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, named for the abundant number of bays in the area, is lined with 27 miles of pristine white sandy beaches along the emerald coast. Hidden under the gulf are sunken shipwrecks, coral communities, and beautiful tropical fish.
Panama City Beach is one of the top diving destinations in Florida, home to over 50 sunken wreck sites. Follow along the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail and see firsthand how these sites now act as artificial reefs to protect the aquatic wildlife.
Pier Park in Panama City Beach is a popular location for more than excellent shopping, but also for festive events and entertaining attractions. With over 120 stores, this makes for a great shopping destination for both visitors and locals. Walk out on to the pier and watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Take part in their seasonal events such as the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop or the Pirates of the High Seas Fest. Dine for anything from a quick bite to a four-course meal. Whatever you are looking for; you can find it here.
Bordered by both the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, St. Andrews State Park offers 4.6 miles of pristine and natural beaches lined with sand dunes, marshes, and flatwood pine forest. Across Saint Andrews Bay sits Shell Island, a 7-mile-long undeveloped island that is only by accessible by boat. It is home to many of Florida’s native wildlife such ghost crab, sea turtles, and shorebirds. With the protected Jetty, it is a haven for colorful fish, sea turtles, and crabs making it a prime location to snorkel. Take the Shell Island Ferry from St. Andrews State Park and spend the day in the surf and under the sun.
St. Andrews Aquatic Preserve is one of the more highly diverse and fragile estuaries in America and is home to sponge beds, salt marshes, seagrass beds, coral communities and over 2,900 species. With 24,000 acres of protected waters that spread over three miles out into the gulf, this aquatic preserve allows for visitors a space to watch coastal birds, snorkel with semi-tropical fish, paddle along the coastline, and try your hand at fishing.
On the border of Walton and Bay County sits Camp Helen State Park. This state parks borders the largest coastal dune lake in Florida and North America, Lake Powell. Because of the exchange of water with the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for a larger variety of wildlife together, you can find a variety of both saltwater and freshwater species. This rare lake is a prime location for kayaking, birdwatching, and fishing.
September 20, 2023 - 3:15pm
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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.