St. Andrews State Park in Panama City is a great place to explore for the outdoor enthusiast or beach lover. The state park is located on the east side of Panama City. It has water on three sides, a coastal lake, and swamp areas.
We’d been looking forward to the opportunity to explore this park. This past spring we got the opportunity to do just that. We set up camp and had so much fun exploring this beautiful park. During our stay we saw nesting Egrets, deer, dolphins, snakes, and even an alligator. Yes, you’ve got to watch your step on the trail by Gator Lake. You never know what you may come across.
The park has many hiking trails, a spot to snorkel, kayaking areas, boat rentals, and even a boat launch. for your own boat. You may bring your own boat when you camp or rent a pontoon boat for exploring Shell Island.
St. Andrews Park at one time was a military reservation. Visitors can enjoy miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon.
View St. Andrews State Park in a larger map
The campground at St. Andrews park is located on Grand Lagoon. The park has some really nice waterfront camp spots. The campground includes two loops with 176 camp sites. The sites range from tent to RVs up to 40 feet. The grounds include nice bath and laundry facilities. Within a short distance of the camp sites are hiking trails, beaches, boat launch, and a camp store.
Choose from two hiking trails at St. Andrews State Park. The trails are Heron Pond and Gator Lake Trails. Gator Lake gives you great views of the lake which, yes, does include alligators. The Heron Pond trail takes you on a science hike through the Flatwood pine forest and past a historic turpentine still.
We hiked a portion of Gator Lake and enjoyed many surprises along the way such as snakes and even an alligator. These are great trails for view the beauty and wildlife these parks have to offer.
The park includes a public boat ramp and a loading and unloading area. The ramp is located on Grand Lagoon. In addition, a local vendor is available to rent pontoon boats, kayaks, and jet skis.
From this location we launched our stand-up paddleboards. We had a wonderful experience paddling Grand Lagoon. While paddling at sunrise we had the welcome company of playing/feeding dolphins.
During our stay, we also had a great experience renting a pontoon boat. The staff were helpful and showed us the popular spots to go which included a wonderful place to stop and snorkel where you could see live sand dollars, sea urchins, and other sea life. After snorkeling, we anchored at Shell Island, which is an undeveloped island between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay.
Snorkel and Dive
The jetties located in the park are an excellent place for beginner divers and snorkelers. The area inside the jetties is called the kiddy pool. The protected and shallow water creates a safe place to explore the sea life in St. Andrews Park.
Didn’t bring your own equipment? You may rent equipment at any of the concession stores in the state park.
Beach Access & Day Use
Plunge into the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico at the public beach area. The park has over one and a half miles of sugar white sandy beaches and emerald waters. The public beach area gives you access to the open waters of the Gulf or a protected shallow water area in the inlet.
In addition, the state park offers shuttle boat tours over to Shell Island where you can enjoy both bay and gulf swimming.