There are all sorts of amazingly fun activities to occupy your time when you visit PCB. Boat tours, dolphin watching, fishing—and of course, checking out the best place to snorkel in Panama City Beach, Florida, which many experts say is St. Andrews State Park.
Of course, the snorkeling is great at many of Florida’s state parks. Whether you’re on the Gulf Coast or the Keys, the gorgeous clear water and exciting marine life makes for a fascinating view. Snorkeling lets you float along the water, a quiet visitor to the world of the sea life, and gives you a bird’s eye view (as it were) of what’s happening below you. There’s nothing calmer.
But St. Andrews State Park in particular is well known for its sugar-white sand beaches and emerald green water, its variety of available activities and amenities, and its proximity to Shell Island, another gorgeous place to visit.
If you’re planning a snorkeling trip, here are some things to keep in mind:
- The snorkeling is always going to be best when the water’s clear, because you’ll have maximum visibility.
- If you’re planning to snorkel in an inlet, you need to be aware of tides. Check with a local dive shop to make sure you’re going in the water at a safe time.
- Snorkeling close to a jetty or pier can mean that you get hooked by a fisher. Be careful!
- Stay away from boating traffic and Jet Skis. Getting hit by one of those would be incredibly dangerous for someone snorkeling, and might even be fatal.
- If you’re snorkeling any distance off the beach, use a dive flag. This will make it easier for others in the water to see you. If you don’t already have one in your gear, talk to a local dive shop to buy or rent one.
- Keep an eye out for jellyfish in the water, and know that if you see one on the beach, there are probably many more out on the surf.
In general, St. Andrews State Park is one of the best places to snorkel in warmer weather months; north of Tampa, the water on the Gulf Coast can still get a bit on the chilly side. Although the sea isn’t a swimming pool, and conditions can change every day, snorkelers often report seeing blue and yellow tangs, sergeant majors, and bluehead wrasses.
If you’re looking for a coral reef environment for snorkeling, of course you won’t find that at St. Andrews State Park, but snorkelers report visibility of up to 20 feet, lots of fish, and lots of smaller hermit crabs and other wildlife close to the shore that kids can enjoy. And once you’re done snorkeling, you can explore the nature trails, a cookout, or bird-watch.
If you think you might want a more private snorkeling experience, consider one of our tours out to Shell Island. Just let our captains know what you’re looking for, and we’ll help you locate more secluded spots among the grass sea beds. We can also look for wild dolphins in their natural habitat, or just let you enjoy the feeling of the sea breeze on your skin and the sun on your face.
It’s up to you. Enjoy the best snorkeling in Panama City Beach, the relaxing journey of a boat tour, or a little bit of both. It’s your vacation; make it memorable.