Snorkeling St. Andrews State Park, Panama City, Florida

by Mike Sonntag
(Azle, Texas, USA)

I wanted to share that there is snorkeling at St. Andrews State Park, Panama City, Florida. There is a jetty at the end of the peninsula that forms a sheltered area locally referred to as "the lagoon". The jetty acts as an artificial reef, and a fair amount of sea life can be found there. On the other side of the jetty is the channel that connects St. Andrews Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

Underwater, you can hear the shrimp making their distinctive crackling sound just like on a natural reef. The visibility, while nothing like the Caribbean, is workable at high tide.

Lots of kids swim in "the lagoon" and lots of people sunbathe on the beach. There is a dive shop there, and scuba divers go out on the channel side of the jetty. People also fish on the channel side of the jetty.

Although we see Stingrays on the bottom each time we go, they are wary enough of people that they keep out of the way, and we've never heard of anyone getting stung. Once a Spotted Eagle Ray swam around us, and one other time, I swam in formation with 19 Manta Rays.

We generally see Needlefish, Jacks, Slippery Dicks, Mollys, Ladyfish, Atlantic Spadefish, Sheepshead, Gag, Redfish, Bluehead Wrasse, and many others. Last year at low tide, I saw two Octopi in the daylight. There is a resident Queen Angelfish there also.

In August, just after high tide, lots of jellyfish can move through the area, and it is not uncommon for the swimmers to get stung. As a snorkeler, however, you usually can see them and stay out of their way.

We go on a low-cost snorkeling trip there every June and August. If you want to snorkel, but you don't want to take a long trip, this location might interest you.

Comments for Snorkeling St. Andrews State Park, Panama City, Florida

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Apr 24, 2013
Thank you!
by: Nicole & Galen

Mike, thanks for your post. It's so great to get information snorkelers can use to find good spots. Florida is a place we get a lot of questions about, but we have only explored the Keys. Your post will help us as well as others wanting to snorkel in Florida.

Apr 24, 2013
Snorkel Florida
by: Debbie

Planning a Florida trip this summer. Added to the list. Thanks so much for the heads up on the jellies. I live in Atlanta so that will be an easy trip.

Apr 24, 2013
Thanks!
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the great info! I have elderly relatives in that area that I visit several times a year and was wondering how the snorkeling was there. I will definitely sneak away for a few hours and check it out.

Feb 03, 2018
Great Snorkeling Spot!
by: Tony Bradford (TheToneman)

I love snorkeling the jetties at St. Andrews State Park. It's my favorite snorkeling spot on the NW Florida Gulf Coast. I always manage to get lots of great GoPro video moments on every trip. It's the closest to tropical you can get up here. ;)

Mar 10, 2018
Snorkeling Gear Recommendations
by: Anonymous

We will be visiting St. Andrews soon and would like to try snorkeling. We have kids 4, 7, and 11, so we won’t be able to go in deeper water. Will just a mask be enough to have a little fun? If we don’t bring flippers should we have aqua socks to protect our feet?

Thank you.

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