One of the most treasured natural attractions in Panama City, St. Andrews State Park is a beautiful barrier island that is considered a nature lovers paradise. Nearby, Shell Island is an undeveloped 7-mile stretch of beach only accessible by boat. Combine the two for a perfect Gulf Coast beach excursion, where you’ll have access to some of the most pristine landscapes Florida has to offer.

Picture a landscape of soft, white beaches nestled amongst lush native flora. To top it all off, the uncrowded shoreline at both of these idyllic escapes highlight the miles of crystal-clear, emerald green waters where you’re never far from a salty sea breeze and a chance to dig your toes in the sugary sand.

St. Andrews State Park

Named “The World’s Best Beach” by Travel Magazine and dubbed the “Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach, St. Andrew’s State Park has an impressive list of accolades due to its premier location surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, St. Andrews Pass and Grand Lagoon.

St. Andrews State Park

Water sports enthusiasts will revel in the activities on offer, with excellent opportunities to swim, snorkel, paddleboard, kayak, and fish. Those who prefer to explore by land are also well catered for, as the 1,200 acres of Gulf Coast preserve provides plenty of space to go biking and hiking through the picturesque trails that wind through the park. Wildlife spotting is common here, with various migratory birds and deer roaming the area. If you’re looking for an overnight adventure under the stars, set up camp at one of the 176 on-site campsites that have electricity, water, picnic tables, and grills.

Shell Island

If you’re looking for a more primitive escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, consider a day trip to Shell Island. An undeveloped barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, Shell Island boasts beautiful landscapes of rolling sand dunes. With lush vegetation and miles of pearly white sand, this remote island feels like you’ve found a hidden paradise.

Shell Island

To get to this island oasis, a shuttle runs from the mainland in St. Andrews State Park to the island regularly. A delightful way to spend your afternoon, come to Shell Island and comb the beach for brightly colored shells and go snorkeling for an array of vibrant marine life, and if you’re lucky you might even spot a loggerhead or sea turtle. Just remember that its natural environment means you need to plan ahead, as there are no concession stands or restroom facilities.

  • Address: 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City Beach, FL 32408
  • Phone: 850-708-6100
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