Island time

Have you ever rented a pontoon boat and cruised to a beautiful quaint island in he middle of nowhere? A place where the water is clear, the shells are endless, and the party never stops.

Whether you want to relax on a float with a beer in hand or build sand castles with your kids, there are countless things to do while enjoying a beautiful slice of paradise, right here in Panama City Beach, Florida.

“Often referred to by locals as “The Island”, Shell Island is a 7-mile undeveloped barrier island that has been a popular spot for locals and tourists for decades. If you’ve never visited, now’s the time to go.

Shell Island has two sides — the bay side (located in St. Andrews Bay) and the gulf side (located in The Gulf Of Mexico). And while both sides have their own charming appeal, I tend to favor the Bay side.

My personal account

This past Sunday was our first trip since the temperature change and boy did we have fun.

Our group was large, 25 or more adults and six children. Because our group was so grand, we ended up with two pontoons and even paid a little extra for the double decker with slides (If you have kids, I highly recommend it). My son couldn’t get enough of the slides and spent his entire day, going up the stairs and then sliding back down. We left the dock at 9 am and didn’t return until after five. Talk about a full day of salty air.

I brought my paddle board, my son brought his beach toys, my husband brought his beers, and we all took the day to relax and forget about our daily stresses, pressures, and pains. For one entire day, I told myself to, “just be.”

We spotted dolphins, we found dozens of hermit crabs, and even found a starfish. We made friends with people we didn’t know and we hugged the necks of those we did. I’ve been to The Island dozens of times and, every time I leave, I develop a new found appreciation for a place that never gets old.

Cost and times

Prices can vary depending on which company you choose but we tend to go with Lagoon Pontoons. Their staff is helpful, the location is easy to find, and their prices are affordable.

If you have a large group and a few kids on board, I highly recommend the double decker with slides. A full day is 9 hours while a half day is approximately 4.

Double decker/full day — $499

Double decker/half day — $299

If you have a smaller group and want to save a few bucks, the prices look even better.

Max 12 people/full day — $249

Max 12 people/half day — $199

You don’t need a boaters license to rent a boat, just a capable willing adult. After you’ve paid for your rental, you don’t need any money. Why? Because there is nothing to buy. There are also no bathrooms or buildings around, only a deck and the occasional ice cream boat.

It’s just you, your crew, your coolers, and your boat. And believe me when I say, “It’s worth every penny.”