Experience the wild side of Panama City Beach in the relative comfort of an airboat on one of these thrilling guided tours.
Behind the white sands of Panama City Beach lies West Bay and a feature familiar to Florida: swampland. And when there’s swampland, you can guarantee an abundance of wonderful, beguiling, and occasionally unnerving wildlife. Airboat rides are one of the best ways to explore these inhospitable climes, gliding over the water with ease and a fair amount of noise. Here are three fun ways to explore the water around Panama City Beach, taking many factors into account, including value for money, wildlife spotting opportunities and, of course, chances of returning safely to your hotel at the end of the trip.
Panama City Beach Airboat Ride
Combine the thrill of gliding over the West Bay swampland with spotting amazing wildlife on this fun 45-minute ride in an airboat. You’ll head into secluded pockets of the wetlands, along narrow canals and over the calm, open water. All the while, your guide’s experienced eye will be scanning the wilds for native inhabitants. You’ll might have the chance to get up close to alligators, turtles and large water birds, such as egrets and herons. This tour is available most days of the year, with departures on the hour between 10am and 6pm. From $35 per person.
Private Airboat Ride in Panama City
If you’re traveling to Panama City Beach as part of a group and would like a more personalized airboat experience, this private tour is a great option. Operated by Panama City Adventures, the same company as the above tour, you can choose to learn about ecology and wildlife, and explore the wetlands at your own pace. Please note that the listed fee is based on two people taking part. The larger your group, up to a maximum of six people, the cheaper the price becomes per person. For example, if your group is six people, the price drops as low as $42 per person. From $125 per person.
Scream Machine Dolphin Watching Cruise
Some people prefer salt water to the brackish bayous, and there is a fun boat tour that still combines the rush of speed with wildlife spotting on Choctawhatchee Bay. Although not technically an airboat, the Scream Machine, in garish lime green, explores the bay for 90 minutes. You’ll be joined on board by Greta the dog as you head out at sunset. There will be a chance to spot dolphins along the way, as well as the many marine birds common to the area, such as herons. This tour runs daily and is quite popular so booking ahead, where possible, is advised. From $60 per person.