With the sun shining down on our first day in Panama City Beach, we knew it was the perfect weather for an adventure to Shell Island, a beach named for the abundance of sea shells on its shore. To get there we took a boat ride with Osprey Charters across St. Andrew’s Bay, a beautiful ride made only better by the appearance of an ice cream boat. Instead of ice cream trucks, Panama City Beach brings ice cream to you on boats, and we were happy to indulge our sweet tooths as we heard the familiar ice cream truck jingle. After we enjoyed our ice cream, we arrived at Shell Island Beach and, pails in hand, began our hunt for shells.
After we’d had our fill of sand and shells, we went back on our Osprey Charters boat to do some snorkeling. The shallow section of the bay we swam in was great for seeing tons of underwater creatures like hermit crabs and small fish. We were even able to find a couple starfish, which we gave names before releasing them back into the ocean. We had so much fun, we stayed out until the sun began to set, and so our boat ride back from Shell Island was made even more beautiful by the colors of the setting sun. And if you aren’t in the mood to swim with the sea creatures, Osprey Charters also offers a tour where you’ll be able to observe them instead. On their Dolphin Tour, you’ll be able to see these playful mammals in their natural habitat while the captain tells you what he’s learned about them from his years on the water.
Across the bay from Shell Island, our friends went on an adventure of their own. At St. Andrews State Park they were able to explore the beach in a different way than strolling along the shoreline.The beach on St. Andrews State Park has more to do than swimming and boating – you and your family can also spend your beach day geocaching. Geocaching is an activity, popular throughout the country, where families track down hidden objects, otherwise known as caches, using only GPS coordinates. Taking a geocaching GPS unit to help locate the cache, our friends set off to find pirate treasure. Once they found one of the five geocaches located in the park, they got to take their share of the treasure found inside. Before they moved on, they left a little something for the next family who finds the cache, so no one ever leaves empty handed. This exploratory activity was a fun, unique way to spend another day at the beach.
As luck would have it, our vacation lined up with the Pirates of the High Seas Fest at Pier Park. Pier Park is a huge open shopping center located in the heart of Panama City Beach, and is the perfect place for this annual pirate festival. The Pirates of the High Seas Fest is great for families, with dozens of scheduled activities such as a pirate parade, live music, magic shows, and fireworks, all manned by workers in full pirate attire. Armed with a balloon-animal parrot and pirate sword, we headed out into the festival, ready to have our very own pirate adventure.
After taking on the high seas, we were ready to go flying high in the sky. With Panhandle Helicopter, we were able to see Panama City Beach from a completely new perspective. Flying over St. Andrews State Park and Pier Park was especially cool, knowing we had walked down there only days earlier, and now getting to see it high above from a bird’s eye view. Panhandle Helicopters offers multiple tours, ranging in miles covered and time in the sky, from quick five minute rides for beginners to nearly thirty minute tours that take you down the length of Panama City Beach’s beautiful shoreline. Whether you’re going up for five minutes or thirty, the stunning views and incredible heights are sure to take your breath away.
Helpful Tips and Facts:
– St. Andrews State Park closes at sunset, so make sure you plan enough time for your Geocaching adventure!
– If you decide to go geocaching, make sure to completely seal the geocache after you find it, to make sure it stays safe and dry for the next people who go searching for it.
– If you’re coming by Panama City Beach in the summer, make sure to check out the campfire circle at St. Andrew’s State Park, where rangers host a discussion on the park’s history and wildlife.