I’d like to introduce myself, and share my experience with y’all. My name is Lauren, and I’m the Sales Manager for Snorkel-Mart and Deep Blue Gear. For those of us in the United States looking for a beach getaway without the need for a passport, Panama City Beach in Florida is a great place to go. I recently returned from a family vacation to the Emerald Coast, which is packed with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and plenty to do for all ages.
I stayed on the southern end of Panama City Beach, and shore entry snorkeling was most convenient for me. With no need for boats or fancy equipment, I strapped on my Vue Tech Full Face Mask and hit the water. Since the water was fairly shallow, I didn’t find the need for fins. For anyone considering an excursion from a boat or in deeper water, I would recommend them as I can see how fins would be helpful in open water where your kick needs more oomph.
While snorkeling along the coast, I was able to see small fish that would nibble on toes, some larger common snook, and a handful of tiny crabs. The one thing I enjoyed most about the Vue Tech was not worrying about water leaking into my mask when a bigger wave would roll through. Seamlessly, the float mechanism in the snorkel tube would activate and the experience was fog and water free.
My 5 year old nephew also joined in on the snorkeling fun. While he opted for a traditional mask and snorkel style, I was impressed with his enthusiasm for snorkeling because it was his first time in the ocean. He used the Kid’s Maui Jr. Mask and Ultra Dry Jr. Snorkel. The pliable mouthpiece fit well in his mouth, and just like with the Vue Tech, the float mechanism in the snorkel worked perfectly to keep water out. I would definitely recommend a snorkel vest or floating aid for kids in this age group. Staying on top of the water was one of the bigger challenges my nephew faced while snorkeling, and a snorkel vest is the perfect solution!
For those of you looking for more of an adventure, I have a few recommendations. The first is snorkeling at St. Andrews State Park using the Shell Island Shuttle. This 700-acre barrier island lies between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay. You can bring your own snorkeling equipment or rent it from the Shuttle. Come prepared by bringing any chairs, snacks, or toys you would need for a fun day in the sun, as this island does not provide any amenities.
Another snorkeling opportunity I’d recommend is the Sea Screamer. The Sea Screamer offers a 2.5 hour snorkeling excursion to Shell Island. Your fee for the trip includes your rental mask, snorkel and vest, however they do encourage you to bring aqua shoes and your own towels. If snorkeling is not your thing, you can simply ride along on this excursion boat and enjoy the views of ocean life. The Sea Screamer also offers boat rides through the gulf on the other boats in their fleet.
If Panama City Beach is on your travel list, we know you’ll enjoy snorkeling in the pristine waters. Have questions or comments? Contact us.