By VISIT FLORIDA staff
Your Guide to Panama City Beaches
Editor's note: Beaches near Panama City and area parks are listed geographically from west to east.
Beaches with this symbol have beach wheelchairs available, either provided as a courtesy, or available for (prearranged) rent and delivery from private companies.
Panama City Beaches
Panama City Beach is famous for its powdery white sand beaches and emerald waters. The area is also known as the "Wreck Capital of the South," with numerous historic wrecks in the offshore waters just waiting to be explored. These 27 miles of pristine beach are perfect for swimming, diving, snorkeling, shell collecting, fishing and boating.
Camp Helen State Park
Camp Helen State Park is a unique area surrounded on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico, Phillips Inlet and Lake Powell. The diversity provided by the three different bodies of water creates a unique habitat for wildlife. The more than 180-acre park contains maritime hammocks, freshwater wetlands, sand pine scrub, coastal dunes, as well as a salt marsh. It's one of the favorite beaches near Panama City for nature lovers. The lodge at Camp Helen and its cottages offer a look at how tourists spent their vacations in the 1940s. Be prepared to hike a bit to enjoy this park's wonderful trails and beaches. Fishing for both fresh and saltwater species has traditionally been popular at Camp Helen.
St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park was voted the best U.S. beach in 1995 and today it still lives up to the honor with more than 1,260 acres, two fishing piers, jetties and two and a half miles of pristine shoreline. With a renovated park and refurbished beach, this is one of the best Panama City beaches. It offers swimming and snorkeling in the warm waters of the Gulf and in the shallow, protected pool behind the jetties. Camping, hiking, cycling, canoeing and more are sure to please everyone in your family. As a bonus, Shell Island, a 700-acre barrier island that is part of the park, is a peaceful spot for swimming and collecting shells. Shuttles run to the island spring and summer.
Panama City Beach and Pier
This lively waterfront pier and park anchor Panama City Beach's eight miles of pristine beach. Everything sun and surf can be done here, from body surfing and parasailing to sunbathing and castle building. The City Pier spans the Gulf of Mexico affording spectacular views of the Gulf. It's a great spot for you to catch a fish. The pier is adjacent to one of the areas most popular public beaches. The park includes an amphitheater, pavilions, walking trails and lakes.
Panama City Beach is an award-winning Florida beach. Among the honors Panama City Beach has received are: One of the 10 best Southern beaches, Camp Helen State Park, suited for a beach escape by Southern Living in 2009, Top 5 places for Sunset by Southern Living in 2009, America’s Top 10 Beaches by TripAdvisor in 2008 & 2009, America’s Top 5 Beaches for Families by Travel Channel in 2009, America’s 20 Most Beautiful Beaches by Condé Nast Traveler in 2006, Top Ten Family Beach Destination by USA Today in 2005, Blue Wave Beach by The Clean Beaches Council in 2002, ‘03, ’04, #10 Beach in America by The Travel Channel in 2001, Top Five “Best Beaches” by Southern Living in 2000 & 2008, #3 Beach in America by The Surfrider Foundation in 2000, #1 Beach by Dr. Beach (Stephen Leatherman) in 1995.
M.B Miller Pier
This popular stretch of sand vibrates with activity. There are twin piers – both the County and City Pier – that are identical in size and open 24 hours. A couple of the rides from the former Miracle Strip Amusement Park are now located at Pier Park.
Rick Seltzer Park
Located near Bay Point, this beaches near Panama City option is a 4.7-acre community park featuring a recreational area, gazebo, nature trail and beautiful beaches.