Shell Island is an incredible uninhabited island near Panama City Beach, Florida with beautiful warm water. Spending a day out here is so much fun.

Shell Island, FloridaShell Island

Next time you are in Panama City Beach rent a boat or jump on a shuttle and take a trip out to Shell Island. Shell Island is a 7-mile long undeveloped 700-acre barrier island just out a short distance away in the Gulf of Mexico and easily accessible from Panama City Beach, Florida. The island runs east to west between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. I promise you it will be an awesome day.

 

How to get to Shell IslandShell Island Shuttle

You can rent a boat like we did or catch a shuttle from St. Andrews State Park. The official Shell Island Shuttle carries passengers between St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island 1/2 hour during the high season, 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shuttle tickets cost $19.95 Adults – $10.95 Children (12 and under)  Infants free! (12 months and under)

There are several places that rent boats around the area, including Tyndall AFB if you happen to be military. Keep in mind it’s a long boat ride from Tyndall out there.Shell Island board walk down to the beach

On a nice day, there will be a lot of boats out there. The water on the side that faces toward Panama City Beach, FL is quite calm. You can walk over the other side that faces into the open Gulf of Mexico and the waves are much larger and there are more shells.

Shell Island, Florida This is the side with larger waves. You can see the difference. I feel like the side facing the Gulf of Mexico is even more unspoiled since the boats do not come around here. However, the whole island is covered in pure white sand, and from either side, you might just see a bottlenose dolphin! There are lots of dolphins throughout the entire area so hopefully, you will see at least one or two. Shell Island, Florida

 

We mostly stuck to the calm side where the kids could run, play, and swim.Collecting shells out on Shell Island near Panama City Beach, Florida

Things to do on Shell Island

Now, just a side note about Shell Island. I’ve seen a lot of blog posts say things to do at Shell Island and that’s just false advertising because there’s nothing on the island. You make the fun for yourself, so here are some things you can do!
  • Boogie board
  • Build sandcastles
  • Chase each other  down the beach
  • Collect shells
  • Fly a kite
  • Suntan 
  • Wade in the water
  • Have a picnic
  • Float around in the water on a floaty
  • Bird watch
  • Try to spot a sea turtle or a bottlenose dolphin
Playing out on Shell Island near Panama City Beach, Florida
There are a lot of companies that you can pay to take you out to Shell Island as part of a more elaborate excursion like a sunset catamaran tour
Swimming out on Shell Island near Panama City Beach, Florida

 

Shell Island near Panama City Beach, Florida

Shel Island Packing List

There is nothing out here so you will need to take everything you need for the day with you. Here is a list of suggested things to take with you.
  • Water
  • Life jackets
  • Sunscreen
  • Bronzing lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel (optional)
  • Beach Blanket
  • Snorkel set
  • Goggles
  • Waterproof Camera
  • Bathing suits
  • Bathing suit cover-up
  • Sun shirt with built-in SPF
  • Flip flops
  • Wide-brimmed hats
  • Water shoes
  • Sunshade/Umbrella
  • Skimboard
  • Boogie Board
  • Blow-up float
  • Frisbee
  • Kite
  • Food
  • More Water
  • Cooler
  • Sand toys

Boating out to Shell Island
I recommend grabbing sandwiches from a local restaurant and taking them out there with you. Because of the wind, you will not want to make sandwiches from scratch on the beach. They will be full of sand. 

Boating out to Shell Island
Just for fun, here are a few pictures of my kids having fun on the boat! We let Noah drive! He did a great job!

Boating out to Shell Island
 

Boating out to Shell Island
 

Boating out to Shell Island
Out here you’ll find natural Florida, where sand dunes, coastal scrub forest, pine hammocks, and an inland lake provides the perfect home for deer, nesting shorebirds, and all manner of coastal creatures, including ghost crabs and endangered species such as Choctawhatchee Beach Mice, piping plovers, snowy plovers, and loggerhead and green sea turtlesHow to get to Shell Island Things to do in Shell Island, Florida