One of the highlights of any trip to Panama City Beach, Florida is a visit to Shell Island. As part of St. Andrews State Park, this undeveloped and isolated piece of land offers superb tropic enjoyment. Whether you spend an entire day snorkeling, swimming, fishing, sunning and going on nature walks or choose to limit yourself to just a couple of hours exploring and enjoying the wildlife, this is a great way to experience the undisturbed beauty of a 700-acre barrier island.
There are a variety of ways to gain transportation to Shell Island in Florida. The best known way is to take the shuttle that runs from St. Andrews State Park to the island every half hour from 9 am to 5 pm daily, seven days a week. The last shuttle going to the island is at 4 pm. If you use this means, just be absolutely sure you don’t miss the last shuttle of the day at 5 pm, unless the idea of being stranded on an uninhabited island overnight appeals to you. Shell Island Shuttle does not come free, the price is $14.95 for adults and $6.95 for children. Infants receive complimentary rides. Most people feel that it is worth the price to spend a day on the island, while other prefer renting a pontoon boat and going on their own. They also offer snorkeling packages that include equipment and transportation at $21.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids 12 and under. Kayaking is another activity that they offer. A single kayak is $55/day while the tandem kayaks run $65/day. Transportation is included in the kayak rental prices. When you visit the website at http://www.shellislandshuttle.com/ click on the link for Discount Coupons. Though they may change, the coupons offer $1 off Shuttle Boat tickets and $2 off Snorkeling Packages.
For those of you planning on renting wave runners, jet skis or the previously mentioned pontoon boats during your stay, most of them allow or offer excursions to Shell Island as part of the rental. Captain Anderson’s Marina offers Shell Island and Dolphin cruises in the morning and afternoon aboard their glass bottom boat, dubbed Capt. Anderson III. Their prices are $18 for adults and $10 for kids ages 2-11. Those under the age of two are free. They usually run their cruises from March through October. Shell Island Cruises are also offered aboard the Ashely Gorman which can be found across from Gulf Coast College. A quick web search for “Shell Island tours” will bring up a number of outfits that provide boat or jet ski tours of the island.
The Gulf waters of Panama City Beach are honored with one of the world’s highest concentrations of beautiful bottle-nosed dolphins. Due to this fact, sightings are fairly common place on the trip to and from the island and even from the island itself. It’s not unusual for one of these friendly swimmers to come up close when you are snorkeling or fishing. You’ll definitely want to bring along a waterproof camera to preserve this amazing experience. You are also likely to see a multitude of wild birds that include sea gulls, snowy plovers, sand pipers and pelicans. The water is filled with vibrant fish and sea urchins that can be viewed while snorkeling. The usual hermit crabs and sea slugs can be found in the shallow water spots found around the rocks. If you get really lucky, you may even catch a sight of an endangered green sea turtle or a loggerhead sea turtle.
With the exception of the snack boat (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) that is located near the shore, Shell Island has no other facilities. Feel welcome to bring a cooler with food and drinks for an ideal breakfast, lunch or mid-afternoon refresher.
The pristine white sandy beaches of Shell Island Florida are gorgeous, as is the natural and undisturbed landscape. Take a day or at least a several hours of your Panama City Beach vacation to soak in the tranquil sights and sounds of Shell Island. Enjoy the wildlife, the ocean waters and a walk along the beach collecting seashells and starfish. Everyone will enjoy this day packed full of beauty and nature.
Panama City Beach, FL 32408
Reviewed March 10, 2010 / Stars
“Shell Island is one of the most popular places near Panama City Beach, FL as it offers pristine, undeveloped land and opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, fishing, sunning and going on nature walks to explore various wildlife.”
If you have been to Shell Island in Florida then please share your review with others in the comments section below. If you’re looking for other fun attractions then take a look at our list of the best things to do in Panama City Beach, FL. If you want to find great resorts and condos in Panama City Beach, then be sure to check out our list of the best Panama City Beach condos! Finally, save money on your vacation with our source of the best Panama City Beach coupons!