Swim In The Jetties!
St. Andrews State Park has been open to the public since 1951. The park offers some of the best resources for Educational/Historical research. From its state of the art Environmental Interpretative Center, History of the Guns of St. Andrews, to a Replica Old Cracker Turpentine Still on the park. This park offers tours of any of these amenities upon request.
The History of the Guns of St. Andrews; was a major part of the St. Andrews Sound Military Reservation. In 1942 the War Department selected the site overlooking the new pass for a temporary Harbor Defense installation and directed the emplacement of two155 mm guns to be built among the dunes just west of the jetties. To this day one of the original gun mounts is now shaded by a pavilion to protect it from the elements. It is also, one of the most popular sites on the park for weddings.
Named by Dr. Beach (Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman) as America’s Best Beach in 1995, St. Andrews is well known for its sugar white sand and crystal-clear emerald green water. This 1,260-acre park is located on a peninsula with over 1.5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon.
Natural communities in the park include dunes, marshes, scrub, and pine flatwoods. Each community is home to plants and animals that adapt to the conditions they inhabit. The park’s uplands are characterized by rolling white sand dunes separated by low swales of either pine flatwoods or marshes. The dunes and beach are formed of quartz sand originally derived from the Appalachian Mountains. As the mountains eroded over millions of years, rivers and streams carried the sand southward. Long shore currents then deposited the sand on the beach and barrier islands. Dunes closest to the coast are commonly covered with sea oats. Dunes found farther inland are covered with sand pine, scrub oaks, rosemary, and other hardy plants and play an important role in preventing erosion during intense storms.
Salt marshes are found in areas with light wave action and tides. They are made up of short plants including grasses. Salt marshes transfer nutrients from land to sea and back as fresh water and tides move across them.
Freshwater marshes are similar to salt marshes at first glance; however, freshwater are not effected by tides. As a result the plant and animal life in freshwater marshes differ from that in salt marshes.
St. Andrews State Park also has a 700-acre parcel located on Shell Island. Visitors may wish to sun or walk along the shores of this pristine barrier island. Shuttles run across the channel from the mainland to Shell Island in the spring and summer. Tickets are available at the park concession. For the most part the island remains totally undeveloped.
Swimming is a favorite activity in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico where wave action adds to the excitement. Swimming in the shallow, protected pool behind the jetty is relaxing, while snorkeling is an adventure in either swimming area. The extensive shoreline and rock jetties offer excellent opportunities to study marine life.
Fishing opportunities include two piers, jetty, and surf fishing. Catches include Spanish mackerel, redfish, flounder, sea trout, bonito, mahi mahi, and bluefish. A boat ramp is located on Grand Lagoon near the fishing pier and offers the closest access to the Gulf of Mexico.
The concession stores offer snacks, souvenirs, kayak rentals, fishing licenses, and limited grocery items for campground guests.
There are 176 campsites available for rental by calling Reserve America at 1800-326-3521 or by going on line at www.ReserveAmerica.com. Each of the sites offers electricity, water, picnic tables, and ground grills. The sites will accommodate camping ranging from tents to rigs up to 40 feet. The park also has a primitive area for camping for non-profit and organized youth groups. Certain fees and restrictions apply.
Picnic facilities are found in several locations in the park with the main picnic area near the fishing pier on Gran Lagoon. The park also has a total of eight pavilions that are all first come first serve.
St. Andrews in Panama City Beach truly offers something for everyone from running, walking, riding bicycles, fishing, swimming, camping, bird watching to just sitting back and taking it easy. It isn’t hard to find something to entertain or enjoy at this beautiful hidden treasure.
For More Information Visit http://www.floridastateparks.org/standrews/
St. Andrews State Park
4607 State Park Lane
Panama City Beach, Florida 32408