Panama City Beach Water Activities for Fun in the Sun

Panama City Beach ranks among the best beaches in the U.S., for its family-friendly vibes and stunning beaches. White sand and the Gulf’s gentle waves beckon visitors to get outside and play. No matter what time of year, these Panama City Beach water activities encourage adventure.

Panama City Beach Water Activities for Different Outdoor Experiences

panama city beach water activities

Dolphin Watching

The Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters provide the perfect playground for dolphins. Many companies offer guided dolphin tours where visitors watch them jump, swim and play. These tours last anywhere from an hour to a full day, so guests can customize their adventure. For some ideas, check out Sea Screamer, Flippers Dolphin Tours and Blue Dolphin Tours.

Those who want to swim with a dolphin in Panama City Beach should visit Gulf World. This attraction provides guests the opportunity to interact and swim with dolphins in a safe, controlled environment. Participants also learn how to shake hands, kiss and hug dolphins.

panama city beach sail

Sailing and Pirate Cruises

Cruising is also a favorite among the top Panama City Beach water activities. Those with experience can rent a sailboat for a day or the duration of their stay. For something less labor-intensive, book a private sailing cruise. Both options provide a romantic escape from daily stress. Island Time Sailing and Adventures at Sea offer a good place to inquire about boat rentals and guided options.

Families with children enjoy pirate-themed adventures on the high seas. Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise has pirates on-board and games, activities, and entertainment suitable for all ages. For added adventure, book a trip with Panama City Parasail. This activity suits ages 5 to 90, and allows riders to fly high over the Gulf for a bird’s-eye view.

Snorkel and Scuba Diving

Panama City Beach also offers a prime place for snorkeling and scuba diving. St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island rank among the best places to snorkel. The Shell Island shuttle takes guests to calm waters, so they can begin their snorkel journey. Then explore the jetty and look for tropical fish, crab and rays. Just remember to keep a safe distance from marine life.

Dive Locker helps visitors dive deeper. The area has more than 50 artificial reefs for beginners and skilled divers. See ships, barges, natural limestone reefs and bridge spans. While diving, expect to encounter red snapper, grouper, jellies and dolphins.

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Fishing in Panama City Beach

Fishing also ranks among the top Panama City Beach water activities due to variety and accessibility. The area has dozens of fishing charters that offer trips ranging from a couple of hours to multiple days. Anglers are welcome to fish from the shore, in back-country waters and the deep Gulf.

Types of fish depend on the season. Common migrations include types of mackerel, cobia, tarpon, marlin and yellow fin tuna. Read about the top Panama City Beach fishing charters.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

Solo travelers enjoy stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). The activity combines canoeing and surfing and has grown in popularity. Open waters at the Grand Lagoon, St. Andrews Bay, Gulf of Mexico and area lakes provide scenic places to explore. To rent paddle boards, head to Mr. Surf’s Shop and PCB Paddleboard Rentals.

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Jet Skiing and Jet Surfing

Several companies offer jet ski rentals, so visitors can ride on their terms. Top places to jet ski include the Gulf and bays located in the area. Jet skiing also offers groups and families a fun way to play together. Adventures at Sea offers jet ski rentals and tours at an affordable price.

However, jet surfing is also popular. This activity has redefined water sports by combining water skiing and jet skis. Riders stand on a motorized board similar to surf board and experience speeds up to 36 miles per hour. Jetsurf USA hosts one-hour lesson for groups up to four.

Eco Tours

For something more relaxed, schedule an eco-tour with Coldwater Excursions. The company hosts canoe, kayak and SUP tours in lesser known parts of Panama City Beach. Locations include Holmes Creek, home to a cold springs and free of rip tides. Ecofina Creek, another popular location, measures 6 miles and has 11 springs.

Why wait? Book a Panama City Beach vacation rental and plan an unforgettable adventure.