Panama City

Panama City lies on St. Andrew Bay about half-way from Tallahassee to Pensacola. PC (as the locals call it) is more of a party town than nearby Destin and Port St. Joe. During Spring Break, the town is filled with college kids enjoying the beaches and nightlife. Panama City’s white sandy beaches have been called the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide plenty of exciting spots for fishing and diving.

Along with the natural reefs offshore there are several interesting historic shipwrecks, including the Empire Mica, a 465-foot British tanker sunk by a U-Boat during World War II; and the Tarpon, a twin-screw steamer that sank during a storm in 1929 and is now Florida’s Sixth Underwater Archaeological Preserve. An aggressive artificial reef program began in the 1970s. Since then, U.S. Naval ships and parts, bridge spans, tugs, barges, and airplanes have been sunk to form new marine habitats.

If you are seeking a quiet vacation, visit in the Fall when few college kids are in town. In addition to the great diving, PC also has world-class golf resorts and fine restaurants. And don’t forget to stop in the tiny Museum of Man in the Sea to check out the exhibits on the history of diving.