Located at the very tip of the Panama City Beach “peninsula,” the 700-acre St. Andrews State Park is a nature-lover’s getaway. For wildlife aficionados, check out the alligators at Gator Lake, the flocks on Bird Island or — if luck favors your visit — the sea turtles, deer and dolphins that live incognito around the park.
But the real gem is the beach. Choose from two miles of sand accessible by foot or the uninhabited shores of Shell Island, only a boat ride away.
“Everything around this park revolves around water,” said Brian Addison, park manager.
He calls Shell Island, an uninhabited beach near the park, “a throwback in time, no condos, no structures … the way Florida was before all that.”
The aptly named island is strewn with shells collectors are welcome to gather. The sand is white, the water, clear, and the birds, bold — a good opportunity for shutterbugs to catch waterfowl up-close. A ticketed boat shuttle from the park gets you there and back.