Things to Do on Shell Island

shell island beachWhether you race over the waves of St. Andrews Bay on a jet ski, take a leisurely sail across the emerald waters or bring the whole gang by pontoon boat, everyone agrees no day on the ocean in Panama City Beach is complete without a stop at Shell Island. With no hotels or restaurants on this 7.5 mile long barrier island, visiting Shell Island is like stepping back in time before the Florida panhandle was developed. There’s a sense of wonder and peace as you enjoy your time on the island. You can spend an hour or a day exploring, relaxing or just walking the beach, soaking up the sunshine. But with so much to do, why rush off?
Hunting for Seashells
Imagine carrying your house on your back or actually having to expand the walls every time you grew! What if you could breathe underwater, eat your food only through a straw and your foot looked like a tongue? That’s exactly what mollusks have to do in order to survive. Mollusks are soft-bodied animals living in shells they build with sand and chemicals from the water. When they die, their “homes” wash up on the beach for us to find. In tropical climates like Panama City Beach, their shells are more colorful and fun to collect. Walking in the sugar-white sands shellsyou might find a vibrant conch or the double turkey-wing shell. But be careful, some snail shells are inhabited by hermit crabs who have a soft tail and carry empty snail shells on their backs for protection.
Exploring along the Nature Trails
Part of Shell Island is designated as St. Andrews State Park. With an inland forest and lake, there’s a wide variety of wildlife living on the island. From white-tailed deer to raccoons and even alligators, it’s amazing the animals you will see while exploring along the trails.
Bird Watching
Because the island has both an inland forest and coastal beaches, there’s a diverse bird population not seen in other parts of Panama City Beach.The most common birds are the gulls, seen on every beach—and often near picnic areas in search of a quick snack from your lunch! Gulls come in many varieties, but generally have white bellies and gray or black backs. Their calls are loud and they’re often seen squabbling with one another. Terns are smaller, sleeker birds with narrow bodies often found along the shore. They’re known for their high speed dives into the ocean in search of fresh fish for dinner. Of course hunting birds like osprey and hawks can be seen circling overhead, their keen eyes on the lookout for a beach mouse or squirrel.
Many anglers, young and old alike enjoy spending time fishing of one of the two jetties. Panama City Beach is known for its diverse population of fish. Anglers are successful catching red snorkeling2snapper, pompano, amberjack and mackerel. Be sure to bring your fishing gear and spend some time casting your line.
The emerald-green water off the beaches of Shell Island is crystal clear. You can explore along the jetties to see invertebrates like sea stars and sea urchin. Colorful fish like Bermuda chub, angelfish and painted grunts dart in and out of the rocks while sea anemones open their fronds to feed. You can go out a little deeper and see a stingray or flounder startled from their resting spot in the sand or thrill at the slow glide of a green turtle heading to the beach to bask in the sun. Of course nothing is more exciting than having a bottlenose dolphin or two join you on your swim. Though these wild animals have freewill to go wherever they please, the large population of dolphin off the shores of Shell Island seem to enjoy human company.
Don’t miss out on this amazing natural resource in Panama City Beach. Be sure to contact Aquatic Adventures to choose the mode of transportation that’s right for your family. We’ve got sail and pontoon boat rentals, jet ski tours and rentals and even a fishing or snorkeling tour if that’s what you enjoy. Give us a call or for easier service, check out our calendar for availability and book online!