Located to the southeast of Panama City Beach between St. Andrew’s Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Island offers a unique opportunity to visit an undeveloped coastline right outside of town. Classified as a ‘barrier island’, Shell Island is actually a peninsula bordered on the east by St. Andrew’s State Park and by Tyndal Airforce Base on the west. A shipping channel dredged by the Corps of Engineers in the 1930’s to allow easy access to the Gulf from Panama City, known locally as ‘the pass’, separates Shell Island from the mainland.
Referred to as the ‘Jewel of Panama City Beach’, 7 miles of natural white sand beach front with dunes, coastal scrub forest and even a small inland lake offer great opportunities for hiking, kayaking, swimming and snorkeling or just hanging out and catching some rays. Although the island attracts scores of boaters who anchor out just off shore in the busy season, there is plenty of room to get away and explore. Local wildlife onshore includes shore birds, hermit crabs, and deer, offshore you can see turtles, dolphin and various species of fish. You can find shells but they may be scarce in the more popular areas of the island.
Access is by boat only. Shuttle boats are available from St. Andrew’s State Park or Panama City Beach. There are no facilities or restrooms on the island so be sure to come prepared with sun protection, swim wear, towels, dry clothes, food and drinks and whatever else you think you might need. Please also help preserve the natural beauty of Shell Island by packing out everything you pack in.
St. Andrew’s State Park is located at 4607 State Park Ln., Panama City Beach, FL 32408 and offers seasonal shuttle service to Shell Island.