St. Andrews Jetties, Panama Beach
1,260-acre coastal park; 110ft, 40ft viz, 60-80DegF; for more information, call St. Andrews State Park at (850) 233-5140
Park Fees: Admission Fee--$5.00 per vehicle; $1.00 for the following: Pedestrians, Bicyclists, extra Passengers, Passengers in vehicles with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Permit
Facilities: Picnic pavilions, bath-house, restrooms, beach chair rentals (in season), Park store with limited lunch food items for sale plus drinks, snacks and souvenirs. Beach on tidal pool with no waves and beach on main beach area where waves are located. Boat shuttle (fee charged) available to Shell Island (sand island) across channel from park. No facilities on Shell Island.
Dive Shop Concession on site: Jetty Dive Shop 850-233-0197 On site air fills when compressor is working. Some rental tanks, but limited availability. Nitrox usually not available.
Closest offsite Dive Shop: PC Dive Center at the corner of Front Beach Rd and Thomas Drive just outside the park at the first redlight.
Dive Rules: Follow Florida State dive laws. Dive flag required for diving anywhere outside the jetty tidal pool.
Best time to dive: At "high slack tide" Check local tide tables for time.
Dive Conditions: strong currents can exist due to incoming/outgoing tide. Best time for lowest current and best visibility is at high slack tide. Depths to 65 feet in main channel. Beware of boat traffic above and use a dive flag as required by law. Fishermen sometimes fish on jetty rocks, so beware of line entanglement or being hooked. Best to carry a cutting tool just in case.
Accommodations: Camping available at park or hotels/condos available outside park.
Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM to sunset
Driving Directions: From Hwy 98 turn South on to Hwy 3031 (Thomas Drive) and follow it straight to Hwy 392 and turn left to enter into the gates of St. Andrews State Park. St. Andrews State Park is located approximately 3 miles east of Hwy 392.
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04/23/2013 Todd Yarbrough (Avg: 4.11 Review) - As a long time diver at St Andrews, I have found the conditions there to be great for divers of all skill levels. There is a 20 foot deep shelf along the north end that tapers down to around 80 feet as you head out into the gulf. This has been one of my favorite dive sites since I was first certified in 1998, and I have logged hundreds of hours underwater here. I would suggest it to anyone for the ease of entry, diversity of life and potential for adventure that exists just below the surface.
10/23/2012 Troy Ochowicz (Avg: 3.71 Review) - Great time snorkeling! Saw a large Octopus and a Manta Ray. One of the easiest snorkeling places for kids. You need to tow a dive flag for the channel side (and only go during slack tide) but the kiddy pool and the beach side of jetty on the ocean is ok without one.
06/27/2011 Mark W. (Avg: 3.92 Review) - My son and I are new divers and have done the jetties twice. First dive 6-4-11 had good visibility of 25'. Second dive, 6-20-11 had visibility of about 15' with lots of algae in the water. However, both dives were great and on second dive got to try out my new video/photo camera. Lots of marine life and lots of fun. Here's link to video and photos of our last dive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VovEoeAy-TI
04/13/2010 Todd Yarbrough (Avg: 3.92 Review) - Well, I reported on here a while back about the jetties, and I would have to say I still love them. I am now teaching SCUBA in Panama City Beach, and have a chance to dive the jetties several times a week. This is still one of the best shore dives anywhere. I love to drift along the jetties and watch the animals out there. To date, I have seen everything from blennies to eagle rays to manatees hanging out on those rocks. If you are a diver and are in the area, dive them, as long as the conditions are right, you will not find a better dive site.
08/18/2009 Thomas Oliver (Avg: 2.82 Review) - I did this dive last Saturday (8-15-2009) and the current was very strong, so me and my dive buddy stayed inside the pool. When we did get outside of the pool it felt like a drift dive in Cozumel. We would have done it but the viz was only about 15 feet and the boat traffic was very bad so we decided it would be better to stay in the pool. I would like to go back soon. We planned it bad and didn't hit high tide. The marine life was good early but as it got crowded it slacked a little. Also, more fishermen came and would make it hard to dive outside the jetties.
01/25/2009 Pitch (Avg: 3.58 Review) - Took the family to PCB for vacation so we could dive the jetties. We had a fantastic time. St. Andrew's is a great place for the family. I swam and snorkeled with my 5 yr. old daughter (lots to see in the kiddie pool all by itself) while my wife and 14 yr old son dove. When they got back they swam while I dove. We made a complete day of St. Andrews almost everyday. However, do not be fooled by claims that the park store has an air station. They quit doing this a couple of years ago. Now you can only rent snorkel equipment. There are several shops in the area where you can rent a tank for under $10 just outside or near the park. The walk to the dive site is a bit cumbersome with all your gear. But it is worth it. We went in mid July and dove on the channel side just across the rocks from the kiddie pool. The sealife was abundant. We saw grouper, queens angels, crabs, sheepshead, sea cucumbers and more that I cannot identify. Jellyfish were also abundant and after 6 days in the water the entire family had felt the effects at least once. The highlight for me was on my last dive. I had a manatee swim up to me and hang out with me for a few minutes. This was unbelievable. Visibility was very good at slack tide; around 40'. However, started to fade when the tide started to go out. The current also started to ramp up at this time as well; pulling out into the gulf. There are lots of other divers there about an hour before high tide so it is easy to find a buddy if you want one and they were all very nice. Be careful of the fishermen's lines. There are quite a few people on the rocks fishing out into the channel. Be sure to carry a knife to cut yourself out of old fishing line in the rare event you might get tangled in it. I have heard many stories of rude fishermen who did not like the divers. We had no issues whatsoever. If you are looking for an inexpensive place to dive ($5 per car to get into the park) this is the place to go. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. I also hear that Shell Island just across the channel is a great place to dive. However, it requires a ferry ride to get there. We will return to the jetties this summer to do some night dives and hopefully see some octopi.
05/25/2007 Joseph (Avg: 3.81 Review) - My wife and I dove the jetties again for the first time this year. The visibility was about 40' and that was due to the choppy seas and the crazy cross breezes. Water was in the mid 70's. I wore a shorty and was fine; wife is 115lbs and wore a 5mm and was fine. Current was pushing a little hard for her; and I thought it was a Minnie drift dive. We went between noon and 3PM, and after that the current starts pulling out to the open water. Marine life was abundant and there was one of the largest grouper that I have ever seen (in that close to shore) probably 300lbs and very friendly. Saw an array of fish, and enjoyed most of the dive. We will be here until Memorial Day and if anyone needs a dive buddy we will be right next to the store (my wife has the bright PINK BC and fins).
05/21/2007 Joseph (Avg: 3.20 Review) - My wife and I dive the jetties at least once a year. We enter at the kiddy pool and go through the rock entrance and into the channel. We go every year and do our refresher dive in a live environment. This is an excellent place to learn your ABC's of scuba and refresh. The state park is nice, clean, and safe. It is not the Caribbean but it is nice if you do not want to pay $80.00 for a charter. The water temperature is in the 70's during May and warm every day after that. Bring some sandwiches and have a picnic on the beach. Bring the kids and they can play in the water with no worries of under tow. There is plenty of marine life, and the only draw back is the people who fish on the rocks. They can be rude at times. We will be there again this weekend for Memorial Day. I am a Dive Master and think this is an excellent place to do training and enjoy a day of diving.
04/29/2007 Pete Lampros (Avg: 3.99 Review) - Not for the timid or novice. The current at high or low tide is a veritable roller coaster ride. The vis was phenomenal, with the worst vis being about 40 ft. Animal life was abundant and varied. Max depth was about 75 ft.
09/13/2006 Dennis (Avg: 3.73 Review) - I've made this dive several times. It's a long hike from the parking and showers to the water. Most folks dive on the channel side, entering and exiting from the "kiddy pool". I way prefer to dive at slack tide and enter on the Gulf/surf side and swim the whole jetty out to the end, then back on the channel side, exiting through the kiddy pool. The largest flounder I've ever seen live on the surf side of the jetty about a third of the way out; some real door mats! Too bad spearing is illegal in the state park. I've seen ling on the outside, as well as a variety of jacks. Mangrove snappers are everywhere and groupers anywhere close to deep water. Dive on the channel side and descend the barren-looking slope to 60 feet for lots of sand dollars. You can't always rely on the Tide Tables at this site, but learn to use them as they are what counts when diving. This is a great dive, but be prepared to deal with current at the end of the rocks regardless of the state of the tide. Beware that there is sometimes a current running down the coast.
04/16/2005 Todd Yarbrough (Avg: 3.64 Review) - I've made this dive several times over the past few years and have found it very relaxing. Climbing over the rocks in full scuba would be a foolish venture, but easy access lies only feet away. I really enjoy night dives on the beach side, just out along the rocks and back. The area really comes alive when the sun goes down. It is still a bit chilly, but no problem with a wetsuit. I'm planning on getting out to the jetties more frequently for some dives, and would love the opportunity to dive with some new people. Try52 (at)hotmail (dot) com
06/22/2004 Mark Freeze (Avg: 3.09 Review) - We dove this site on a high slack tide and swam/drifted all the way to the ocean end of the of the jetties, made the turn around the rocks and came up on the beach side. Very cool dive but a long walk out with gear. Saw adult sheep head and Spanish mackerel, some large queen angels, grouper, and lots of micro stuff. The school of bluefish I've ever seen passed us going out to sea. Some have said that you can also dive this same profile backwards on a low slack tide, but I'd bet it would be a lot harder and only for the really advanced. Beginners should stick to the area right at the swim-over because these currents can get nasty, but a great shore dive site anyway!
05/28/2004 Charlotte (Avg: 4.11 Review) - I did training here and was very happy with the site. Easy shore access. I would recommend using a wagon or sled to pull your gear to the water line. It seems like a long walk wearing and toting weights, tanks, flag float, etc. Don't underestimate the water temp, we dove at the end of December and again during spring break. In Dec the temp was about 59. Spring it was about 70. Great for night dives and training!
03/15/2004 Doug Terry (Avg: 3.41 Review) - This can be a great dive or not so great depending on currents and tides. With an slack high tide I've seen 40 feet of viz and good variety of fish and shell fish. Low tide or tide going out viz is poor and currents can be strong during tide changes. The shore entry is easy but getting across to the channel side can be tricky. The safest bet is to swim down where you can swim across rather than try to climb over the rocks but you can get beat up and speared by sea urchins if you are not really careful where and how you cross.
01/11/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 3.46 Review) - Not really the jetties, but the rocks inside the state park to make the "kiddy pool". I snorkeled it last summer not realizing that would have been the perfect opportunity to scuba alone. Very shallow, many families up on the beach, lots of people in the water, but not so many near the rocks because the depth is over your head. Very snorkelable, but would have been even better on scuba. Lots of sergeant majors, some grouper, one a really good size. Lots of mullet, some plant life, some sponge life. Pretty decent get-a-way if you are on a 4 day vacation with your in-laws! The stone crabs were releasing their eggs when I was there, Fathers' Day weekend 2003. That was really neat. Must research if they do that in accordance to lunar phases like coral. Hmmm...Definitely going back Fathers' Day weekend 2004! Shore entry very easy...no waves! Bottom condition, it's not the Bahamas, but there are some cool things to look at. Facilities...the restrooms were a bit of a hike away from where you enter the water, but there are fresh water showers closer to the water. I would do a night dive here, but not alone, because I am chicken! Those more advanced and/or experienced in different sites may be bored with this site. Visibility was about 15 or so feet when I was there, but I could see that conditions here could probably go downhill very quickly with an afternoon thunderstorm or tide change. The current gets really bad if you attempt to go through the opening in the rocks to go to the other side. I tried on snorkel but chickened out. ;) Yes, I am a girl and I was alone! :)
05/15/2003 Dee Co (Avg: 3.35 Review) - A good 60' dive along the channel side rocks. Visibility can be excellent to o.k. Good amount of sea life at the right water temp and tide. Nice family spot.
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Number of reviews for this site: 16