No trip to Panama City Beach Florida, is complete until you’ve taken a day trip to Shell Island, one of the top attractions in Panama City Beach. This undeveloped 700-acre barrier island is just a short Shuttle boat ride away from St. Andrews State Park. In fact, the island is actually a part of the park but separated from the mainland by the St. Andrews Shipping Channel, or the Pass as locals call it.
Completely unspoiled, with nothing by miles of sugary white sand beach, sand dunes, and coastal scrub and grass terrain, Shell Island could not be more of a contrast to the heavily populated Panama City Beach strip to the north. Lazing on the beach, snorkeling, taking nature walks, and collecting shells are the only things happening on this peaceful island.
This pristine island wildlife sanctuary is home to many rare and endangered birds and animals that thrived along the Florida Panhandle coast before the age of human development. Piping plovers, hawks, marsh rabbits, deer, and armadillos are a few of the creatures that call the island home. Sea turtles make their way ashore here each year to nest. Ghost crabs, starfish, rays, and a variety of tropical fish can be spotted while snorkeling offshore and around the jetty. And St. Andrew Bay is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of bottle-nosed dolphins. Lucky visitors often spot a group frolicking near the shore.
Throughout history, Shell Island has been the site of a Native American settlement, the landing place of Spanish explorers, and an anchorage for pirate ships. Both old and modern efforts to develop the island have usually been quickly undone by hurricanes, leaving the natural setting so many people enjoy today.
The official Shell Island Shuttle is the safest and easiest way to reach the island. Shuttles run every 30 minutes from 9 to 5, 7 days a week during the busy summer season and every hour from 10 to 4 during spring and fall. The off season schedule varies, so be sure to call ahead and check. For an incredible all-day family adventure, rent your own pontoon boat from Panama City Beach Boat Rentals. You can make all the arrangements right here online and pick up your boat at the dock in the St Andrews State Park Marina. Cruise the Bay, go swimming, fishing, and snorkeling, then pull up in the shelter of the Shell Island jetty for a picnic on the water.
When you cross to Shell Island on the Shuttle, feel free to bring your cooler, chairs, and beach gear with you. If you are short on supplies, stock up at the Pier Store before boarding the bus down to the Shuttle dock. If you are renting a pontoon, the Camp Store near the Marina has everything needed for a great day on the water.
Please keep in mind that there are no restroom facilities, concession stands, trash receptacles, picnic tables or shade pavilions on Shell Island, so take everything you need, and plan on taking it all back with you as well! We all need to protect the island for everyone’s future enjoyment. Plan your Shell Island day trip soon and we will see you on the beach!
Looking for things to do in Panama City Beach? Take our Shuttle over to Shell Island, rent a pontoon boat, or even take a dolphin tour.
Explore Shell Island on your own time with your family and friends with one of our, well maintained, Shell Island Pontoon Boat Rentals.Learn More
Our Shell Island Dolphin Tours are one of the most memorable experiences you will have while visiting Panama City Beach.Learn More
Shell Island is a local hot spot for snorkeling in Panama City Beach, Florida. Begin your adventure with Shell Island Shuttle.Learn More