Tyndall Air Force Base (Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton)
Bays & Inlets
East, North, West & St. Andrew bays, St. Andrews Sound, Wild Goose Lagoon, Watson Bayou, Deer Point Lake
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Apalachicola River, Chipola River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Holmes Creek, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
Bay County attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year to its 27 miles of sandy-white beaches on crystal-blue gulf waters hiding sunken shipwreck treasures and large pods of dolphins.
Named for the abundance of bays and bayous covering 25 percent of the land, almost half of this coast, including the 9-mile inlet of Crooked Island, is undeveloped, bordered by Tyndall Air Force Base.
Most of Bay's cities cluster along the coast from quaint, old-Florida Mexico Beach on its eastern boundary west past St. Andrews State Park to the more busy life of Panama City Beach with highrises, nightlife and water parks.
St. Andrews State Park boasts 4.6 miles of undeveloped coast and acres of unspoiled beaches, dunes, pine woods and marshes. Its amenities include 176 campsites overlooking Grand Lagoon, two fishing piers, a jetty, a boat ramp and two nature trails.
Panama City's historic commercial center, St. Andrews Waterfront Community, was revitalized and renovated to maintain its small village atmosphere with grants from the Florida Coastal Management Program.
The more adventurous can take a boat off Alligator Point to the seven-mile barrier island, Shell Island, surrounded by rock jetties, seagrass beds, semi-tropical fish, such as angel and parrot fish, and the clear waters of St. Andrews Aquatic Preserve. The aquatic preserve is one of the most diverse and fragile estuaries in North America, covering 25,000 acres that spread over three miles out into the gulf. It encompasses the entrance to 69,000-acre St. Andrews Bay, the largest body of water and expanse of seagrass in west Florida. More than 2,100 marine species - among them horseshoe crab, blue crab, stone crab, ghost crab, horse conk, sand dollar and starfish - inhabit the bay. No major river flows into St. Andrews Bay.
Camp Helen State Park looks over 650-acre Powell Lake, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the state. It is the site of a 1930s-era lodge and cottages and 4,000-year-old prehistoric mounds.
February 10, 2020 - 1:03pm
Interested in subscribing to DEP newsletters or receiving DEP updates through email?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.