SHELL ISLAND - PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA
Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Shell Island has to be our favorite thing to do when in Panama City Beach!
Just a short boat ride away from St. Andrew's State Park lies Shell Island which is a barrier island. This is such a beautiful place for shell hunting, snorkeling, or just hanging out on the beach!
How to get there?
The easiest way to get to Shell Island is by the shuttle. St Andrew's State Park runs this shuttle. I believe that the shuttle times and prices change seasonally, so check out their official website for more details.
This is the way that I decided to visit Shell Island and was not disappointed. It was a very short boat ride from St Andrew's State Park and back.
Some people prefer to rent a pontoon boat but to be honest, I don't know much about that! Sorry! I do know that there are several shops around Panama City Beach that rent them out!
You can also take a tour with different tour companies if either of the above options don't fit your needs! There are several shops that do this!
What is on the island?
So, the island does not have ANYTHING on it, not even bathrooms! This shocks most people, so come prepared with the essentials! The good thing is that the shuttle (during summer) runs every 30 minutes to and from St Andrews State Park. You are able to come and go, but it is probably best to just bring everything that you need and stay there until you are ready to leave. I know that it is easier said than done, haha!
What to bring?
So we are very minimal as full time travelers. I also went by myself to Shell Island, so I really didn't bring much at all. With that being said, I am not the average person so I will add things that I wish I would have brought as well.
Sunscreen (reef safe)
Lots of water!
Snacks (fruit was great in the heat)
Beach mats (chairs are too much to carry in my opinion)
Cactus Juice (yes I know this is weird, but it helps with the sand flies) - You can get this at Ace Hardware!
Once unloading the shuttle, you want to walk across to the Gulf side of the island. This is where you will get the clearest water vs the bay side (where you will get dropped off at). I honestly had the best time just snorkeling around in the water. I saw TONS of fish swimming around, a crab, and jelly fish. I even snorkeled to find lots of shells! I was not disappointed in the snorkeling and in fact, I was very surprised at how great it was.
You can also snorkel at the jetties. Fish LOVE to hang out around the jetties, and I think this was better snorkeling than the open ocean. I even saw a sting ray!
Please snorkel with a buddy especially if it is your first time or if you haven't snorkeled in a while. Please don't follow my bad habits and snorkel alone!
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Keep in mind that this was my experience only and that conditions can change fast. Some people say that they didn't have a great time at Shell Island either due to the change in the water clarity, no fish, etc. Some people say that you get the same experience at the normal beach. Please don't be disappointed if your experience is not like mine was!
Let us know in the comments what your experience at Shell Island was like!
With Love, Kristen