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Panama City Beach Waters

The waters surrounding Panama city Beach include a diverse mix of saltwater, freshwater and estuary environments. These unique resources offer numerous recreactional opportunities from swimming and fishing to eco-tourism.

Gulf Waters

Most people visit Panama city beach for the calm, beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Warm in the summer months with beautiful white sand beaches, this is certainly one of the finest places to swim in the world.


While usually calm and relativly free of common marine hazards, it is still important to practice safety when enjoyimg the Gulf.

Rip Tides

Powerful currents that sometimes form in the gulf, particularly around sandbars, inlets and structures like piers, Rip tides happen when wave action traps large amounts of water near the beach. This water will find a way to push back out to sea and where it does it will create an extremely powerful current heading out, away from the beach. Take care not to venture out into the gulf when rip currents are high (beach flags will typically indicate a strong rip current with a red or double red flag). If you should get caught in a Rip Tide, DO NOT TRY TO FIGHT IT by swimming directly back towards the beach. The currents are too stong and will wear out even the strongest swimmers. Instead, swim parallel to the beach until you feel the current subside and only then make your way back to the beach.


Many areas around Panama City Beach have lifeguards present but, some do not. Be aware of wether ot not there are life guards in the area and act accordingly. Always follow lifeguards instructions and heed the warning flags they post.

Sharks, Stingrays and Jellyfish

There are some natural hazards in the area that although not likely to interrupt your vacation, can be present. A number of sharks are known to visit the inland areas of the Gulf, including Bull Sharks and Hammerhead sharks, but attacks are unlikely. Don't eneter the water if you know sharks are present and never enter the water with bleeding cuts. If you encounter a shark, slowly and calmly make your way towards the beach, avoiding any rapid movements that may antagonize the shark. Stingrays are timid animals that live off of the beaches in the gulf, they typically only attack when accidentally stepped on but can cause a painful sting. It is advisable to seek medical attention if you are stung by a stingray. If the sting is not severe, you can relieve some of the symptoms by soaking the affected area in a 50/50mix of water and vingar. Jellyfish are another stinging animal that you may encounter in the Gulf. If you sting is sever, medical care is again advisable but, as with a sting ray, the water/vingar mix can be used to aleviate minor symptoms. A purple warning flag indicates the presence of hazardous marine life in the water.

Red Tide

A toxic Algae that sometimes affects the gulf coast. Red tide causes blooms that can vary from brown to red to green in color and since they are toxic should be avoided. Read more about Red Tide here


Saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off of Panama City Beach is some of the best in the world. You can surf fish from the beach or rent or charter a boat for deep sea fishing.

Surf Fishing

Right from the beach you can cast out a line to try and hook Pompano, Flouder, Red Fish and others.


Ventureing off shore, trolling can land Whaoo, Caobia, Bonito or larger sport fish like Sail Fish or Marlin.

Deep Sea Bottom Fishing

Further off shore you can fish the bottom for fish like Grouper, Trigger Fish, Snapper, Mahi and Tuna.

Shark Fishing

The area is home to a number of shark spices including Hammerheads, Bull Sharks, Mako Sharks, Black Tip Sharks and others. Some of the charter services offer shark fishing trips.

Check out some of our favorite fishing and boating outfitters here

Dolphins and Sea Turtles

Dolphins are a common site from boats in the Gulf or even the beach. Some outfitters offer special dolphin watching cruises. Sea turtles also reside in our waters. They come onto the beaches to lay their eggs. If you see a sea turtle, do not disturb it, and do not expose the animal to any bright lights. Harming a sea turtle or its nest is punishable by law.

Inland Waters

On the other side of Panama City Beach, numerous freshwater and estuary habitats offer entirely different experiences.


These inland waters are home to fish including Redfish, Spanish Mackrel, Trout and Sheepshead. You can access fishing in these areas from the coast line, certain bridges and piers or by rented or chartered boats.

Eco Tours

The unique habitats also are an excellent place to explore. Go on your own on hiking trails at the parks either end of town or you can take guided tours from local outfitters.


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