Are you planning a vacation of sunshine and snorkeling in Florida?
Well, oh buoy you have floated over to the right spot!
Snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida is an awesome destination to become an underwater explorer! The crystal-clear waters have made it a hot spot for Florida snorkeling.
It’s the ultimate Florida vacation of snorkel days and beachside nights!
Water we waiting for, let’s dive into the full guide to snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida.
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Panama City, Florida Snorkeling at a Glance:
- The best months to snorkel in Florida are from April to September but can be enjoyed all year round
- Shell Island is one of the best places to snorkel in Panama City Beach, Florida, and for sightings of tropical fish, rays, and marine life
- St. Andrew’s State Park is great for everyone in the family and admission is only $8 per vehicle
- Remember to be aware of the local forecast as well as the currents and wind conditions
- Don’t worry if you don’t have equipment, most places offer full package rentals.
Keep reading to get the full guide to snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Is Panama City Beach Good for Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach! And anyone can do it, all ages!
The beautiful clear waters of Panama City Beach let you see a whole new world down below. Water temperatures typically average around a comfortable 80 degrees.
Best Places to Snorkel in Panama City Beach, Florida
We love Panama City Beach as one of the top Florida snorkeling destinations. There are lots of great options for everyone in the family.
St. Andrew’s State Park
One of the best places for snorkeling in Florida is St. Andrew’s State Park. Visiting its famous emerald-green waters is one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach.
Depending on the weather you can see up to 20 feet! You can discover lots of coastal plant species and uncover what marine life lies within the rock jetties.
It’s great for the young ones too with lots to see close to the shore!
St. Andrew’s State Park has all you need to eat, drink, snorkel, and repeat all day long. There is food and drink for purchase, and snorkel gear to rent from the concession store if you don’t have your own.
Admission is $8 per vehicle with 2 or more people and is open from 8 am until sundown.
Shell Island is known for its gorgeous waters of teal blue and has a calm sheltered area of water.
It’s a great place where one can try out snorkeling before they venture out further along the jetty and out into the open waters.
You can only get to Shell Island via boat. So remember to bring all your supplies, food, water, and snacks over because nothing is available here.
Just dolphins out swimming, sea turtles and pelicans, tropical fish, rays, and miles of white sand beach!
Best Tours for Snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida
Snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida is a must because there are lots of tours and equipment rentals throughout Panama City.
Here are a few of my favorites to check out the next time you visit Panama City Beach Florida:
Fun PCB: Shell Island Dolphin/Snorkel Boat Tour
This is a 2-hour tour where you can jump off swim and snorkel near the boat that takes you to Shell Island.
They provide snorkel gear making it a fun and easy day out in Panama City Beach. You may even get to see dolphins!
Shell Island Shuttle
Shell Island Shuttle has been around for many years. It’s the official shuttle to Shell Island!
You can buy your tickets for the Shell Island Shuttle right at St. Andrew’s State Park or online.
They also offer snorkel equipment to rent, kayaks, and other water sports you might want to try out.
Best Gear for Snorkeling in Florida
The great thing about Florida snorkeling is that you don’t need to pack too much or you can easily rent them in PCB!
All you need is a dive mask to see all the marine life below, a snorkel, and flippers to help you glide through the water.
One of our favorite picks for the best gear for snorkeling in Florida is the Cressi Light Weight Premium Travel Snorkel Set for All Family Palau SAF Set.
It is durable, stays sealed underwater, has a splashguard to minimize water from entering the snorkel and the short fins are easy to carry.
The travel bag makes it super easy to travel with and we love that it comes with a 2-year limited warranty!
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What are the Best Months to Snorkel in Florida?
Florida snorkeling can be enjoyed all year round!
But the best months to snorkel in Florida are from April to September when the water is beginning to warm up.
You may find the water temperature a bit cooler during April and May but it can be refreshing and with fewer crowds.
During the fall and winter months tours don’t run every day of the week due to the lower demand so be sure to plan ahead.
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What Month Are Sharks Most Active in Florida?
Sharks are most active in Florida in the spring and summer months from April to October.
During August and September, they tend to be most active with shark attacks according to the Florida Museum.
However, the amount of shark attacks has significantly decreased over the past years.
Volusia County, Florida is known as “the shark bite capital of the world” and from 2012 to 2021 there were 0 fatalities reported due to shark bites.
Does Panama City Beach Have Coral Reefs?
Panama City Beach’s underwater community is filled with artificial reefs creating new habits for beautiful fishes, marine life, and extensive coral to develop and flourish.
The program began in the 1970s with the involvement of Panama City Marine Institute. PCB’s tourism for diving and snorkeling has been booming as a result!
Shell Island also has snorkelers flocking to the emerald green waters and coral reefs in search of tropical fish and all the underwater sea life.
It’s especially great even for novices!
Top 5 Beginner Tips for Snorkeling in Florida
Let’s now go into a few tips to help you have a fun and safe experience!
1. Be Aware of the Weather
It may be a sunny and clear sky when you head out but conditions can change quickly. Stay up to date and be aware of the local forecast where you are snorkeling in Florida.
Plan accordingly and take a look at the wind and wave conditions as well as the currents. These can all play a big role in the safety of your day.
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2. Bring a Friend
There is safety in numbers when out in the water. Unexpected events can always happen even to the best of swimmers.
Plus, it makes it more exciting to have someone to share all the fun with when you float upon the sea life, creatures, and magic below.
3. Sunscreen, Sunscreen, and More Sunscreen!
Lather up the sunscreen because Florida snorkeling can leave you looking like a lobster with a nasty goggle and flipper tan that will hurt for days.
Be sure to reapply especially on your back it’s not called the Sunshine State for nothing!
4. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Be aware of your surroundings as you don’t want to find yourself snorkeling in high-water traffic areas with boats or jet skis.
Water traffic travels at fast speeds and can become quite dangerous as you are not highly visible.
Avoid these areas and if you are snorkeling far from shore, a dive flag can help make you visible to those around you.
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5. Respect the Underwater Marine Life
Florida snorkeling gives you a chance to get up close and personal with exciting marine life, coral reefs, and tropical fish.
Remember that this is a privilege that should not be destroyed by getting too close. This could scare them as well as put you in an unpredictable situation.
Feeding them can put them in danger of becoming dependent on humans, as well as altering their ecosystem.
It is important to respect marine life and their ecosystem at all times.
Final Thoughts on Panama City, Florida Snorkeling
The emerald green and crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes snorkeling one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach that you simply can’t miss.
Whether you explore the calm waters along the shore or head out for an underwater adventure it’s perfect for all levels and ages.
There’s no shortage of fun marine life to admire and beautiful coral reefs to uncover!
It is a great way to add some excitement and unforgettable memories to your next Florida vacation.
So be sure to add snorkeling to your list of fun things to do in Panama City Beach on your next visit! You will be sure to have a mer-mazing good time!
Until next time, Happy Florida Travels Hipster!
About the Author
Sarah Jordan is a solo traveler enthusiast, professional travel writer, and proud mama to her rescue dog Coconut.
With a love for destinations across the globe, she made Epcot her first theme park and still treasures her EPCOT World Showcase passport to this day.
After finally following her inner wanderlust, she discovered the freedom and empowerment that solo travel brings.