The white sand beaches of Panama City Beach are world-renowned for their beauty. Along with traditional beach going, parks and piers offer other unique experiences from fishing to ecotourism. Be sure to to check our the Beach Safety tips and get out and enjoy some of the best beaches the country has to offer!
The legendary pure white sand of Panama City Beach is attributed to quartz crystals washing down from the Appalachian Mountains centuries ago. Along their journey, the crystals were bleached, ground, smoothed, and polished. The surf and tides of the Gulf of Mexico are responsible for depositing these millions of grains of sugar-white sand onto the shoreline.
Public Beach Access
There are public beach access points all along Front Beach Road. If you don’t have beachfront access from your condo or hotel, these are the easiest points to access the beach. With nearly a hundred access points, there is sure to be one within walking distance or a short drive.
Click here for a list of beach accesses.
Panama City Beach has two main piers:
M.B. Miller Pier, 12213 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32407
Russel-Fields Pier, 16201 Front Beach Rd # D, Panama City Beach, FL 32413
These similar piers both jut out around 1,500 feet into the gulf and offer excellent sightseeing and fishing opportunities. The Pier Park shopping center can be found at the base of the Russel-Fields Pier and offers all kinds of shopping and dining experiences. It costs $3 to walk out onto the piers and $6 to fish from them. The beaches below offer free sunbathing and swimming opportunities and in the right conditions have some of the best surf in the area. In addition to these two piers, two other piers exist at St. Andrews State Park (see below).
St. Andrews State Park
St Andrews State Park is located just to the east of Panama City Beach. The park offers beautiful beaches in a natural setting. You can walk along the beach, toss out a fishing line from the Gulf Side Pier or the pier over spectacular Grand Lagoon. Enjoy a swim, either in the Gulf waters or the adjacent “baby pool,” a calm water area along the jettys of St. Andrew’s Pass. There are no concessions but camping sites are available. If you’re not camping out, the park closes at sunset.
Click here for more on St. Andrews State Park.
Camp Helen State Park
On the West end of Panama City Beach, Camp Helen State Park offers a one of a kind natural experience. Swim and walk along beautiful beaches or venture into the rare coastal woodland habitat around Lake Powell, one of the largest freshwater dune lakes. Amazing fishing opportunities abound. Camping is not allowed and the park closes at sundown.
Click here for more info on Camp Helen.
Shell Island is an approximately 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island running east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. Here you’ll find Florida at its most natural, where graceful sand dunes, coastal scrub forest, pine hammocks, and an inland lake provide the perfect home for deer, nesting shorebirds, and all manner of coastal creatures.Accessible only by boat, numerous tour operators or The Official Shell Island Shuttle (850-233-0504) can get you there.
Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace ordinance (also known as Leave Only Footprints) states that all personal items will be removed and disposed of if left on the beach between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. CST. These items include, but are not limited to: tents, chairs, toys, umbrellas and coolers.
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, Flounder, Red Fish and others.
Trolling – Venturing 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.
A fishing license is required to fish in all the waters in the Panama City Beach area unless fishing from a licensed fishing pier or charter boat operated by a licensed captain. A 3-day out of state license can be purchased for $17 at all area Walmarts, most bait and tackle shops, and the Bay County Tax Collectors Office located at 17109 Panama City Beach Parkway.
Click here to check out some of our favorite fishing and boating outfitters.
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. To report a turtle nest or hatchlings on the beach, call Panama City Beach Police 850-233-5000.
Dogs are not allowed on Bay County beaches with the exception of a pet-friendly area located on the Westside of the Russell-Fields City Pier located across from Pier Park at 16101 Front Beach Road. Signs are posted to mark the designated area where dogs are allowed.
Click here for beach safety tips.