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FloridaPanama City Beach

Panama City Beach

Through the years, Panama City Beach has earned several interesting monikers - "Best Beach in America," "Wreck Capital of the South," "Best Sports Beach on the Gulf," "Seafood Capital of the World" -but Panama City is nothing if not a good, old-fashioned American beach town.

Twenty-seven miles of snowy white Panama City Beaches. Lots of toys (boogie boards, beach trikes, "banana boats," Waverunners, you name it) by those silky sands. Lots of places to play off the beach, too (at mini-golf, go karts, amusement parks). A beach (at St. Andrews State Park) that's been named number one in the nation -- by a man who takes his sand seriously enough to call himself Dr. Beach (his real name is Dr. Stephen Leatherman, coastal geomorphologist and Florida International University professor). And the water, so unbelievably crystal clear and green it almost seems like a colorized Ted Turner flick.

It would seem like a movie, except the crazy thing is it's all true.

Even better, in the beach beauty contests of the world, Panama City Beach wins more than the swimsuit competition. She also takes top honors as Miss Congeniality, with a Southern accent.

From the friendly little waitress who brings you fried oysters and a frosty mug to the old salt at the bait shop who shares his favorite fishing hole with you, Panama City locals never met a visitor they didn't like. Be sure you check your big-city ego at the city limits and respond in kind.

On and In the Water

Walk out on the sand and discover it all for yourself. If it was ever your dream to swim with dolphins in Florida, or even just watch them play from the shore or a boat, you have come to the right place. For Panama City Beach fishing, check out Panama City Beach's fishing fleet with everything from 16-foot skiffs to million-dollar sport fishing yachts waiting to take you out to the action. In spring, try your luck at Spanish mackerel and blue fish, along with trout, redfish, pompano, cobia and the feisty Jack crevalle. On the bottom, there's snapper, grouper, amberjack and triggerfish. In summer, trout and redfish are found in the bay, usually early or late in the day. To improve your luck, head out with one of the experienced captains listed in this guide.

Our emerald green waters also a siren song for those who want to dive and snorkel in Florida. Underwater photographer Greg Johnston has been visiting these waters for years and says a good local dive is by the old spans of the Hathaway Bridge, scattered in depths between 35 and 100 feet. Another favorite dive is the wreck of the tugboat Grey Ghost, resting on its side in 100 feet of water. Visitors who aren't certified for Florida scuba diving will want to try snorkeling. It's a great way to get a look at Panama City Beach's underwater world. Local dive stops provide the know-how and the equipment. Panama City Beach accommodations offer everything from classy resorts and condos to cozy beach cottages. Choose an Panama City Beach rental that suits your style using our accommodations search.

And On Dry Land

Out of the water, there's plenty to keep the family busy, from walking the nature trails at St. Andrews State Park (look out for alligators) to playing one of the Panama City golf courses to enjoying one of Panama City Beach's attractions. After all of this activity, you'll want to settle down with a cold one and a delicious meal at one of dozens of Panama City Beach restaurants. Seafood is served up just-caught fresh here, and cooked in every way imaginable, from crispy fried to sauteed in wine and butter with capers on top. There are plenty of Southern favorites too, along with a bit of Cajun influence, on area menus. And you gotta love a place where even the restaurants have a little attitude: one local restaurant shoots off a cannon each evening to celebrate sunset.

It doesn't take long to get in the spirit of the place, to find your own favorite hangouts and to revel in the experience of having no timetable to meet, no particular place you have to be. All with the delicious sensation of having plenty of wonderful choices in front of you. We hope this guide helps you get there.