Last Updated on June 12, 2024

Panama City, Florida is famous for its stunning coastline and clear blue waters.

From family-friendly spots to secluded stretches of sand, the area offers a beach experience for visitors. 

St. Andrews State Park stands out as a top destination, featuring sugar-white sands and ample opportunities for watersports.

Shell Island is another must-visit, accessible only by boat but well worth the journey for its pristine, undeveloped landscape. 

Henderson Beach State Park, just a relatively short drive away in Destin, provides a more tranquil experience, perfect for those looking to escape the crowds.

Each of these beaches offers unique features and activities, making Panama City a prime location for beach-goers.

Whether you’re into swimming, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the sun, these spots all have something great to offer.

white sands and blue skies in Panama City Beach Pier in Florida USA

Top Beaches Near Panama City Florida

Shell Island

Shell Island is a must-visit for those seeking a serene escape. Located just off the Gulf Coast and St. Andrew Bay, it’s accessible by boat or shuttle.

This preserved island is known for its pristine, white-sand beaches and opportunities to see wildlife in their habitat.

This area is perfect for kayaking and snorkeling, as the waters are home to a variety of marine life. Visitors can often spot dolphins and sea turtles. 

Note: There are no facilities on Shell Island, so it’s important to bring everything you need for the day, including water and snacks.
Some of the shuttles going to Shell Island offer snacks, however.

If you’re looking for the best way to explore Shell Island, Take a look at these 6 Shell Island Tours From Panama City Beach! 👈

Photo credit – Wikimedia

A view of the jetty at St. Andrews State Park, Florida, USA, looking south.

St. Andrews State Park

St. Andrews State Park offers 1200 acres of natural beauty and recreational activities.

The park has several beaches, each with its own charm. The jetties create calm swimming areas, ideal for families.

St. Andrews is also popular for fishing off the pier, and bird watching. The park features amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and campgrounds.
It’s also a great place for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

For those looking to explore more, there are hiking trails and a boat launch.

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach captivates visitors with its upscale community and beautiful coastline.

The beach itself is clean and well-maintained, making it perfect for relaxing and sunbathing.
Kids will love the Rosemary Children’s Playground and nearby Donut Hole for some sugary bites.

The surrounding town offers quaint shops, dining options, and picturesque streets.
If you’re a seafood lover, sneak over to George’s At Alys Beach, just a few minutes walk from Rosemary Beach.

Visitors can rent bicycles to explore the area. The combination of beach and town creates a charming, family-friendly destination.

beach scene at Seaside Beach in Florida 30A


Seaside is famous for its vibrant, artistic atmosphere and stunning beach.

The soft, white sand and clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

The town of Seaside is equally appealing, featuring unique architecture, boutiques, and eateries.
Airstream Row is a collection of food trucks lining the street and a must-visit for food and beer while in Seaside and it’s right off Scenic Highway 30A.

The community often hosts events and concerts, making it a lively place to visit.

For accommodations, there are numerous vacation rentals and inns.

Mexico Beach pier sign and a boardwalk going to the beach

Mexico Beach

Mexico Beach, located a short drive from Panama City, offers a more tranquil environment.

The beach is known for its wide, sandy shores and beautiful sunsets.

Fishing is a favorite activity here, with a local pier and charters available. The town is small, with a laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals.

This part of Florida’s Unforgettable Coast is an excellent choice for those looking to escape the crowds and relax.

Are you looking to unwind before sundown in Panama City Beach? Book this Sunset Catamaran Sail on the Privateer! ⛵️



Beachside Street Parking, Panama City, Florida

Activities And Amenities

The beaches near Panama City, Florida, offer a variety of activities and amenities, appealing to visitors seeking adventure, relaxation, and nature exploration.

From water sports and beachfront dining to wildlife sightings, these beaches cater to all interests.


Water Sports And Rentals

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of water sports. Popular options include jet skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding.

Rental services are available for equipment such as kayaks and snorkeling gear.

Several companies offer guided tours for activities like dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing.

Lessons for beginners are also accessible, ensuring that everyone, regardless of skill level, can participate.

The calm, warm waters make it an ideal setting for these adventures. 


Beachfront Dining Options

Numerous beachfront bars and restaurants provide a variety of dining experiences.

Options range from casual seaside cafes to upscale establishments.

Pier Park has several restaurants just across the street from Russel-Fields Pier.

The Back Porch features fresh seafood dishes, including local favorites like Gulf Grouper and Firecracker Shrimp

Several restaurants offer outdoor seating with stunning views of the Gulf.  Front Beach Road is filled with waterfront restaurants, such as popular spots, Coconut Charlie’s and Barefoot Hide-A-Way.

Some venues also host live music in the evenings, enhancing the dining experience. 

Nature Trails And Wildlife

Panama City’s beaches are surrounded by numerous trails, perfect for hiking and nature walks.

St. Andrews State Park offers several popular routes.

Along these trails, visitors can spot diverse wildlife, including herons, turtles, and deer.

Boardwalks and observation points are available, allowing for closer views of animals in their natural habitats.

Birdwatchers will find these areas particularly rewarding.

Informational signs are placed at various points, providing educational details about local flora and fauna.



Panama City Beach at dawn in Florida

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore some of the best spots near Panama City for tranquil beach experiences and places with exceptionally clear waters.


What Are The Top-Rated Beaches For Quiet And Relaxation Near Panama City?


St. Andrews State Park offers a serene environment with fewer crowds and pristine surroundings.

Shell Island is a secluded spot accessible only by boat, perfect for those seeking peace and calm.

Grayton Beach, located a bit further west, provides a tranquil setting with white sand and clear waters.


Which Locations Around Panama City Beach Offer The Most Crystal-Clear Waters?

Shell Island is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, making it ideal for snorkeling and swimming.

Camp Helen State Park features clear, calm waters due to its unique position between the Gulf and a coastal dune lake.

St. Andrews State Park also offers exceptionally clear waters, especially in its protected lagoon area.



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photo collage of beaches near Panama City Beach in Florida



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Booking a last-minute trip to Panama City Beach?  

If so, we have you covered.  Here are some top recommended tours and hotels!

Top Tours in Panama City Beach

Snorkel and Dolphin Cruise (Shell Island Tour With Dolphin Catamaran Cruise)

Sunset & Dolphin Catamaran Cruise (2-Hour Sunset Sail)

Swim With Dolphins Boat Tour (Family-Friendly Boat Tour In Panama City Beach)

Scream Machine Thrill Ride (One-of-a-kind thrill ride perfect for adventure lovers!)

Catamaran Snorkel & Dolphin Watching Tour (Snorkeling & Dolphin Tour In Panama City Beach)

Top Hotels in Panama City Beach

Marriotts’s Legends Edge At Bay Point (Stunning Panoramic And Lagoon Views)

Holiday Inn Express & Suites (Highly Recommended Beachfront Hotel)

Homewood Suites By Hilton (Top Rated Hotel In Panama City Beach)

Hyatt Place Panama City Beach (Best Rated Luxury Hotel Nearby Beach)

Looking To Get Around The Nearby Cities Of Panama City Beach

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