Shell Island is one of the amazing places to visit while vacationing in Panama City Beach. A 7-mile long barrier island located between St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve got 16 of the top reasons this a must-see.
1. Bottlenose Dolphins – One of the largest concentrations of wild bottlenose dolphins lives in the shallow waters off the coast of Shell Island. Their natural curiosity and playfulness means that it’s sometimes possible to get very close and even touch these incredible marine mammals. These magnificent creatures are one of the main reasons vacationers and locals enjoy spending time on Shell Island.
2. Family Fun – You won’t have to worry about your kids missing their electronics. With so much to do on Shell Island, they’ll forget all about their digital gadgets and just enjoy their adventure with you!
3. Wildlife – There are several habitats on Shell Island, which means there’s a wide diversity of wildlife. From the beach mice and piping plovers along the shore to the white-tailed deer and alligators by the inland lake to the coastal birds flying overhead, there’s always something to see.
4. Shells – Shell Island is home to a wide variety of marine life. Among them, the group known as mollusks who build homes around their soft bodies—that we call shells. When these animals die, they leave their colorful and intricate shells behind. The constant rolling action of the ocean waves carries these shells to shore for us to find. Walking along the beach you’ll no doubt find beautiful shells, just be sure there’s nothing living inside before you decide to take it home!
5. Fishing – Warm ocean water and plenty of places for fish to call home, the waters off Shell Island are teaming with a large variety of fish species. With two jetties, the pier and miles and miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of places to cast a line.
6. Sugar-white sand – The legendary sand of Shell Island is attributed to the quartz crystals that washed down the Apalachicola River from the Appalachian Mountains centuries ago. As they traveled, the crystals were ground, bleached and polished before finally being deposited along the Emerald Coast. No matter how hot the sun gets—the squeaky white sands stay cool beneath your bare feet.
7. Educational – Shhh, don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be learning about nature and conservation without even realizing it. Whether they’re wading in the water searching for sea stars, walking along the inland trails or marveling over the antics of the bottlenose dolphins, they’ll be discovering the importance of protecting animal habitat and enjoying nature with respect.
8. Snorkeling – Shell Island has some of the best snorkeling and diving areas. With a variety of habitats, from sea grass beds to sandy bottom, to nearshore coral reefs, there are plenty of places to explore. Looking for something for the littlest ones in your group? Shell Island has a protected “kiddie cove” where kids will enjoy splashing and exploring.
9. Romance – With miles and miles of beach, there are plenty of secluded coves to enjoy some quiet time with that special someone.
10. Exploring – Miles of sandy beach, an inland lake, sand dunes, the shallow waters around the jetty—with so much to do and so little time, you’ll have a hard time seeing it all in one visit.
11. Relaxing – Does this one really need explaining? There’s nothing like getting away from the busy crowds of the action parks and shopping malls, taking a deep breath and just letting the peaceful sound of the wind soughing through the palm trees to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. It’s so peaceful you may never want to leave!
12. Marine Life – Warm ocean waters are home to a wide variety of sea life. There are sea stars and sea anemone hiding in the rocks of the jetty. Many different crabs, including horseshoe, ghost and hermit crabs scuttle along the beach and the shallow waters. And on occasion, visitors to Shell Island get to enjoy the wonder of a loggerhead or green sea turtle basking in the sun. To truly enjoy the underwater world, be sure to bring along your diving mask!
13. A hands-on Experience – Nature is everywhere! Pick up a sea star or a hermit crab and watch its many legs move or its body curl around your finger. Dig your toes in the sand along the shore and scare a flounder from its hiding spot. Stand in breathless wonder as a doe guides her fawn along the edge of the forest. So much to see and experience!
14. Coastal Birds – Some call Shell Island a “birder’s paradise”. With fish so plentiful and plenty of protected spots to nest, a diverse population of bird species make Shell Island their home. Whether you’re floating peacefully off the beach or relaxing in the sand, there are plenty of birds to enjoy.
15. Sand Dunes – Shell Island is a protected area for beach grasses. Through the natural action of wind and ocean waves, sand has been built up creating sand dunes. There are very few plant species that are able to adapt to the harsh conditions of blowing sand, ocean flooding, heat and salt spray. Because these grasses are so important to maintain the health of the sand dunes and the habitat for the animals who call them home, it’s important never to walk on beach grass and always stay on natural trails.
16. Emerald Green Waters – St. Andrews Bay gets its beautiful color from the reflection of the sunlight off the sandy bottom. Without any pounding surf, there’s nothing like a swim in the warm ocean water.
We hope we’ve inspired you to take a day and check out Shell Island. Aquatic Adventures has plenty of ways to get you out there. Whether you’re looking for the adrenaline rush of a jet ski, the convenience and independence of taking a large group out on a pontoon boat or the more relaxed ride on a sailboat, our affordable rates and easy rental plans make us the perfect stop. Give us a call today or use our convenient online calendar and book your Shell Island experience with us!