Jun 22

St. Andrews Park Jetty dive report

Category: scuba

St. Andrews Park is a state park planted on the west side of the narrow mouth of St. Andrew’s bay in Panama City, Florida. The dive site is at a beach protected by a crescent-shaped jetty of boulders that reduce sand erosion. The jetty creates a shallow bowl of beautiful, warm water. A low spot guarded by a floating barrier (visible in the picture) creates a perfect spot for divers to swim over the jetty in order to get to the good places. The shore facilities are ideal, with several roofed picnic pavilions and even a convenience store. Large crowds can be found here, specially on weekends. Most divers staggered their entry in order avoid crowding on the bottom.

The channel side of the jetty forms a wall a couple hundred yards long with depths ranging from 10 to 60 feet. The jumbled rocks are a perfect natural reef with tons of hiding places for the animals. Although there is plenty to see even if just snorkeling on the beach side, the real action is on the channel side.

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Local law mandates the use of diver flags, so if you come here, make sure you have a floating “diver down” flag and plenty of line. The bottom temperature was 79 degrees, and the best time to dive is an hour or two before high tide, when the water coming in from the ocean creates better visibility, and the slackening current makes for easy swimming. You can certainly dive during the ebb, as I did during my second dive, but the visibility and current will make the dive much less fun. On the first dive, visibility was about 20 feet, but on the second, it was often less than 10.

I was in Panama City on business, and didn’t have a dive buddy, so I rented what needed and just showed up, hoping to find an insta-buddy. I ended up running into the aqua-nuts dive club, who were the nicest bunch of folks! Not only did they provide a dive buddy (Mike) but they even gave me lunch. Mike went above and beyond the call of duty, being patient enough to wait for me – a total stranger – while I got my gear together. He even waited for me to drive to the dive shop to grab a second tank from Diver’s Den, right up the road from the park (round trip: 25 minutes). Now that’s hospitality. Thanks to Mike, and to all of the gracious people in the club!

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1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Suzanne June 27th, 2008 3:23 PM

    Great pictures, Dan. My 5-year-old nephew really liked the little scuba lesson I gave him using your pics. He especially liked the spider crab pic and says that the spider crab can probably catch a shark.

    I look forward to seeing the pictures from Thursday night’s dive!

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