Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (2023)

Panama City Beach's turquoise waters may be famous for recreational sports like fishing and diving, but there's so much more to this Gulf Coast city than what lies beneath the sea. Home to bustling, busy piers and over 25 miles of white sand beaches, a PCB vacation is the perfect blend of relaxation and recreation—and the perfect getaway for both beachgoers and intrepid outdoor adventurers looking for fun both on land and at sea.

Panama City Outdoor Recreation and Adventure

One of the best things to do in Panama City Beach is bask in its stunning natural beauty - and its 27 miles of beaches; two state parks; adventure on two wheels; and excursions, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation in the warm Florida sun.

Start exploring Panama City Beach State Parks:Camp Helen State Parkit is a paradise for nature lovers. Kilometers of salt marshes and freshwater wetlands are home to many local ecosystems and wildlife. Rich in natural and cultural resources, Camp Helen is also home to Florida's largest coastal dune lake,Lake Powell. Its location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a very picturesque place where you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There's plenty to discover, too—from fun on the water including kayaking and paddleboarding on Lake Powell to hiking trails that provide insight into the area's distinctive flora and fauna, there's something for every traveler in this natural paradise. Camp Helen is also a great place for swimming and fishing.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (1)

At the eastern end of Panama City Beach is the city's second state park,St. Patrick's State Park Andrews. St. Andrews is a must-visit for anyone looking for an outdoor adventure with an endless parade of activities. Also considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, the soft sand St. Andrews and the turquoise waters along the Gulf of Mexico are perfect places to sunbathe and soak up the sun.

But it is not only the beach that makes St. Andrews is so special - it's also home to lots of fun activities both on land and in the water. While both fishing and swimming are popular pastimes in St. Andrews, there are also lots of fun things to do on the water; including sailing, rowing, surfing, snorkeling and even diving (diving/snorkeling equipment and kayaks can be rented on site). Shuttle boat trips to Shell Island are also available during spring and summer for those who wish to explore its pristine beach; swim and snorkel and hike the inland trails of this undeveloped barrier island.

Land crabs will also find plenty to do in St. Andrews - The park has two half-mile hiking trails, the Heron Pond Trail and the Gator Lake Trail, which are the perfect way to enjoy nature; while the Gator Lake Trail and Button Bush Marsh Overlook lookouts offer plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. St. Andrews also has three picnic areas for those who want to pack a lunch and enjoy the outdoors – andcamping is availablefor those who want to spend the night under the stars in St. Andrews (reservations required).

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (2)

An ideal location for pedestrians and cyclists, ThePanama City Beach Conservation Parkit has 12 loop routes that vary in length and skill level and are ideal spots for wildlife and bird watching. Some of the 24 miles of trails are paved, and there are over a mile of on-site boardwalks that wind through cypress domes, so be sure to bring your camera (and binoculars!)

Panama City Beach is famous for its water sports, and with its ideal location along the southern Gulf Coast and proximity to both the Grand Lagoon and St. Andrews Bay, it's easy to see why. From jet skiing and boat rentals to fishing and paragliding, there are endless ways to enjoy the bright blue waters of Panama City Beach. Want to take a break and let the professionals do the driving?

Then book one of PCB's many sightseeing and walking tours, offering everything from dolphin-watching expeditions to a host of eco-tours that give visitors a unique opportunity to explore the waters surrounding Panama City Beach.

Panama City Beach is also home to a number of piers perfect for those who want a versatile beach experience, complete with wildlife, fishing, shopping, dining and sunsets. Russell-Fields City Pier is one of the most popular PCB piers due to its proximity to a busy areaMolo Parkwith many shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. At over 1,500 feet long, it's also one of the longest piers in the Gulf of Mexico—the perfect place to people-watch, observe nearby wildlife, and enjoy breathtaking sunsets,Russell-Fields Town Pieris a must-visit attraction in Panama City Beach.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (3)

Must-see attractions and more things to do

Believe it or not, there is more to Panama City Beach than just water sports and beaches - there are also some other fun things to discover during your visit. Family-friendly parks abound with PCBs and are the perfect day out for kids of all ages. Get a taste of the aquatic life while having fun and excitementPersian Gulf World Marine Park, home to a host of informative, interactive programs and daily educational shows; feel the adrenaline rushBagienne Jacks Wongo Adventures, and enjoy beach entertainment at its best or explore weird and wonderful placesRipley's Auditorium Believe it or not. Want to see the most spectacular PCB views? So be sure to visit one of the area's most exciting attractions: TheThe SkyWheel Experience. A full entertainment venue that offers several rides including miniature golf, the SkyWheel is primarily home to a nearly 200-foot observation wheel complete with glass gondolas that offer some of the best panoramic views of the beach and surrounding area.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (4)

Another good way to spend the day is to go for a walkLarge lagoon. Known as the Gateway to the Bay, Grand Lagoon is home to tons of fun things to do, including both endless opportunities to explore the water and some fun things to do on land, including shops and restaurants. A "local favorite" in Panama City Beach, Grand Lagoon is a great place to socialize and experience the city's friendly vibe.Captain Anderson's Marinait has fishing trips and dolphin watching.Adventure at seaoffers dinghy rentals, jet ski trips and paragliding trips.

Panama City Beach Dining and Nightlife

Panama City Beach is home to an eclectic restaurant scene that is the perfect place to sit, sip and eat while enjoying some of the best beach views in the area. From fresh seafood to beach bars full of fun and plenty of tropical drinks, there's always something good on the menu at Panama City Beach.

Take a relaxed beach experience to the next level with a delicious meal served with a touch of relaxed atmosphereRunaway Island. Enjoy the waves and the sun, relax in the outdoor bar or watch the amazing sunsets - whatever you choose, you're guaranteed to have a great time at this coastal destination. Seafood is on the menu at Panama City Beach, where you can sample some of the freshest fish around.

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From fine dining to a unique legend by the lagoonRestaurant Capt. Andersonsto a relaxed, local favouriteStore Marlinyou are never far from the catch of the day in PCB. And don't forget breakfast (and brunch!) - Panama City Beach has several places to grab your morning beer and grab a bite to eat after a long night of partying,Captain Jack's buffets'famous breakfast pasta, or grab a piece of sweetPancake shop, known for its deliciously tasty breakfast dishes.

Nighttime is the time to be in Panama City Beach - whether it's at a beach bar sipping drinks or a night of live music and entertainment at a local venue or pier, there are many reasons why night owls visit the city after sunset . WITHschooners, the last local beach club in the historic East End - serving dinner, drinks, music and fun. Catch the band (and a snack).Freda Hammerheada; listen to country music at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge; or enjoy some jazz at Lotus Café and Juice Bar in Zen Garden - there's always a cool bar with good entertainment just around the corner in PCB. Would you like to have fun with a view? Then head to Sharkey's for a cocktail overlooking the bay or toJimmy's Buffet's Margaritavillei Pier Park.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (6)

Where to stay in Panama City Beach?

There are many lodging options available in Panama City Beach, from beachfront resorts and hotels to vacation rentals that can accommodate any group or event. For those looking for luxury waterfront accommodations, there's nothing better than staying at a top-rated hotelHoliday Inn Resort Panama Beachor Days Inn by Wyndham Panama City Beach/Ocean Front. Want something more family-friendly, but still with a seaside feel? So make up your mindOsprey in the Gulfor Palmetto Inn & Suites. If you prefer motels, Panama City Beach has plenty to choose from, a departure from the sprawling, large resorts. Enjoy the "Old Florida Feel" in the laid-back beauty of the beachResort i Bikini Beach; get this classic beach at Casa Loma; or enjoy a family vacation at The Driftwood Lodge on The Gulf. Looking for a spa day? Then choose luxury at Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort orSheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort— an ideal place to unwind for anyone looking for relaxation.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (7)

Whether you're dreaming of a relaxing beach vacation or an epic adventure full of land and sea attractions, Panama City Beach has it covered. fun attractions; beautiful beaches; amazing natural beauty; and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, boating, fishing and more converge in the picturesque Gulf Coast town of Panama City Beach - the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a Florida beach vacation where everything is under the sun.

Explore Florida's Gulf Coast: Panama City Beach | Places. Travels (8)

read onT:Enjoy the beauty of North Carolina on a 3-day tour in Boone

Experience all the great spring outdoor adventures that await you in and around Boone.


How far apart are Gulf Shores and Panama City Beach? ›

How long is the drive from Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach? The direct drive from Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach is 162 mi (260 km), and should have a drive time of 3 hrs 14 mins in normal traffic.

What makes Panama City Beach unique? ›

Panama City Beach is home to one of the country's largest sport fishing fleets. The area boasts one of the highest concentrations of bottlenose dolphins in the world, one of the many reasons Panama City Beach travel is so popular.

Is Panama City Beach Florida worth visiting? ›

Panama City Beach, on Florida's Emerald Coast, is sometimes called “The Spring Break Capital of the World”. Its beautiful beaches, great nightlife, and countless theme parks and arcades make it a great place for a fun break in the sun. It's not just a destination for college kids, either.

What is Panama city known for? ›

Panama City is a four-season paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing and kiteboarding are popular activities on the crystal-blue waters of St. Andrews Bay, with world-class beaches just minutes away. Numerous charters offer inshore and offshore fishing, scuba and snorkeling excursions.

Is Gulf Shores Beach clear water? ›

The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area is a tranquil region with a moderate climate (that means warm temperatures and sun-soaked skies year-round) and crystal clear blue-green water.

Is Gulf Shores worth it? ›

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are charming beach communities alive and vibrant, with a good mix of the young and old bringing excitement to the area. You'll find unique attractions, incredible dining experiences, fantastic lodging options,and adventure on and off the water.

Why is Panama City Beach popular? ›

The waters at Panama City Beach are famous with fishermen and scuba divers who enjoy the benefits of dozens artificial reefs located offshore, and with a coastline that angles slightly toward the west, you can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico every day of the year.

Why is Panama City Florida so popular? ›

The city is home to stunning white sand beaches and several state parks. Also family-friendly, Panama City Beach is home to museums, fun parks, and a zoo. The wild nightlife offers fun for adults and spring breakers. This wide range of attractions secures Panama City Beach's popularity among locals and visitors alike.

Why is the water in Panama City Beach so clear? ›

Just east of Destin on Hwy 98, Panama City Beach marks the end of the beaches of South Walton. These beaches are widely considered to be the clearest and pure in the country. There is nearly no river runoff in the area and the St. Andrew Bay filters much of the sediment out.

Can you walk on Panama City Beach at night? ›

Taking a walk along the beach at night can be a very relaxing activity. You'll hear the waves crash against the shore and you might even see a shell that catches your eye while you're walking.

How much money do you need for Panama City Beach? ›

You should plan to spend around $224 per day on your vacation in Panama City, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, $66 on meals for one day and $48 on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Panama City for a couple is $257.

What is the nicest beach close to Panama City Panama? ›

Red Frog Beach
  • San Blas Islands. Panama.
  • Nueva Gorgona. Nueva Gorgona, Panama.
  • Santa Clara. Santa Clara, Panama.
  • Farallon. Farallon, Rio Hato, Panama.
  • Punta Chame. Punta Chame, Panama.
  • Isla Grande. Isla Grande, Panama.
  • Taboga Island Beaches. Golfo de Panama | Panama Gulf, Isla Taboga 0811, Panama.
  • Contadora Island.

What is the best time to go to Panama City Beach? ›

The best time to visit Panama City Beach is from May through October. Though the area boasts an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, late spring, summer and early fall offer some of the warmest air and water temperatures.

Is Panama City Beach as nice as Destin? ›

Destin is just bigger and nicer than the other two and whatever your expectations are for accommodations, dining, or shopping, you'll find what you want.

What is a famous food in Panama? ›

When in search of traditional food in Panama, it doesn't get more iconic than the country's national dish: Sancocho. Broth, vegetables, chicken, and a side of rice are a few of the key ingredients in this typical Panamanian soup, but it's the abundant use of local culantro spice that reigns supreme.

Where is the clearest bluest water in Florida? ›

The area from Destin, Florida to Panama City, Florida is known to have the clearest water in Florida. This area has been awarded the Blue Wave Beach Award for clarity, water quality, and beauty.

Where is the prettiest water on the Gulf coast? ›

The Gulf Coast has something for every beachgoer. Siesta Key has one of the best beaches in Florida and St. Pete Beach has some of the clearest water, while Bay St. Louis in Mississippi is known for its fresh seafood and charming downtown shops.

What is the best month to go to Gulf Shores? ›

The best times to visit Gulf Shores are March through May and September through November. Travelers can take advantage of these sweet spots outside the busy (and more expensive) summertime and enjoy swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, which still offers pleasant temperatures in the late spring and early fall.

What is the Gulf coast famous for? ›

Home to barrier islands, shipwrecks, historical forts, white sand beaches, wilderness, and thousands of species of plants and wildlife, the Gulf of Mexico is a true treasure. Its 600,000 square miles of sea make it the ninth-largest body of water in the world.

Why is the sand so white in Panama City Beach? ›

The pure white, snow-like sand along Northwest Florida beaches is purely ground quartz mineral. The sand can be seen, felt and heard from Panama City Beach to Pensacola Bay.

Is Panama City Beach affordable? ›

(WJHG/WECP) - Panama City Beach is climbing the charts. It's now ranked the second most affordable spring break destination. A title given by U.S News and World Report.

Is Panama City FL expensive? ›

PCB ranks number 62 on a list of most expensive places to live in Florida. “Well if you compare it to other parts of Florida, no it's very affordable,” Guidotti said. Other areas in Bay County like Lynn Haven and Panama City average in the $1,900 range.

Where do the rich live in Panama City? ›

Punta Pacifica is where Panama's wealthiest citizens choose to live and one of the most expensive areas in Panama City. There are gated communities and some amazing views across the bay. It has all the amenities you could. If budget is no concern, then Punta Pacifica maybe the best place to live.

Is Panama City Florida wealthy? ›

Panama City is a diverse city in the Florida Panhandle region with a population of about 37,000 people. The median household income is $44,512, and the median home value is $164,700 as of 2022.

Can I drink Panama City water? ›

Potable Tap Water

Except for a few remote areas of the country, tap water is safe to drink.

Can you drink Panama City Beach tap water? ›

Can you drink the water in Panama? The answer may surprise you – yes, the tap water in Panama is actually safe to drink in much of the country, especially the larger cities. So if you were wondering “is tap water safe in Panama?”, you (mostly) needn't worry.

Why is Panama City water brown? ›

Discolored Water

Please do not be alarmed. The water is still safe to drink. The water merely contains sediments due to sudden changes in pressure in the system.

Is it illegal to take sand from Panama City Beach? ›

Sand Removal – It is unlawful to remove sand from the beach. Sea Turtles – Sea Turtles are an endangered species.

Do you have to pay to walk on the pier in Panama City Beach? ›

Overview. Located on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach, the Russell-Fields Pier sits 1500 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico. Spectators can walk the pier for a daily fee of $4.00. Daily fishing licenses can be purchased for $7.00.

How much is $1 in Panama? ›

Are you overpaying your bank?
Conversion rates US Dollar / Panamanian Balboa
1 USD1.00000 PAB
5 USD5.00000 PAB
10 USD10.00000 PAB
20 USD20.00000 PAB
8 more rows

Do you need $500 to enter Panama? ›

Proof of solvency: either $500 USD in cash, traveler checks, or credit card or debit card with most recent monthly statement. A certified police record from your country of permanent residence, in case there is a chance you will stay longer than 90- 180 days in Panama (apostilled and translated into Spanish).

Can I live in Panama for $1000 a month? ›

Similar to Thailand, while it is possible to live on $1,000 per month in Panama, you will enjoy life more by expanding your budget and allowing for extra activities and events. A baseline of $1,250 a month would be more reasonable.

Where is the clearest water in Panama City? ›

Where is the clearest water in Panama City Beach? Panama City Beach and Pier is the best place to go in Panama City Beach for crystal clear blue water.

What is the least crowded part of Panama City Beach? ›

Panama City Beach's West End is the quieter side of the area where you'll find quaint communities dotting the beaches and less high-rise condominiums.

What is the least crowded beach in Panama City? ›

Shell Island

One of the least crowded beaches in Florida Panhandle is Shell Island. Located near Panama City Beach, this island boasts miles of untouched shoreline and offers plenty of privacy for those looking to get away from it all.

What is the rainiest month in Panama City Beach? ›

Panama City Beach enjoys long summers, and temperatures stay above 75°F throughout much of the season. November is the coolest month, October is the driest, and September receives the most rain (average of 6”).

What month can you not drink on the beach in Panama City Beach? ›

Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the sandy beach during the month of March. Glass bottles are strictly prohibited year round on the beach.

What is the rainiest month in Panama City Florida? ›

Rain falls throughout the year in Panama City. The month with the most rain in Panama City is July, with an average rainfall of 5.8 inches. The month with the least rain in Panama City is May, with an average rainfall of 2.7 inches.

Is Panama City Beach water as clear as Destin? ›

The water in Destin is known for its clarity, but the water in Panama City Beach is also quite clear.

Which is cheaper Panama City or Destin? ›

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Destin and Panama City, we can see that Panama City is more expensive. And not only is Destin much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Destin would let you spend less money overall.

Do you have to pay to go to Crab Island? ›

Crab Island cannot be accessed without renting/owning a boat, kayak or other watercraft.

What is the drink of Panama? ›

Panama's most famous drink is seco, a sugar-cane-distilled alcohol produced in Herrera and commonly served with milk and ice. You won't find seco in trendy bars or high-end restaurants; it's consumed mostly in rural communities and cantinas.

What is the national drink of Panama? ›

Seco was always part of family celebrations including birthdays, weddings, Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations. It's considered the national alcoholic beverage of Panama.”

What is the drinking age in Panama? ›

The Republic of Panama laws declare that it is unlawful for any person under 18 years of age to consume or possess alcoholic beverages.

Which is better Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Alabama? ›

Gulf Shores vs Orange Beach- Which is better? Gulf Shores is a great destination for a family vacation or weekend getaway, but you may want to consider Orange Beach if you prefer a small-town atmosphere or if you are looking for more golf courses and upscale amenities.

Which is better Destin or Panama City? ›

Destin is a very family-friendly place to visit. The area has beautiful sandy beaches, calm waters, and plenty of activities like Big Kahuna's Water Park. Panama City is an amazing family-friendly beach town to visit. This area has large sandy beaches, waterparks, amusement parks, and marine parks.

Is Panama City Beach nice? ›

With more than 27 miles of coastline, PCB is known for its sprawling Gulf beaches, with their silky white sand and unbeatable ocean views. It's no wonder the city's beaches are consistently ranked among the most beautiful in the world.

What is the closest major airport to Gulf Shores Alabama? ›

Pensacola International Airport (PNS)

This is the closest, major airport to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. It is located approximately 40 miles from Gulf Shores, Alabama, and about a 1-hour 10-minute drive.

What is the least crowded beach in Gulf Shores? ›

Fort Morgan Beach in Alabama

Bypass Gulf Shores and the crowds for quiet Fort Morgan at the inlet to Mobile Bay. Visit the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to witness the beauty of an untouched barrier island habitat; three sea turtle species and migratory tropical songbirds stopover here.

Is the water clearer in Destin or Panama City? ›

Panama City Beach is another great beach with blue water in Florida. It is east of the Choctawhatchee Bay so it isn't quite as clear as Destin, but it still has beautiful waters. Panama City Beach has about 27 miles of sandy beaches and is home to two beautiful state parks.

How much spending money do I need for Panama City Beach? ›

You should plan to spend around $224 per day on your vacation in Panama City, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, $66 on meals for one day and $48 on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Panama City for a couple is $257.

What airlines fly into Gulf Shores International Airport? ›

What is the best airline to fly from Gulf Shores? At Expedia, we give you all the available options from our reputable partners. Select the airline that best suits your preferences and membership loyalties. You can fly from Gulf Shores with: Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, American Airlines, Delta.

Is there a shuttle from Mobile airport to Gulf Shores? ›

Mobile Regional Airport Shuttle Service Areas- Services are

Mobile Regional Airport to and from Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, AL. The trip is about 1.5 hours so we suggest pick-up time at least 3 to 4 hours before flight time.

Is Gulf Shores in Alabama or Florida? ›

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are located in Baldwin County on the southernmost tip of Alabama between Mobile, Ala. (50 miles to the northwest) and Pensacola, Fla.


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