Visit Panama City Beach
In the short but eventful time I spent at Panama City Beach, I had the opportunity to experience the picturesque parks, go on boating adventures, and walk along the sugar-white, squeaking sand.
I stayed at Tidewater Beach Resort, hosted by ResortQuest by Wyndham, located in Pier Park. Situated on one of Panama City Beach’s largest private beaches, it takes up the equivalent of two football fields. The view from each luxury condo is unbeatable; the sounds of the tide coming in and out lulled me to sleep every night and the natural light filled the condo every morning. Getting to the beach only required stepping outside, perfect for a morning run, an afternoon dip, or a midnight stroll.
The resort features 570 spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom Gulf-front condos, “two huge lagoon pools, an indoor heated pool, a 4,300 sq. ft. fitness center with Roman spa, a 5,000 sq. ft. conference center, plus a movie/media center,” according to the resort website.
The beach is widely accessible no matter where you find yourself in Panama City Beach, which boasts 27 miles of beach, about 100 public access points, two state parks, and a 7-mile-long barrier island called Shell Island that’s only accessible by boat.
St. Andrews State Park, a former military reservation, features more than 1 ½ miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon. The “sugar white sands” and “emerald green waters” make for a picturesque backdrop for a variety of activities including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing, according to the Florida State Parks website. If water sports aren’t your thing, the park also has two fishing piers and nature trails.
Camp Helen State Park, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on three sides, offers history, hiking trails, and, most memorably, a “hidden pier” at the end of a half-mile walk to the beach. The quiet, secluded beach and the towering remains of the pier make for a serene experience.
One of the highlights of the trip was watching the sun set during Paradise Adventures’ Sunset Sail. Onboard the 52-foot catamaran, I saw dolphins swimming alongside the boat, the sun setting into the water, appearing as if it was melting into the horizon, all while feeling the Gulf’s fresh breeze on my face. Guests who partake in the sunset sail receive a complimentary beverage of their choice, and there is live entertainment aboard the catamaran on Wednesday and Thursday evenings during the summer months, according to the website. During the day, Paradise Adventures offers three-hour Adventure Tours, during which guests partake in a number of water activities including snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Visit Panama City Beach
Last but not least: Shell Island. A favorite destination for both locals and visitors alike, the 7-mile-long barrier island that runs east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrews Bay is only accessible by boat. Pontoon rentals, boat tours, and a shuttle from St. Andrews Park can get you to Shell Island. Once there, you can snorkel, paddle board, or simply wade in the warm water and enjoy the peaceful secludedness of the island.
Panama City Beach has much to offer its visitors with countless activities and opportunities to unwind and reconnect with nature on both land and sea. It’s hard to not find happiness in a place so beautiful; I certainly did.