When you visit Panama City Beach, you're sure to find plenty of fun both on and off the water. At St. Andrews State Park, there's no shortage of ecotourism activities for you to enjoy within the 1,200-acres of undisturbed forests, sand dunes and miles of beautiful beaches. Here are a few of our top favorite things to do when visiting St. Andrews State Park.
Bike through the park
It's a popular pastime, strolling through the park on a leisurely bike ride. Rent a bike at the Camp Store and enjoy a paved 2-mile bike ride soaking up all of nature's beauty throughout. Make sure to keep an eye open to spot some of the park's most popular wildlife including deer, alligator, and various bird species. Helmets are available at the Camp Store upon request.
Take a boat tour to Shell Island
Hop on the Shell Island Ferry to Shell Island for hours of fun! Shell Island is an undeveloped, 7-mile long barrier island boasting sugar-white sandy beaches, coastal scrubland and pine hammocks that separate St. Andrews Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. It's also a haven for marine mammals, wildlife and beach lovers who are looking for a relaxing, quiet and natural setting. Colorful tropical fish, sea turtles and dolphins are common in the waters surrounding the island. Aside from swimming, collecting seashells, or just soaking up the sun in a tranquil paradise, hiking is also an opportunity to explore rare coastal plants, bird and wildlife communities. The ferry is the easiest, safest, and fastest way to get to Shell Island, which can only be accessed by boat. Snorkeling and scuba equipment are available to rent at the Pier Store. For more information on the Shell Island Ferry, click here.
Swim, Snorkel & Surf
Swimming is one of the most popular activities at St. Andrews State Park with over a mile-and-a-half of beautiful beaches and stunning waters. The jetties area of St. Andrew's Bay in the park is perfect for the kiddos to swim and snorkel with excellent opportunities to study marine life. If you're looking to catch some waves, grab your surfboard and head over to the Gulf side of the park. Snorkeling equipment is available for sale at any of the concession stores at the park, or you can bring your own.
Take a Hike
St. Andrews State Park offers two half-mile trails to choose from: Heron Pond, which takes hikers through the flatwood pine forest, and Gator Lake, where you may spot alligators and wandering birds during your trek! Either trail you choose, there's plenty of nature to see while venturing off the beaten path for some fresh air and exercise.
Cast a Line & Go Fishing
There are several fishing opportunities available at St. Andrews State Park including deep-sea jetty and surf fishing. The piers and jetty rocks provide great vantage points year-round for that prize catch! Fish species around the park include Spanish mackerel, red fish, flounder, sea trout, bonito, cobia and bluefish. A Florida saltwater fishing license is required and all fishing within the park must conform to regulations regarding size, number, method of capture and season.
Camping or "Glamping" at the Park
If you're looking for a more immersive experience at the park while reconnecting with nature, St. Andrews State Park has 158 campsites with amenities including water, electric, and sewer connections. Each site also has a picnic table and grills and can accommodate units ranging from tents to RVs up to 50 feet in length. There are two accessible restrooms, laundry facilities, and pets are welcome! Trails, beaches, a boat launch and concessions are located just a short distance from the campground. If you're looking for a more glamorous experience, try "glamping," where nature meets modern luxury. Unplug and relax in an eco-tent, each offering a picturesque water view. The eco-tents are the perfect destination for anyone looking to fully immerse themselves in the park while also enjoying some of the luxuries of their own home. The eco-tents feature electricity, air conditioning, a queen bed, a twin sized cot, chairs, a picnic table and charcoal grill, a 4-cop coffee pot and many classic camping amenities. For more information on reservations, click here.