Our trips go to different shipwrecks and artificial reefs like bridge spans. Most operators classify sites as inshore or offshore. In the Dive charter mindset of PCB this is really just a measure of how far the site is from the pass not from the shoreline. Since big dive boats typically get about 1mpg operators needed a way to classify sites to charge more for trips that burned more fuel and time. Consequently you could be charged for an offshore trip to dive a reef ledge and span 5 and only be 4 miles from shore but 11 miles from the pass. Generally speaking “Inshore trips” are suitable for basic Openwater divers while “Offshore trips” require Advanced Certification.
Additionally, even though some sites are in the same bracket they aren’t particularly close to one another. Given fuel prices today most charters Captains are under orders to keep all the running around to a minimum. Below is a general association of the different popular sites based on proximity to the pass and each other.
We Maintain a copy of Public Dive Sites ready for Download to a Garmin GPS at the shop.
Normal inshore trips are to the Black Bart and Span 14 or the Strength, Red Sea or one of the Spans (1, 2, 12) in their vicinity.
Long Beach Barge
The Black Bart (below)
Bridge Span 14
Warsaw Hole (limestone reef)
Dan Safety Barge
Navy Trash Pile
Bridge Span 12
USS Strength (below)
Bridge Span 1
Bridge Span 5 (Original Hathaway Bridge)
Bridge Span 6
Bridge Spans 7-10
Grey Ghost (considered an extended offshore trip)
Bridge Span 3
Bridge Span 13
3 to 5s Reef 120-160fsw
Birmingham Queen 150fsw
USCG Zennia 220fsw
USS Ozark 330fsw
There are several spots that a diver can walk into from land in the Panama City area, primarily area Springs. Florida’s geology as gifted several parts of the state with numerous freshwater springs where gin clear water comes from limestone caverns and joins local streams and rivers. While some of the springs are in private hands and not readily accessible to divers several are. The two most popular are Vortex springs (private) and Morrison Springs (park).
These springs are perfect places for divers to take open water classes in pool like conditions and bone up on dive skills if they have been out of the water awhile. Depths are very shallow around the spring but slowly run deeper as you approach the mouth of the caverns. There are also wooden platforms at the springs which make them great for class practice sessions. Obviously only trained cavern and cave divers should attempt to dive inside the caverns and deeper into the caves. There are quite a few other Springs in the area for the more intrepid diver where arrowheads and spearpoints and pottery are commonly found. Econfina, Cypress, Pitt and Gainer springs just to name a few.
There is also on shore dive available to check out the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. The Saint Andrews State Park in the East end of Panama City’s Beaches has a long set of rock jetties. The jetties are best dove on a peak high tide as the incoming Gulf water is clearer than the Bay Water and the time between rising and falling tides is key due to possible strong currents from the incoming/outgoing water. Many species of snapper, grouper (including goliath), spade fish, angel fish, flounder, red fish and baitfish are commonly seen. Depths are less than 10′ on the kiddie pool side and slope as deep as 60′ once you cross over the rocks. Dive flags are the law and for your own safety as many boaters travel through the pass. There is also a convenience store in the park. It used to offer basic dive services but no longer does so come prepared!