Everything to Know About the Beaches of Panama City Beach

Here is Your One-Stop Guide to Panama City Beach's 27 Miles of White-Sand Beaches

Panama City Beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida offers some of the finest stretches of coastline of the Eastern US. People come here from far and wide to enjoy the pristine white-sandy beaches and refreshing Gulf waters. With 27 miles of beaches, there's certainly enough room to accommodate the many guests who flock to the area.

However, with so much coastline comes the question of where should you go based on your vacation wants and needs. Each major stretch of beach offers its own unique experience, and we're here to help you find the best spots for your beach days.

Read on to find everything you'll need to know about the beaches at Panama City Beach. 

Beachfront Resorts

What's more fun than having a beach right outside where you're staying? The quintessential beach experience is found just steps away from Panama City Beach's oceanfront resorts. From these resorts, you have immediate the smooth sands and refreshing Gulf waters.

The resort beaches are the best option for those looking for classic, easy-going beach days where you can sit back, relax, and take a couple quick dips in the water. You'll find plenty of room on these wide stretches to spread out. The surf is also pretty mild, which is great for easy boogie-boarding or body surfing with the family.

Other activities that are popular at stretches of beach near the resorts included pier and shore-fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, and riding jet-skis. Joggers will also love getting early morning runs in on the beaches during their resort stays.

If you book your stay in Panama City Beach with Nautical Properties, these are your options for beachfront resorts:

Calypso Beach Resort

Tower-style resort right on the beach by pier park. Great condo rentals overlooking the water with access to two pools and other luxurious amenities.

Emerald Beach Resort

Another tower-style resort, this one comes with private beach access as well as seasonal gear rentals such as beach chairs and jet skis. The family-friendly resort also features two pools and a sky bar.

Sunbird Beach Resort

Like the other beachfront resorts, the Sunbird has incredible condo rentals which come with a variety of wonderful amenities. This resort is also right next to several family-friendly attractions such as the Shipwreck Island Waterpark.

Nautical Properties also hosts vacation rentals from beachfront condominiums as well as resorts just off the beach. Click here to browse all resort and condo rentals.

St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island

Those looking for a beach experience that gets them a bit out of the city should head to St. Andrews State Park. While not completely crowd-free, the 1.5 miles of beach at St. Andrews are certainly more secluded than those right off the resorts. St. Andrews is the place to go for beachgoers that enjoy having a variety of activities to choose from.

Although it's perfectly fine to sit back and relax here, the real appeals are the opportunities to explore St. Andrews' shores. There are plenty of trails to wander on near the beach, including some spots to historical sites within the park. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards to paddle around either the Gulf or St. Andrews Bay.

Out on the water, there are several exciting snorkel and scuba diving spots where you can observe a plethora of marine life. If you're up for a little more excitement, the beaches at St. Andrews also feature the best surfing in Panama City Beach. Rent a board in town and head to the state park for a beach day full of shredding sick waves!

A thing to keep in mind before visiting St. Andrews State Park is that there are entrance fees. A single vehicle with two to eight passengers costs $8 per day, and there are a few other options depending on your additional vehicles and/or number of guests.

Shell Island in St. Andrews State Park

One spot in St. Andrews State Park that deserves a special mention is Shell Island. As its name would suggest, this island is a great place to find sea shells washed up on its beaches. There's also no development here whatsoever, so it's seven miles of island landscape is pristine and tranquil to explore.

With that tranquility comes opportunities to spot a variety of marine life from the beaches. Plenty of sea turtles hang out just offshore, and one of the nation's largest populations of bottlenose dolphins also call the waters off Shell Island home.

To access Shell Island, you will need to take a ferry from the state park docks in St. Andrews. The Shell Island Shuttle costs $25 for adults and $18 for children aged 2-12. Click here to learn more about the shuttle and its ticket options.

Camp Helen State Park

The last major beach area near Panama City Beach is at Camp Helen State Park. Like St. Andrews, Camp Helen is a quieter spot with more focus on the enjoying the complete natural landscape rather than just the beach. There is also a historic lodge and a handful of interpretive exhibits to explore throughout the park.

As for the beach itself, Camp Helen State Park has a modest stretch of sand along the Gulf Coast. However, the park does host the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida, Lake Powell. The lake covers approximately 800 acres and often has an outfall that connects it with the Gulf of Mexico.

The extensive and waters at Lake Powell in Camp Helen State Park make this an immensely popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding. It's not only a breeze to paddle around here, but there is also a highly active community of wildlife to watch out for. Spot white-tailed deer, wild heron, egret, river otter, osprey, and even dolphins while paddling around.

Like with St. Andrews, you will need to pay an entrance fee to enter Camp Helen State Park. The cost is $4 for vehicles, and $2 for bicycles and pedestrians. You can also rent kayak and paddleboard gear at the park. Click here to find up-to-date rental gear costs.


That's just about everything you'll need to know about visiting the beaches at Panama City Beach. Each stretch of coastline has something to offer each unique visitor, and hopefully this guide has helped you find the perfect beach for your Florida beach day. Check out our complete PCB Area Guide to discover more trip-planning information

Make sure to book your stay with Nautical Properties to reserve the best accommodations in Panama City Beach. Click the button below to browse all our luxury rental properties.