1. The area offers abundant artificial reefs and natural habitat, creating incredible opportunities for divers and fishermen.
2. The destination is easily reached by car, and a new international airport translates into faster and less expensive flights for divers and anglers in a hurry to get wet or get on a bite!
Known as the "Wreck Diving Capital of the South," Panama City Beach provides an amazing variety of dive sites. The warm Gulf waters make the area an excellent home and breeding ground for sea life, and the clarity of the Gulf also allows views of sea turtles, schools of red snapper, curious puffer fish, dolphins, barracuda, sand dollars and horseshoe crab, just a few of the species that inhabit the emerald waters.
Divers have their choice of natural, historical and artificial reefs in the waters off Panama City Beach. The area's historic wrecks include the USS Strength, a World War II Minesweeper that was originally sunk for Navy diver training purposes. Now, it's a popular dive site rich in marine life, as is the Black Bart, a wonderfully intact 175-foot supply ship sitting upright in 75-feet of water.
There are more than 50 artificial reefs off Panama City Beach including fifteen 160-foot-long and 35-foot-high bridge spans, ten barges, a hovercraft, and many more.
The natural reefs range in depth from 80 to 100 feet and start just a few miles offshore. These reefs range in height from 3 to 8 feet and are teeming with sea life, including small corals and colorful sponges. Closer to shore, the jetties at St. Andrews State Park are popular snorkeling sites. There are multiple full-service dive shops in the area that can do anything from fixing a regulator, teaching a lesson, or renting a full set of gear, to offering customized boat charters.
Fishing in Panama City Beach ranges from remarkably deep offshore waters to inland, spring-fed creeks and bay flats that offer a rich bounty. Novice and experienced anglers alike are able to capitalize on the multitude of freshwater and saltwater options here. Native fish species include cobia, king mackerel, red snapper, Spanish mackerel, flounder, red fish and pompano. Other seasonal fish include grouper, amberjack, speckled trout, whiting, black fin tuna, snapper and wahoo.
Visitors can head out on the Gulf of Mexico on a private charter or a head boat, or cast a line off the pier in St. Andrews State Park, the 1,500-foot newly renovated Russell-Fields Pier (also referred to as City Pier) or its twin, the M.B. Miller Pier (County Pier). Panama City Beach is home to one of the country's largest sport fishing fleets, and visitors can choose from 16-foot-skiffs to million-dollar yachts. Several sport fishing tournaments take place throughout the year, attracting avid anglers from around the world.
Panama City Beach fishing licenses can be obtained from the following locations:
Tag office: 850-233-5035; Wal-Mart: 850-234-1989; Half-Hitch: 850-234-2621