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Florida Coastal Access Guide - Bay County at a Glance Quicklinks

Bay at a Glance

Coastal Cities
Callaway, Lynn Haven, Mexico Beach, Panama City, Panama City Beach, Parker, Springfield
Popular Spot Panama City Beach
Sandy Beaches 27 miles
Public Accesses 144
Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail 6 sites
State Parks & Lands Acres
Camp Helen State Park 182
St. Andrews State Park/Shell Island 1,171
St. Andrews State Aquatic Preserve 25,000
Pine Log State Forest (Washington) 7,003
Federal Lands Acres
Tyndall Air Force Base (Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton) 28,000
Bays & Inlets
East, North, West & St. Andrew bays, St. Andrews Sound, Wild Goose Lagoon, Watson Bayou, Deer Point Lake
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Apalachicola River, Chipola River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Holmes Creek, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

Bay County attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year to its 27 miles of sandy-white beaches on crystal-blue gulf waters hiding sunken shipwreck treasures and large pods of dolphins and temperate climate.

Named for the abundance of bays and bayous covering 25% of the land, almost half of this coast, including the 9-mile inlet of Crooked Island, is undeveloped, bordered by Tyndall Air Force Base.

Most of Bay's cities cluster along the coast from quaint, old-Florida Mexico Beach on its eastern boundary west past St. Andrews State Park to the more busy life of Panama City Beach with highrises, nightlife and water parks.

Panama City's historic commercial center, St. Andrews Waterfront Community, was revitalized and renovated to maintain its small village atmosphere with grants from the Florida Coastal Management Program.

St. Andrews State Park, the state's largest park, boasts 4.6 miles of undeveloped coast, and acres of unspoiled beaches, dunes, pine woods and marshes. Its amenities include: 176 camp sites overlooking Grand Lagoon, two fishing piers, a jetty, a boat ramp and two nature trails.

The more adventurous can take a boat off of Alligator Point to the seven-mile barrier island, Shell Island, surrounded by rock jetties, sea grass beds, semi-tropical fish, such as angel and parrot fish, and the clear waters of St. Andrews Aquatic Preserve. The preserve is one of the most diverse and fragile estuaries in North America, covering 25,000-acres that spread over three miles out into the gulf. It encompasses the entrance to 69,000-acre St. Andrews Bay, the largest body of water and expanse of seagrass in West Florida. Over 2,100 marine species, among them horseshoe crab, blue crab, stone crab, ghost crab, horse conk, sand dollar, and starfish inhabit the bay. No major river flows into St. Andrews Bay.

Camp Helen State Park looks over 650-acre Powell Lake, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the state. It is the site of a 1930s-era lodge and cottages and 4,000-year-old prehistoric mounds.

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Last updated: February 15, 2012


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