Looking for new things to do in the water on your beach vacation? In this post, I’ve included some of the best things to do in Panama City Beach, Florida!
Panama City Beach, Florida
Just the other day, I was talking to a friend about our vacations in Panama City Beach, Florida. I told her of my experiences there, and she told me of hers. The funny thing is that we had two VERY different experiences. Her family likes to enjoy sitting on the beach without really ever leaving their condo. For her, that was difficult because she really wanted to explore the area. For those of us who want to explore, it’s important to find out what’s around us. This is why I write these articles–for those who are looking to explore and experience new things!
St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park is beautiful! It’s a great place to take a day trip. It costs $8 to get in, but it is so worth it. There are trails to see wildlife and there are wonderful beaches. My husband and I drove to the back of the park and swam in the bay area for a while. The water was calm and there were lots of shells and hermit crabs. If you snorkel near the rocks, you can see some really pretty fish. On the other side of the rocks, you can swim on the ocean side. The water was very clear there when we went!
From St. Andrews State Park, you can actually get a boat shuttle over to Shell Island. Shell Island is located across from the beaches that are at St. Andrews State Park. There are other tour boats that go to Shell Island, but you could easily take this shuttle to go explore on your own (for cheaper).
Shell Island has beautiful beaches and will give you a more remote feel while you are there. While you are there, you can even learn the history behind how Shell Island was made!
Camp Helen State Park
Although Camp Helen State Park has a further walk to get to the beaches, this is a great place to go if you want to miss the crowds. There are trails and wildlife here as well, and the beaches are nice!
Snorkeling is another fun pastime while you’re at the beach. I feel like this one gets overlooked a lot, but I had the best time snorkeling at St. Andrews’ State Park the last time that we went! You can snorkel at any of the places listed above.
There are many snorkel companies that will take you out on a boat to go snorkeling. Several years ago, we took a boat to do a dolphin tour and they actually let us snorkel off of Shell Island. This was awesome! The water was so clear and we were further out than we could have gotten without being on the boat. If you use a company, I would go on a boat that will take you to do several things on the ride like that one did.
I would NOT use just a snorkeling boat. When we were snorkeling at St. Andrews, there was a snorkel boat that dropped off their people exactly where we were snorkeling. It was super close to shore, so I think that was a waste of money on their part…
When you first see “Dolphin Tours” you might think that it’s a rip-off. I mean, how can the people just find dolphins? And do they only let you look at them? ACTUALLY, this was NOT the case for us! I had my suspicions as well, but my husband and I had a great time on our dolphin tour!
Our captain was great and he found many dolphins for us. At his word, we were able to slide into the ocean with our snorkel masks on and take a look a dolphins that were only about 15 feet away from us. It was an insane experience. In addition to seeing dolphins, we even got to see a manatee. On top of all that, he even let us swim off of Shell Island to see and touch the many sand dollars on the ocean floor. So, yes, it’s worth it!
- Panama City Beach Dolphin Tours
- Flippers Dolphin Tours
- Dolphin and Snorkel Tours
- Sunshine Watersports of PC
Although this one is technically above water, you do get to take a nice dip during the ride! When you schedule your parasailing trip, do it early on in your week of being there! I scheduled mine for the end of the week and we had a terrible storm that came through a couple of minutes before my scheduled time and then they were booked during the last day of our trip. So I sadly didn’t get to parasail in PCB just yet. I have been parasailing somewhere else before and it is an amazing feeling! Don’t be afraid, just go for it!
Here are the main companies to go through:
If you’re interested in finally getting your scuba license, or if you’re looking to use the one you have, this is your time! There are plenty of places to learn from and dive through. My husband loves scuba diving and has seen some pretty neat things off of Panama City Beach. Here are some resources for you:
Banana Boat & Jet Ski
There are Banana Boat and Jet Ski options in front of just about every condo! This is a simple way to do something fun and different. To do these, you don’t even have to leave the beach. Sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to leave the beach, go get ready, and drive somewhere to do something different. For these, you can simply approach the guys at the shack and then hop on!
Looking for other things to do in Panama City Beach?
My name is Lindsey Erin and I am a Georgia Peach who loves to travel and explore! I got a B.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies because I love learning about cultures and religion so much. Because I love travel and people so much, I decided to start writing Spread Your Wings Blog!