In his ideal world, Mr. TWS would live on a beach with year-round opportunities to jump in the water every morning, afternoon and evening. I admit that sounds pretty good to me, too. However, I would more often be watching from my cabana while sipping a refreshing beverage after a walk or jog on the water’s edge. We live just 15 minutes from beautiful beaches at Half Moon Bay on the Northern California coast and they’re great for taking walks and watching surfers brave the waves, but they’re not so great for taking a swim. Those surfers are wearing wetsuits and the waves can get dangerously high! So we sometimes look for idyllic, balmy beach getaways and we’re currently setting our sites on an area that we haven’t experienced before – Florida’s Gulf Coast, particularly Panama City Beach.
Visit Panama City Beach has a fun Bucket List program where visitors choose activities in which they want to engage. When they check them off, they receive fun prizes like beach towels and T-shirts. I hope I’ll get a chance to visit and check off some Panama City Beach Bucket List items sometime, too.
Here’s how I envision spending a perfect vacation there.
Fun in the sun
Mr. TWS and I like a nice mix of activities, and it looks like Panama City Beach has plenty of recreational things to do. Of course, we would want to stay in the water as much as possible — swimming, snorkeling, and admiring the dolphins and other sea life that we’re likely to see close to the beach and especially further out in the water. Those activities can also be enjoyed while spending a day at Shell Island, aptly named for the vast amounts of seashells found there.
Although you can take a ferry from Panama City Beach to Shell Island to explore the seven miles of its white sand dunes, I’d like to rent a pontoon for a leisurely ride to the island. Either way would be fun. I can picture having a picnic lunch there while basking in the sun with my feet resting on the warm, sugary white sand.
I think I’ll also get Mr. TWS to try stand up paddleboarding, something I tried for the first time this year — my technique wasn’t pretty, but I liked it! I’ve heard that we might even find ourselves directly over an old shipwreck as we paddle about in the area’s calm waters.
One of my favorite forms of outdoor recreational activities is bicycling and Panama City Beach looks like a perfect place for it at Conservation Park (where there are over 20 miles of trails), St. Andrews Park, or just around town. It surprises me that there are wooded areas like those at Conservation Park in a Gulf Coast beach area.
Indulge in fresh seafood
There isn’t a shortage of opportunities to get a fresh taste of Gulf seafood along the beach and in town. Mr. TWS is crazy about seafood — all kinds, cooked or raw. I’m much more conservative, but have recently been broadening my horizons. Since Panama City Beach has been touted as a “Seafood Capital of the World”, there will be plenty for each of us to enjoy. A real treat, as it always is for me, will be dining al fresco beneath the palms while sipping a glass of wine. Maybe in this setting a better fit might be a tropical cocktail, but hold the umbrella. And if our timing was right, it would be ideal to catch the Panama City Beach Seafood & Music Festival on October 17 and 18, 2014.
Here’s a taste of a few dishes at the popular Boar’s Head and Firefly restaurants that I’d love to try. I’ve also heard that the shrimp tacos at Finns Island Style Grub are pretty awesome.
Try something new
This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m adding fishing to my Panama City Beach Bucket List. For me, it’s fun to try something different in a new place. It doesn’t have to be anything adventurous or dangerous — just something I haven’t done before. So let’s picture Mr. TWS and me on one of Panama City Beach’s fishing piers. I throw out the line, something takes the bait, and the fun ensues. It could be any one of these local catches — amberjack, bluefish, cobia, flounder, grouper, king and Spanish mackerel, mahi mahi, marlin, pompano, redfish, red snapper, trout, wahoo, sailfish and yellowfin tuna. I had to look up a few of those varieties since I’d never heard of some like “wahoo” and “cobia” before. Have you?
Relax and Romance
I think that it’s also important in a beautiful seaside destination like this to relax, rejuvenate, and relish the balmy weather. And let’s not forget romance. With our wedding anniversary coming up soon, it seems especially appropriate. I can picture sitting on the patio of our rental cottage facing the Gulf of Mexico to view a breathtaking sunset with Mr. TWS followed by a barefoot stroll along the beach in the quiet of the night. Isn’t that romantic?
I think we would have a great time in Panama City Beach. In fact, I have a feeling I wouldn’t want to leave. Mr. TWS just might end up with his house on the beach sooner than expected.
What are your favorite activities in a beach destination?
Photos courtesy of Visit Panama City Beach.