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15 Best and Nearest Beaches to Panama City, FL

Florida's Panama City is a name synonymous with sun-kissed shores, emerald waters, and a relaxed coastal vibe. Discover the area's best beaches!
An aerial view of Panama City in Florida during the gorgeous sunset

Florida’s Panama City is a name synonymous with sun-kissed shores, emerald waters, and a relaxed coastal vibe.

The myriad of beaches that stretch beyond its borders, each with its unique charm and allure.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie hunting for water sports, a family seeking the perfect picnic spot, or a couple yearning for a serene sunset backdrop, we’ve scoured the coast to bring you the very best.

Dive deep into bustling boardwalks, explore hidden coves, or simply lay back and let the waves do the talking.

Check out the best and the nearest beach options to Panama City!

1. Panama City Beach

a mesmerizing sunrise front beach view of Panama City Beach in, Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 0 miles
  • Activities: snorkeling, diving, surfing, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving
  • Facilities: rental, volleyball net, boardwalk, restaurant

Nestled along Florida’s pristine Emerald Coast, Panama City Beach boasts an expansive 27-mile stretch of powdery white sand and glistening turquoise waters.

With dozens of public access points, this idyllic setting welcomes beachgoers to indulge in a myriad of activities — from swimming and sunning to jet ski rentals and boat tours.

Families have no shortage of options, whether it’s exploring the vibrant marine life at St. Andrews State Park or diving into fresh local seafood at waterfront eateries.

As a haven for fishermen and scuba enthusiasts, the area features dozens of artificial reefs just offshore.

And let’s not forget the legendary sunsets; with a coastline that subtly angles westward, daily spectacles of the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico await.

Amenities are abundant, catering to both adults and children, ensuring an experience that’s as relaxing or action-packed as you desire.

2. M.B. Miller County Pier

Gulf of Mexico shoreline with M.B. Miller County Pier in Panama City Beach, Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 12 miles
  • Activities: fishing, picnicking, swimming, sunbathing
  • Facilities: restroom, shower, boardwalk, parking, pier, rentals

Situated along the pristine shores of the Emerald Coast, the M.B. Miller County Pier is Panama City’s treasured hotspot for both visitors and locals.

This iconic structure not only offers an unparalleled beach access point but also promises a rich aquatic experience.

As one ventures along its length, an array of marine life, from playful fish near the shore to the magnificent sight of sea turtles and stingrays, unveils itself.

Aiming for more than just a leisurely walk? The pier has got you covered.

With rod and reel rentals available at its quaint tackle store, aspiring fishermen can delve into deep-sea fishing adventures.

Amenities, including restrooms conveniently located at various points, elevate the experience.

Whether it’s to witness a mesmerizing sunset or to embark on a fishing escapade, the pier’s offerings are bountiful and beckoning.

3. Rick Seltzer Park

Beach Lounge Chair by the Shore at Rick Seltzer Park, Panama City, Florida
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Panama City: 11 miles
  • Activities: picnicking, surfing, bodyboarding, paddle boarding, swimming, sunbathing
  • Facilities: parking, bathroom, shower, picnic areas, pavilion, grills, lifeguard, boardwalk

Rick Seltzer Park offers visitors a slice of beachside tranquility, uniquely free from the looming shadows of high-rises.

With ample and complimentary parking, guests are welcomed to a pristine beach flanked by grassy picnic areas, ideal for those who fancy a sandy-free snack.

The park showcases nature’s untouched beauty while also catering to modern comforts.

Its bathrooms, meticulously maintained, are paired with outdoor showers, designed to give visitors a refreshing rinse post-swim.

The site beams with activity: children delight in the park’s playground, swimmers bask in the warm Gulf waters, and anglers find solace at the extending pier.

Lifeguards ensure safety while the azure waters invite exploration.

4. St. Andrews State Park

St Andrews State Park
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Panama City: 11 miles
  • Activities: camping, fishing, picnicking, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, swimming
  • Facilities: campground, boat ramp, concession, picnic tables, restroom

St. Andrews State Park, often touted as one of the finest beaches along Florida’s coastline, offers visitors an unparalleled beach experience.

Its clear waters and immaculate sands make it a prime spot for sunbathing, snorkeling, and picnicking.

However, the park isn’t just about the beach; the famed gator pass provides thrilling sightings of gators and an array of seabirds, making it an ideal location for wildlife enthusiasts.

Families, from novice campers to seasoned RV travelers, praise the clean and spacious camping sites.

Activities are abound – from frisbee and kite flying to shore fishing and scuba diving around the jetties.

With ample amenities, including restrooms, shaded picnic spots, and an excellent boat ramp, St. Andrews truly stands out as a coastal sanctuary.

5. Shell Island Beach

Shell Island Beach near Panama City Beach, Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 13 miles
  • Activities: kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, shell hunting, swimming, sunbathing
  • Facilities: chair and umbrella rental, parking, shower, restroom, dog-friendly

Just a short ferry ride away from St. Andrews State Park, Shell Island Beach stands as an unspoiled sanctuary offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Panama City Beach.

The Shell Island Shuttle serves as the official waterway, ensuring a safe and hassle-free journey to this slice of paradise.

For those seeking a more personalized experience, private pontoon boats are readily available for rent.

Once ashore, the island presents an array of enticing activities.

Snorkeling is top-notch, promising encounters with local bottlenose dolphins and nesting sea turtles.

Nature enthusiasts can explore inland trails that reveal the island’s unique flora and fauna.

Amenities may be limited, but the beach provides essential conveniences like parking, restrooms, and showers.

From its azure waters to its diverse marine life, Shell Island Beach offers an unparalleled experience for visitors.

6. Camp Helen State Park

Vertical shot of the wooden structures in Camp Helen State Park on a sunny day in Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 24 miles
  • Activities: birding, fishing, hiking, picnicking, kayaking, paddle boarding
  • Facilities: parking, pavilion, restroom, shower, picnic tables

Nestled between the shimmering waters of the Gulf and the expansive Lake Powell, Camp Helen State Park stands as a testament to both nature’s bounty and Florida’s rich history.

This 183-acre haven, with roots tracing back over 4,000 years, offers visitors an idyllic beach experience alongside historical treasures.

Most of the park’s vintage structures have been meticulously restored, paying homage to its time as a resort for Avondale Mills employees.

Modern-day explorers can indulge in a myriad of activities: from beachcombing and bird-watching to hiking and biking along scenic trails.

Both freshwater and saltwater fishing enthusiasts find solace here.

With well-maintained, accessible restrooms and a serene beach setting that often escapes tourist crowds, Camp Helen promises a delightful escape for both history buffs and beach lovers.

7. Crooked Island Beach

Emerald waters and sugar white sands along Crooked Island Beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 23 miles
  • Activities: shell hunting, fishing, kayaking, sunbathing, swimming
  • Facilities: parking, boardwalk

Tucked away north of Mexico Beach down an easily overlooked dirt road, Crooked Island Beach offers a tranquil alternative to the crowded expanses of Panama City.

This hidden gem, owned by the military but open to the public, is a haven of serene beauty, perfect for those yearning for a quieter, less touristic experience.

The beach greets visitors with pristine white sands, mere steps away from a convenient parking lot.

Calm, clear waters make for ideal swimming conditions, particularly welcoming for young families.

For shell enthusiasts, the beach is a treasure trove filled with sand dollars and unique shells best discovered in the morning light.

Anglers too will find the spot agreeable, as the area is well-known for its fishing opportunities, and the local community is more than willing to share tips.

With an atmosphere that’s both peaceful and inviting, Crooked Island Beach stands out as an intimate sanctuary for all.

8. Mexico Beach

gorgeous beach at Mexico Beach near Valdosta GA
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 25 miles
  • Activities: swimming, fishing, shell hunting
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, restaurants

Mexico Beach offers a sublime escape for beachgoers, setting itself apart with pristine shores, crystalline waters, and spectacular sunsets that splash the horizon with vibrant colors.

Whether it’s the sight of playful dolphins or the thrill of spotting baby sharks, the marine life here is nothing short of captivating.

Those in search of gastronomic delights will find satisfaction at local gems like Sand Dollar Cafe and Shipwreck Raw Bar.

What makes Mexico Beach truly convenient is the ample, free parking just yards away from the beach, connected by well-constructed boardwalks that provide easy access to the soft white sands.

The area is in the midst of rebuilding after a storm, but its beauty remains undiminished, still offering a serene setting for shell hunting, bird watching, and simple relaxation. It’s not just a beach; it’s a rejuvenating experience.

9. Rosemary Beach

Awesome Curved-Earth 30A Beach Scene in North Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 24 miles
  • Activities: biking, shell hunting, walking, surfing, picnicking, kayaking, paddleboarding
  • Facilities: umbrella and chair rental, boardwalk, parking, dog-friendly, restroom

Rosemary Beach, nestled between Destin and Panama City, offers an unparalleled beach experience that seamlessly merges luxury with a hint of nostalgia.

This captivating beach haven boasts powdery soft white sands, clear azure waters, and an array of sea treasures waiting to be uncovered.

Visitors are treated to an eclectic mix of high-end shops, gourmet dining, and occasional farmers markets.

Activities abound: whether it’s running along the picturesque paths, biking through the “French Quarter”-inspired Town Center, or diving into one of the four pristine swimming pools.

For those seeking tranquility, the evenings hold the promise of boardwalk promenades and alfresco dining experiences.

But remember, access to this exclusive beach is reserved for guests and residents, making it a tranquil and private escape from the everyday hustle.

Rosemary Beach truly embodies South Walton’s charm and elegance.

10. Walton Dunes Beach Access

Sand dunes and sea oats at Florida Gulf of Mexico beach on sunny summer day along sparkling ocean in the background
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 31 miles
  • Activities: walking, biking, swimming, sunbathing, bonfire
  • Facilities: parking, pier

Just a mile off Scenic 30A, Walton Dunes Beach Access emerges as a coastal haven, flanked by the picturesque Eastern Lake.

Famed for its expansiveness, it becomes an ideal spot for hosting memorable beach bonfires.

Visitors are enchanted by its sugar-like sand and the captivating dance of the pristine waters against the shore, further accentuated by spellbinding sunsets.

But it’s not just nature’s artwork that shines; local beach ambassadors are ever-present, ensuring visitors adhere to local guidelines and sharing insider tips.

From glimpses of diverse marine life to the cool breezes that whisk away your stresses, this location promises both tranquility and thrill.

A user-friendly access point and impeccable maintenance make Walton Dunes a preferred escape from the routine, offering a genuine taste of 30A’s coastal charm.

11. Seagrove Beach

Visitors enjoying the beautiful dunes style beach in this popular coastal community in the North Florida panhandle
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 36 mile
  • Activities: shopping, swimming, sunbathing, biking, walking
  • Facilities: lifeguards, restaurant, parking

Seagrove Beach offers an immersive experience of soft white sands and crystal-clear waters that glisten under the sun’s glow.

Acclaimed as one of the U.S.’s premier beaches, it is not just nature’s allure that captures hearts, but the community’s dedication to maintaining its pristine charm.

Families, especially those with young ones, find solace in its serene ambiance, steering clear of boisterous crowds.

While the beach caters to those seeking a tranquil reprieve, it is also conveniently proximate to family-friendly activities, dining, and shopping, all largely sustained by local businesses.

From witnessing breathtaking sunsets to enjoying the comforts of local establishments, Seagrove Beach effortlessly marries natural beauty with community spirit, making it a must-visit coastal retreat.

12. Grayton Beach State Park

This photo depicts an aerial view of Grayton Beach and the Western Lake Outflow with a curved earth effect
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 37 miles
  • Activities: hiking, camping, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, wildlife viewing, paddle boarding, 
  • Facilities: rentals, restroom, picnic tables, showers, limited parking

Located just minutes away from other popular beaches, Grayton Beach State Park offers a uniquely tranquil escape in the Sunshine State.

Ideal for families and nature lovers, this park pairs its pristine white sands with crystalline waters that transition from clear blue to shimmering green.

Unlike other bustling public beaches, Grayton remains blissfully uncrowded, its natural splendor enhanced by abundant marine life including dolphins, starfish, and hermit crabs.

Practical amenities abound: a convenient tram service, ample but limited parking, and well-maintained restrooms.

For the more adventurous, paddleboarding and hiking through the dunes offer a different kind of fun.

A cool beachside bar completes the experience, ensuring that relaxation is always within reach.

Walking trails adorned with intact seashells and changes in flora offer an alternative, immersive experience.

Whether you’re here for the day or planning an extended stay—Grayton Beach State Park offers an idyllic setting where you can truly get lost in nature.

13. Blue Mountain Beach

Beautiful day at Blue Mountain Beach on Highway 30A in Florida
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 40 miles
  • Activities: surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sunbathing, swimming
  • Facilities: bathrooms, parking, lifeguard, rentals

For those seeking an idyllic retreat, Blue Mountain Beach is a coastal gem waiting to be discovered.

This beach offers an inviting blend of pristine white sands and crystalline blue waters.

Whether you’re an early riser hoping to catch a sublime sunrise or a nocturnal soul mesmerized by the night sky, Blue Mountain provides the perfect backdrop.

The beach is outfitted with rental chairs and umbrellas, yet there’s still ample room for everyone.

As the clock hits 5, these rentals clear out, offering an even more secluded experience.

Nearby, a warm-water lake presents a delightful alternative for kids who enjoy fishing and crab catching.

Culinary treats like Redfish Tacos and the unmissable Blue Mountain Creamery add local flavor to your visit.

With fair parking options and an array of staple restaurants, this less crowded beach is fast becoming a family tradition.

14. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park near Panama City Florida
Source: wikimedia/CC BY 3.0
  • Distance from Panama City: 56 miles
  • Activities: fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, camping, picnicking
  • Facilities: picnic area, playground, shower, campground, parking, pavilion

Consistently ranked among the best state parks and beaches in the U.S., St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is more than just a beach; it’s a sanctuary of diverse natural beauty.

Located on the east end of St. George Island, the park caters to a range of outdoor enthusiasts.

Whether you’re inclined to snorkel amidst abundant marine life in the gulf or hike the intricate web of trails, there’s something for everyone.

The park offers 119 fully-equipped campsites and seven cozy cabins, complete with kitchens and fireplaces.

Amenities are top-notch, including well-maintained restrooms, a picnic area, and a small store offering bait and ice.

The more adventurous can rent kayaks for deeper exploration. Birdwatchers will find the area particularly inviting, especially during the fall migration.

A peaceful alternative to more crowded locations, this park promises an all-encompassing nature experience.

15. St. George Island State Park

scenic scene at St. George Island State Park ner Panama City
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Panama City: 75 miles
  • Activities: snorkeling, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, swimming, shell hunting
  • Facilities: picnic area, shower, playground, parking, restroom, picnic table

Nestled on a pristine barrier island, St. George Island State Park boasts miles of untouched beaches and offers a rich tapestry of activities for nature enthusiasts.

From sunbathing and swimming to canoeing and kayaking, the park provides a gamut of outdoor experiences.

Anglers are drawn to the park’s wealth of fishing opportunities, with catches like flounder, redfish, and Spanish mackerel available both offshore and in the Apalachicola Bay.

It’s not just anglers who are rewarded; beachcombers find joy in shelling, while wildlife enthusiasts delight in seasonal nesting of sea turtles, shore birds, and frequent dolphin sightings.

The park’s amenities include six picnic shelters, equipped with grills and tables, a 60-site campground, and unique facilities like beach wheelchairs and mobility mats for accessibility.

Whether you’re an avid photographer, camper, or just seeking tranquility, St. George Island State Park beckons.

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