Things To Do in Panama City Beach

Take the Shell Island Ferry out for an amazing Shell Island Day Trip, try the best Panama City Beach snorkeling, or spend a fun-filled day aboard your own pontoon boat.

The Shell Island Ferry – 5709 North Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida 32408. (850) 753-8301

There is a great selection of things to do in Panama City Beach Florida, but the white sand beaches, the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and sheltered reaches of Saint Andrew Bay are definitely top Panama City Beach attractions. Boating and watersports of all types, dolphin and wildlife watching, snorkeling, diving, fishing, relaxing time on the beach—the Panama City Beach coast offers something for everyone. But if there is one local highlight that can be said to make Panama City Beach stand out among Florida Panhandle cities, something special that draws both visitors and locals to return again and again, it has to be Shell Island.

Panama City Beach, the stretch of Gulf coast shoreline and resort community directly west of Panama City Florida, offers miles of sugar-sand paradise that is consistently rated as America’s best beach. It is truly amazing—picture-perfect in fact—but Shell Island takes beachgoing to the next level. This undeveloped 7-mile-long barrier island features a pristine, empty beach and an inshore environment that is a rare slice of original Florida Coastal Ecosystem. Shell Island delivers the Robinson Caruso beach experience of every beach-goer’s dreams.

The safest, quickest, and easiest way to reach Shell Island is aboard The Shell Island Ferry, departing from 5709 North Lagoon Drive at the east end of the Grand Lagoon Bridge in Panama City Beach. The Ferry is also your connection to Shell Island Snorkeling, snorkel gear rentals, and pontoon boats from Panama City Beach Boat Rentals if you would like to do some exploring on your own.

Shell Island Day Trips

A Shell Island day trip is a must for visitors who want the desert-island beach experience. Accessible only by boat, Shell Island takes visitors back to the Panhandle beaches of a century or more ago. There is no development at all on Shell Island—the white sand stretches empty for miles along the Panhandle coastline until it dead-ends at the opening that connects the Gulf of Mexico with Saint Andrews Sound. Just offshore, the marine environment is protected by inclusion within the boundaries of St. Andrews State Park Aquatic Reserve. Nature rules the land and sea on this totally uninhabited island, and every trip out to this unique spot promises new adventure.

Swimming and snorkeling are great on Shell Island. As the island’s name implies, shell collecting is a lot of fun. Hiking inland on the island offers the opportunity to explore rare Florida coastal plant, bird, and wildlife communities in their natural condition. Shell Island is the perfect place to get in touch with nature, spend a family play day, or take long walks along the shore with someone special. If there is a single Panama City Beach must-see above all others, it has to be Shell Island, and the Shell Island Ferry® is your convenient express connection to the pristine beaches and other wonders of Shell Island.

The Shell Island Ferry® makes regular runs to and from Shell Island all day long, with schedules varying according to season. You can pack up beach gear and a picnic lunch, hop aboard the Ferry, and go out to spend a full day, half day, or just a few hours on the island. It is a truly unforgettable place that attracts locals and visitors nearly every month of the year, and a Shell Island day trip is sure to be a highlight of any Panama City Beach holiday.

Panama City Beach Snorkeling

If you enjoy snorkeling, or are excited to give it a try for the first time, the western end of Shell Island offers some of the best snorkeling in Panama City Beach. Out on Shell Island, the land and water are in a natural and unspoiled condition that allows marine life to flourish. It’s the perfect Panama City Beach snorkeling spot, and the Shell Island Ferry® is the fastest, easiest way to get to Shell Island. Habitats around the island range from sand bottom to shallow grass flats, the rocky faces of the jetties, and, for advanced snorkelers, the surf zone and deeper waters off the Gulf side of the island. Expect to see tropical fish, crabs, rays, and if you are lucky, a sea turtle or some of the resident bottle nose dolphins.

Never snorkeled before? It is an amazing yet simple sport—you just swim along the surface of the water with a dive mask, snorkel, and fins. In fact, snorkeling is easier and safer than swimming because the snorkel makes it very easy to breathe. There is no struggle to get your head above water, floating face down is natural and relaxing, and the fins gives you plenty of power and maneuverability. If you want an extra feeling of security, simply wear a life jacket when you go snorkeling—the extra buoyancy makes it easy for even non-swimmers to enjoy snorkeling. It is an amazing experience to see clearly underwater with the mask, the marine life is beautiful, and snorkeling is so safe and easy for all ages that you definitely need to give it a try.

You can book a Shell Island Snorkeling Tour online or get geared up for a day of snorkeling right at the Shell Island Ferry® ticket office before you board the Ferry. We offer rentals that feature new, high-quality masks, fins, and snorkels. Life jackets are also available for young children or those who would like some extra confidence in the water. Out on Shell Island, the Ferry will drop passengers at the calm, sheltered pool behind the jetty. It’s the perfect spot to launch a snorkel adventure from, and beginners could not ask for a better learning area. Experience the best Panama City Beach snorkeling on a Shell Island snorkel safari with the Shell Island Ferry®!

Panama City Beach Pontoon Boat Rentals

For the ultimate Shell Island day trip, and one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach in general, try a pontoon boat rental from Panama City Beach Boat Rentals. Experience an exciting day of adventure on the water with family and friends aboard a classic party barge or one of the newest double-decker pontoon boats. The sparkling waters of the Bay and white sand beaches of Shell Island await, and there is no better way to sightsee, picnic, and party on the water than at the helm of your own private pleasure boat!

Safe, stable, and spacious, pontoon boats are ideal for families and groups of friends looking for sun, fun, and the perfect way to visit Shell Island. Affectionately called Party Barges, pontoons are famous among recreational boaters for their ease of use and versatility. A flat bottom and shallow draft make them great for cruising in shallow water and pulling up close to the shore to swim and play. Coolers, toys, and tons of people fit aboard a pontoon with ease, and a large shade top protects everyone from the sun. A pontoon boat is without question the most comfortable, user-friendly way for folks of all ages to enjoy some time on the water.

Pontoons are simply the best all-around watercraft for groups of up to 10 people looking to enjoy swimming, fishing, cruising the waterfront, or simply lounging around with a cold beverage. And Panama City Pontoon Boat Rentals now offers double-decker pontoons that feature seating for 12, an upper deck sunbathing platform, and twin water slides. It is no wonder that, on the waters around Panama City Beach, pontoons are a favorite of visitors and locals alike.

Enjoying on-the-water recreation is one of the best things to do in Panama City Beach, and you don’t want to miss the chance to explore Shell Island with your own boat. Especially if you are visiting Panama City Beach with a group, a pontoon boat rental is a very economical way to have a fun-filled day. Panama City Beach Boat Rentals makes arranging your day on the water a breeze with a convenient online reservation system and great customer service at (850) 640-6112, but please be sure to reserve your boat early because our pontoon boat rentals are very popular.

Enjoy Unique Shell Island in Panama City Beach

Shell Island is one of the top attractions in Panama City Beach. You won’t want to miss out on the beauty, blissful beach relaxation, and great recreational opportunities the island offers. Explore our website to learn more and enjoy pictures of Shell Island and St. Andrew Bay. Use our fast, secure online booking system or give us a call at 850-753-8301 if you have questions or would like more details. And if you are in town, you can always drop by at 5709 North Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach, FL 32408 to book a trip on the Shell Island Ferry.

Shell Island Shuttle

The Shell Island Shuttle is the easiest, safest, and fastest way to get to Shell Island. Book now and save time on the day!

Things To Do on Shell Island

Looking for things to do in Panama City Beach? Take our Ferry over to Shell Island, rent a pontoon boat.

Panama City Beach Boat Rentals

Boat Rentals

Explore Shell Island on your own time with your family and friends with one of our, well maintained, Shell Island Pontoon Boat Rentals.

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Shell Island Ferry

Shell Island Ferry

The Shell Island Ferry is the fastest, safest way to make a day trip out to beautiful Shell Island and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States.

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Panama City Beach Snorkeling


Shell Island is a local hot spot for snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida. Begin your adventure with Shell Island Ferry.

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