Things To Know About Shell Island
Visit Shell Island for snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, seashell hunting, fishing and much more!
Shell Island, a destination for many who come to Panama City Beach due to its unaltered state, is a small barrier island stretching 7 miles along the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and is home to two endangered species of sea turtles. At the west end of the island you are an extension of St. Andrews State Park and to the east, Tyndall Air Force Base. Shell Island is known for the ability to anchor your boat just off the shore and swim on in to the Island or just enjoy the mesmerizing relaxation of the gently rolling waves from the comfort of your own pontoon boat. Either way is fine!
Here are some commonly asked questions about visiting Shell Island:
What can I do on shell island?
There is no limit to the activities you can experience at or on Shell Island! You can swim, snorkel, paddleboard, go kayaking, sunbathe, hunt seashells, go hiking, have a picnic, and more! Two things to remember are that there are no facilities located on the island and that you should leave the island just as you found it. Following a “leave no trace” mentality will ensure Shell Island is preserved for generations to come.
What kind of seashells can I find on Shell Island?
You can find sand dollars, conch shells, moon snails, pin shells, periwinkles, whelk, olive shells and more! The best part is that there is no limit to the number of shells you can collect in this shell-filled wonderland! The only thing is, please make sure no one is home. Every shell has been or is home to a sea creature and if the shell is currently inhabited you are not permitted to remove it without a license. In fact, depending on the creature, you may receive a hefty fine.
Are there sea turtles on Shell Island?
Yes, there are! Shell Island is home to Loggerhead turtles and Green Turtles, both of which are listed on the endangered species list. It is important to remember that if you come across a designated (or undesignated) nesting area that you leave them just as you found them. Most of the time these areas are marked by signage, but you never know.
It is important to note that turtle nesting season is between May and October and that during that time, you can see the turtles make their way from the sea at night to lay their precious eggs and then heading back the same way they came. If you happen to be visiting Shell Island at the right time, you can even see the newborn hatchlings make their way to the water to begin their grand exodus!
During these times you must be especially careful not to disturb the turtles as their chances of survival depend on them successfully making the journey between sand and sea, in fact, only 1 in a thousand of these babies will make it to adulthood! If you would like more information about sea turtles visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Can I fish on Shell Island?
If you can get to Shell Island you are more than welcome to fish off the jetties, cast a line off the shore, or rent a pontoon boat and cast off the deck! Make sure you check out Florida’s licensing requirements to prevent any issues.
Aside from a fishing license, you are also required to have special licensing to remove any living sea life such as plants, sea urchins, and sand dollars.
How can I get to Shell Island?
Are there dolphins around Shell Island?
As a matter of fact, there are bottlenose dolphins swimming in the waters off of Shell Island! You can regularly catch them frolicking in the waves but as they are wild, they may not always be visible. While we can’t guarantee a sighting, we do have some options available to make it a little easier and in some cases let you swim with the dolphins: Jet Ski Dolphin Tours, Dolphin Boat Snorkeling Trips, or Jet Ski Dolphin Adventure Tours.
If you want an exceptionally beautiful tour where dolphins are at their best, we highly recommend sailing on the Island Time Sailing Sunset Cruise.
Please remember: If you are lucky enough to encounter them while visiting Shell Island, please don’t feed them or harass them. We know you mean well, but it is much safer this way for them.
How long does it take to get to Shell Island?
It takes anywhere from 10-25 minutes to get to Shell Island. Of course it depends on the water conditions and your chosen method of getting there. It is recommended that you only attempt to travel to Shell Island by way of boat or jet ski as the currents are a bit strong for paddle boarding to the island.
If you are interested in paddle boarding around Shell Island, be sure to either take one with you on your boat or check out our Snorkel & Sail Shell Island trip which includes paddleboards.
Are there any restaurants or buildings on Shell Island?
When visiting Shell Island, please remember that the island is left to nature and that means no buildings of any kind (bathrooms included!). You are more than welcome to bring a picnic or if you are on one of our snorkel and sail trips, we have some drinks and snacks available for sale.