1. Where is there public beach access?
All of the beaches in Bay County are public. Bay County maintains 96 public access points stretching from the East end of Thomas Dr. to the west end of Front Beach Road. Visitors should not park in areas marked by no parking signs or on private property without permission of the owner. There are 4 easy to use public parking areas with beach access; Pier Park/Russell-Fields City Pier (16101 Front Beach Road), MB Miller County Pier (12213 Front Beach Road), Rick Seltzer Park (7419 Thomas Drive), and St. Andrews State Park on the East End of Thomas Drive (4607 State Park Lane). View our Beach Access Map here.
2. Are tents allowed on the beach?
Tents are welcome on our beach. However, tents and any other personal items that are left unattended between the hours 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. are subject to removal by the authorized beach services contractor under the Leave No Trace Ordinance. Click here for more information on the Leave No Trace Ordinance.
3. Where is the best place to find shells on the beach?
Shells can be found all along Bay County beaches both on the shore and in the water. Early mornings are the most productive shelling times because the beaches are less crowded. Particularly popular shelling sites include the jetties at St. Andrews State Park, Shell Island, and Crooked Beach located between the Eastern end of Tyndall Air Force Base and the Mexico Beach city limits.
4. Do I need a fishing license?
Yes! A fishing license is required to fish in all the waters in the Panama City Beach area unless fishing from a licensed fishing pier or charter boat operated by a licensed captain. A 3-day out of state license can be purchased for $17 at all area Walmarts, most bait and tackle shops, and the Bay County Tax Collectors Office located at 17109 Panama City Beach Parkway. For more information on Fishing Regulations please visit http://myfwc.com.
5. Which time zone is Panama City Beach in?
Central Time Zone
6. Are there age restrictions for accommodations in Panama City Beach?
Age requirements are set by each individual property. Many hotels follow an 18 or older policy while most condominiums have older age requirements such as 21, 25, or 27. These policies can change so it is important to stay in contact with the property where reservations have been made to ensure compliance with their policies.
7. Is alcohol allowed on the beach?
Persons 21 or older are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on the beach 11 months out of the year. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the sandy beach during the month of March. Glass bottles are strictly prohibited, however.
8. Why are the beach flags red?
Bay County and Panama City Beach maintain a flag warning system which alerts swimmers when water conditions have become dangerous. Red flags are used to indicate a high hazard which means rip currents are strong and can present significant danger to swimmers. When red flags are flying swimmers are urged to use extreme caution when entering the water. When double red flags are raised, the Gulf of Mexico is closed to the public. Local officials constantly monitor water conditions. Once it has been determined that water conditions have become safe for swimmers, the flags will be changed accordingly. For more on the flag warning system click here.
9. When will the seaweed go away?
Seaweed is naturally occurring vegetation that develops when environmental conditions are conducive to its development. Seaweed can come and go with the tides so there might be seaweed present one day and then be gone the next. Although large amounts of seaweed can be unpleasant, it is not harmful to humans and is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem along the Gulf of Mexico.
10. Does Panama City Beach clean the seaweed off the beach?
Yes, the beach services contractor does sweep the beach on a regular cycle. Because of its importance to the maintenance of a healthy beach ecosystem, the Department of Environmental Protection discourages the daily removal of seaweed from the beaches.
11. Where can you go swimming when water conditions do not allow swimming in the Gulf of Mexico?
Panama City Beach and Bay County offer many great swimming and snorkeling spots other than the Gulf of Mexico. The "kiddie pool" as the bay side of the jetties at St. Andrews State Park is affectionately known is a great spot for swimmers of all ages to snorkel and swim in a mostly shallow, fairly well protected environment. While swimmers should always use caution when entering a wild environment, the "kiddie pool" is less affected by rip currents and seaweed than the Gulf of Mexico so it is rarely closed to the public. Carl Gray Park, located behind Gulf Coast State College, offers visitors a beach on the bay along with plenty of parking and picnic tables. For a unique swimming experience visitors might venture to the northern part of Bay County to Econfina Creek and the series of crystal clear natural springs which feed it. Located along Highway 20 Econfina Creek and the springs attract swimmers, snorkelers and divers, kayakers and canoeists, and a host of others who enjoy the refreshingly cool waters in the hot summer. Visitors can also experience wet and wild adventures at Shipwreck Island Water Park, the Aquatics Center at Frank Brown Park, and many of the amazing pools found at individual properties throughout Panama City Beach.
12. What indoor activities are there in Panama City Beach?
There are plenty of fun indoor attractions in Panama City Beach. Wonderworks and Ripley's Believe It or Not offer visitors a variety of indoor activities such as virtual rollercoasters, 4-D movies, and mind games. Gulf World Marine Park is open rain or shine and has covered seating and walkways. The Grand Theater at Pier Park is a state of the art 16 screen theater featuring IMAX and D-box options along with comfortable stadium seating. Pier Park has unbelievable shopping opportunities along with unique dining and entertainment experiences. Indoor arcades can also be found in several locations along Panama City Beach. While the World's Most Beautiful Beaches will always be Panama City Beach's top attraction the fun doesn't have to stop on rainy days or after the sun goes down.
13. Are dogs allowed on the beach?
Dogs are not allowed on Bay County beaches with the exception of a pet-friendly area located on the Westside of the Russell-Fields City Pier located across from Pier Park at 16101 Front Beach Road. Signs are posted to mark the designated area where dogs are allowed. Read more about traveling with your dog here.
14. Where is the best place to see dolphins?
Panama City Beach is fortunate to be home to a very large population of bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins can often be seen all along Panama City Beach. The jetties at St. Andrews State Park is a popular gathering spot for dolphins making it one the local hotspots for dolphin watching. Several private tours are also available for visitors to enjoy some amazing dolphin encounters. It is important to remember however that feeding or harassing dolphins in the wild is illegal. For information on dolphin tour etiquette and responsible dolphin tour operators click here.
15. How can you get to Shell Island?
Shell Island is only available by boat. St. Andrews State Park offers a shuttle from 9 to 5 from March through October. Several other private tours also offer daily trips to Shell Islands. (link to Shell Island page under Beaches)
16. Can you camp or sleep overnight on the beach?
17. Can you cookout, grill, or have a fire on the beach?
You are able to have a bonfire on the beach with appropriate permits.
18. Are weddings allowed on the beach?
Yes. All Bay County beaches are public so weddings can be held without any special permits. However, wedding parties are responsible for setting up and taking down any wedding decorations. Weddings are subject to the Leave No Trace Ordinance which requires unattended personal items be removed from the beach by 7 pm. When planning beach weddings, it is also important to ensure there is plenty of parking available for attendees. For more information on planning a Panama City Beach wedding please visit the weddings section of our website here.