Located in Panama City Beach, nestled between St. Andrews Bay and the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lies the outdoor enthusiasts and ocean lovers paradise of St. Andrews State Park.
John and I spent a wonderful, fun-filled 4 days and 3 nights camping, playing in the Gulf, and enjoying the views in this spectacular Florida State Park.
Watch this Video View of our Adventure
There are two campgrounds within St. Andrews State Park, Lagoon Campground, in which we stayed, and Pine Grove, which was closed for renovations during our stay. Because Pine Grove was not accessible during our stay, this write-up is based solely on what we saw at the Lagoon Campground.
Each site is equipped with electricity, water, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Campsites can accommodate anything from tents to RV’s up to 40 feet in length. There are no sewer hook-ups, but a dump station is conveniently located near the bathhouse.
The view of St. Andrews Bay from the Lagoon campground is spectacular, and it was so relaxing sitting at our site watching the boats go by. The view alone is a great reason to camp here but let me tell you about some of the other inviting features that this campground has.
- If you like boating during your camping stay then you will love this campground. The boat ramp and trailer parking area is conveniently located right at the entrance to the lagoon campground. Once you launch your boat into the waters of St. Andrews Bay, the pass to the Gulf of Mexico is just a moment away, allowing boaters to enjoy both bay and ocean boating.
- Fishing – Being surrounded by water, there are a good many fishing spots within the park, however, if your campsite is on the water side of the street, you can fish St. Andrews Bay, right from your own campsite. There is also a dock and a seawall where one can fish from at the boat ramp at the entrance to Lagoon Campground. Of course, right on the other side of the state park, about a mile away from the campground (if that) is the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrews State Park Fishing Pier.
- The Bathhouse/restroom – A clean well functioning restroom and shower is an important feature for me when camping. At the end of an active day, I want a nice hot shower and a private place to dress. I was happy to find that each shower stall had a private dry area for dressing. I know this does not sound like a big deal for some, but have you ever tried keeping your clothes dry while getting dressed when the floor is all wet?
- A well stocked campstore is conveniently located at the entrance to lagoon campground. At the campstore you can purchase ice and firewood or rent a bicycle.
- Golf cart rental is also available at the campstore. The walk to the beach or fishing pier is a bit far if you are carying a bunch of stuff so driving to the beach in a car or golf cart is more practical. If you are in a drivable RV and don’t want to tow your car to the campground to get around, you can always rent a golf cart. It looked like they had plenty for rent but I would call ahead to reserve one just in case. 850-708-6100.
- Pets are allowed however they must remain on a leash no longer than 6 foot.
- There is so much to do within the park, that you can easily have a full and active schedule every day of your camping adventure. Enjoy Swiming, kayaking, boating, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, walking, biking, wildlife viewing or just some plain old relaxing sun bathing on the soft white sand. For an additional charge, a boat excursion to Shell Island is also available. ( see Shell Island below for details).
- If you don’t feel like cooking, St. Andrews State Park is just minutes away from some awesome restaurants in Panama City Beach.
- There are Two grocery stores within minutes from the park. Winn Dixie and Publix grocery stores are both on Thomas Avenue, right across the street from each other. Both have a very nice deli stocked with prepared foods.
- John and I are not seasoned campers, so we loved how this park has the feel of being secluded but still near enough to the city that we could go out to eat or make a quick grocery store run.
Things to know to better your camping experience
I wouldn’t be doing the job I want to do with this website if I did not mention to you the few hiccups with our camping experience. If we had known these things beforehand, we would have been better prepared for our camping adventure.
- The Lagoon Campground has some campsites that are not very level. Probably not big enough of an issue for RV’ers but definitely a problem for tent campers. Our site was large, however, in order to set up on the most level spot on the site we needed more extension cord. Our tent ended up on a little bit of a slope.
- Which brings me to the extension cord. The electrical box and water hook up is set up on the side, between campsites and each site is pretty wide. We had a 50 foot extension cord, if we would have had 75 feet we would have been able to set up our tent in a more ideal spot on the site.
- Lots of sand to deal with so don’t forget a mat. Whether you are in an RV or Tent, you will want a good stiff mat to wipe the sand from your feet. Otherwise you will end up with a pile of sand inside your tent/RV. I forgot ours but luckily, John thougt to bring the hand vac. I spent a lot of time vacuuming out our tent.
- Our site did not have a grill instead it had a fire ring. We weren’t going to cook out anyway, but if we had planned to grill cook, we would not have been prepared.
- There is not a lot of shade covering the campsites. You will want to be sure to have an awning, umbrella or canopy to get out from under the sun’s blazing hot rays.
- Mosquitoes can be a big nusiance. We had a strong sea breeze every night except for our last night. The breeze mostly kept those pesky biting insects away but on that last night without the strong breeze, we just about got eaten alive. We had repellent but hadn’t applied it yet, and as soon as the sun started to go down, the mosquitoes had swarmed us and we found ourselves scrambling to spray ourselves down. In the few seconds it took us to apply the repellent those darn mosquitoes made a feast out of us. So remember to apply that insect repellent way before dusk.
- Even though we camped in the summer, because we had those strong sea breezes we had beautiful sleeping weather. However, it did get warm on the last night without the strong breeze. Be sure to have a couple of fans if you are tent camping. Oh, and by the way, on those nights we had the strong breezes, we actually got kind of cool.
- The park has not completly recovered from reccent hurricanes. Some of the roads have numerous potholes and dips. Be careful to mind the speed limit and watch out for those potholes.
- Always keep one eye to the weather. We had passing thunderstorms everyday of our visit and witnessed a couple of potentially dangerous lightning strikes.
Activities & Fun things to do at St. Andrews State Park
For me, the main attraction at St. Andrews State Park is the Gulf of Mexico. The water is crystal clear, and the surf here tends to be very active, making for an exciting swimming experience. The beach seems to be pretty popular with surfers as we saw quite a few of them out enjoying the wave action.
The sand on the beach is some of the softest sand I have been on in Florida, and the high sand dunes that run along the beach are like no other I have seen. People actually set up their chairs and umbrellas up on the dunes giving them a marvelous view of the beach below.
There is a calm lagoon area behind the beach concession near the jetty for those of you with little ones who may have difficulty swimming in the strong surf.
You can have wildlife encounters just about anywhere at St. Andrews State Park, but the best spot we found was Gator Lake. Gator Lake and The Gator Lake trail are located within the park between St. Andrews Bay and The Gulf of Mexico just before you get to the beach day-use area. Parking is available.
Kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving are all popular activities at St. Andrews. All the equipment needed for visitors to enjoy these activities can be rented from the beach concession located at the beach day-use area.
Not only is the fishing pier a great place to catch fish like Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, and Redfish, it is also a great place to catch a magnificent sunset. Remember, if you will be fishing at St. Andrews State Park, a Florida Fishing License is required.
Shell Island Excursion
Shell Island is a 7 mile long undeveloped stretch of white sugar sand beach, coastal scrubland, and pine hammocks. Colorful tropical fish, dolphins, and sea turtles are common in the waters around the island. On land, hiking the interior of Shell Island is an opportunity to explore rare coastal plants, bird, and wildlife communities. For those of you who enjoy a pristine beach without crowds and large buildings surrounding you, then you will find Shell Island to be a little piece of paradise.
The Island is a nature preserve, so there are no restrooms, shade, or food available on the island. One must carry all needed items such as chairs, an umbrella, sunscreen, water, snacks, etc. onto the ferry to take to the island. The boat ride to the island takes about 15 minutes. There is about a 1/4 mile walk from where the ferry drops you off on the island to the beach. The Shell Island Ferry books up quickly, and reservations are highly recommended. For your convenience, here is a link to St. Andrews State Park Shell Island reservations. Trips to Shell Island are limited to seasonal dates only, from March until Labor Day weekend.
The cost for the Shell Island Ferry is:
|$21.95||Adults Ages 13 – 64|
|$14.95||Children Ages 2-12|
|Free||Infants Ages under 2 years|
|$19.95||Seniors Age 65+|
Pontoon Boats are also available to rent at St. Andrews State Park. To reserve a Pontoon, click here to be re-directed to St. Andrews’s official site.
Location, Entrance Fee & Hours
St. Andrews State Park is located at 4607 State Park Lane in Panama City Beach, FL 32408. Hours are 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle/$12, one person with a boat/$16, 2 to 8 people with a boat. The price for camping is $28 per night, plus tax, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. Includes water and electricity. Senior discounts are available for campers who are Florida Residents.
For your convenience, here is a link to the Florida State Park Reservations Page to book a campsite.
Follow our Journey
We hope you enjoyed our detailed post about St. Andrews State Park and that we have answered any questions you might have about this wonderful Florida State Park. If we missed something or if you have any questions, please feel free to send us a comment, and we will get back to you with an answer just as soon as possible.
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