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Sea Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico: Panama City Beach FL

Updated: Sep 27

Panama City Beach is a popular spring break destination, that claims to have the best beaches in the world! With miles of fine white sand beaches and clear waters, this is an incredible location for a swim. Before you jump in, you'll probably need help finding a place to park and take a look at the water conditions.

All along Front Beach Road, there are beachgoers and tourists around which makes parking a challenge. That's why we recommend arriving at the parking lot across the road from the delicious Thomas Donuts & Snack Shop. Please don't park at Thomas Donuts to go to the beach, they'll tow unattended vehicles. If you arrive early in the morning there should be parking spots available, and it's only a short walk from here to the shoreline!

Remember to stay off the grass and plants that protect the sand dunes, these are protected habitats. These are native plants that provide a vital ecosystem service as their roots prevent wind erosion. Sea turtles will nest here occasionally, and endemic species such as the beach mouse live here. Don't ditch the flip-flops until you've walked past the grass, otherwise, cockleburs and broken sandcastle molds hidden in the sand may find their way into your skin.

Take a look around for somewhere to leave your things, and check the flags for current conditions. Typically it's safest to swim during a Green or Yellow flag depending on the riptide or marine life present. Red flags are a high hazard, and double red flags mean the beach is closed to the public.

Once you're ready to go, the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico await. Don't waste a second and jump right in! The gulf waters are perfect to cool you down on a warm summer's day. The fish underneath gentle waves and noisy seagulls are only a fraction of the wildlife that is in this area. Keep an eye out for fish in the water as schools of mullet migrate down the coast.

If you're interested in taking a walk or running down the beach, it's 3 miles to the Russell-Fields Pier (pictured below). There are public bathrooms and water fountains located at the entrance. It costs $4 if you want to walk onto the pier where you will likely see many people fishing. There are many restaurants located nearby at Pier Park if you didn't eat your fill at Thomas Donuts earlier!

For more information about the Beach Warning Flags, riptides, and beach safety visit

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