What's the best time to visit Panama City Beach?
The best time to visit Panama City Beach is in early summer, especially in May and June, when the weather is perfect for beach activities and water sports. While fall presents more budget-friendly opportunities, it’s also hurricane season. Winter, though less crowded, isn’t the best for swimming, as the water tends to be cooler.
Panama City Beach is one of Florida’s most popular beach destinations, and that’s saying something considering the state is known for its beautiful beaches. The town has miles and miles of pristine sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, tanning, and everything in between.
Fishermen and divers enjoy all the marine life that is on the reefs, and since it’s a quintessential tourist town, it has all the amenities you would want to round out your vacation plans, from souvenir shops to waterfront restaurants.
But before you go, you’ll need to know the best time to visit Panama City Beach in order to make the most of your trip; here’s our take.
Overall Best Time to Visit Panama City Beach
The overall best time to visit Panama City Beach is during the early summer (May-June) when the weather is the best for exploring the beach.
Since the main thing to do in Panama City Beach is, well, go to the beach, you want to make sure that you visit during a time when you can actually get the most out of the water.
The weather is warm and pleasant almost all year round, but there are some times when you’re going to have a better experience. The town begins to get quite warm by early May, and even people that don’t like swimming in cold water can already start heading into the water by then.
Average high temperatures are in the high 70s in May, then reach the high 80s by June and into the peak of summer. They stay in the high 70s well into October.
Early summer is also best in terms of rain. The weather is quite rainy and humid all year round in Panama City Beach, but late spring and early summer are the driest periods. May is actually the driest month in the year, with just 2.6 inches of rain on average.
The peak summer months are warmer, but also get a lot of rain, so you may get rained out of your planned beach vacation. Thanks to the great temperatures, you can enjoy plenty of activities on the Panama City Beach.
Popular activities include:
- Fishing charter rentals
- Organized boat tours
- Scuba diving tours
- Jet skiing
- Paddle boarding
You can rent equipment for all of these activities from businesses in town. Most businesses in this field tend to be seasonal, so you’ll have the most options in early summer which is the tourism peak.
During the peak season, you’ll also find that excursions such as the Shell Island Shuttle run more frequently. Late spring and early summer are also the best time to scuba dive in the Florida Panhandle on which Panama City Beach is located.
Forums often fill up with posts about the beautiful, clear visibility during this drier part of the year, as well as the many aquatic animals that you can see during this time.
The early summer is also when most of the town’s most famous events occur, such as the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam in June. The town organizes more events during the summer, from live concert series to fireworks shows.
Cheapest Time to Visit Panama City Beach
The absolute cheapest time to visit Panama City Beach is during the winter, but if you still want to go swimming, visit in the fall.
Since it’s a very seasonal town, there isn’t much demand since it is too chilly to go swimming. That means that if you just want to enjoy the coastline and walk along the beach, but don’t care about swimming, you can get some great deals on accommodation.
In January, you can usually get great deals on flights as well because airlines drop their prices for most destinations across the United States.
However, with so many sunny, warm days in Panama City Beach, you don’t have to sacrifice beach weather to save some money. Visit during the fall, and you can still enjoy beach weather as it stays warm well into October.
Most condos and hotels have “peak summer” pricing models, meaning that their accommodation is most expensive in July. By late August, prices go down, and you can get good accommodation at a fraction of the summer price by September and October.
Least Busy Time to Visit Panama City Beach
The least busy time to visit Panama City Beach is in the winter, although the crowds also empty out by the fall.
As mentioned above, winters are cooler in Panama City Beach than the rest of the year, so many visitors don’t come during this time due to the weather, and you can enjoy more space on the beach.
The fall is also not very popular with visitors, so you can have some beaches all to yourself. However, before booking your trip to Panama City Beach in the fall, you should know that this is peak hurricane season in Florida. The town has been hit hard by hurricanes before.
Even if a storm doesn’t hit directly, you could still face days of heavy rain that don’t exactly make it fun to spend time on the beach. You can still visit Panama City Beach safely during hurricane season.
Check the town website for tips on staying safe during this time. Look at the forecast ahead of time and cancel if you see there is a hurricane predicted. There are still plenty of sunny days in the fall, it’s just a matter of getting lucky.
Worst Time to Visit Panama City Beach
The worst time to visit Panama City Beach is the winter, due to the lack of beach-perfect weather, but those who hate crowds may say that spring is the worst time to visit.
The weather never gets fully cold in Panama City Beach, but it’s still too chilly to swim in the winter. Temperatures are usually in the low 60s.
Many local businesses close up shop for the season, and popular excursions such as trips to Shell Island get canceled. As long as you adjust your expectations, you can still have a good time in the winter.
Devoted anglers say that fishing in town is actually the best in late fall and winter, when it’s peak season for speckled trout. There is also a special charm to the town during the holidays when the Christmas lights go up. Spring is another bad time to visit Panama City Beach unless you’re a college student.
The town is a very popular spring break destination, and between mid-March and April it fills up with university students on break. Expect higher prices (and noise levels).
Panama City Beach by Month: Climate & Activities
Still unsure about the best time to visit Panama City Beach? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:
Kick off the year with January’s cooler but pleasant weather, temperatures hovering between 42 to 62°F (6 to 17°C). It’s a tranquil time for long beach walks, exploring the Pier Park for shopping and dining, and enjoying the quieter side of this vibrant beach town.
February continues with mild weather, perfect for visiting the Conservation Park with its walking and biking trails, enjoying peaceful beach days, and exploring the local art scene at the Panama City Center for the Arts.
March welcomes warmer days, with temperatures ranging from 49 to 68°F (9 to 20°C). It’s an ideal time for spring break fun, taking dolphin tours in the Gulf, and experiencing the lively atmosphere at beachfront bars and restaurants.
April brings delightful weather, temperatures between 56 to 76°F (13 to 24°C), inviting you to the soft sands for sunbathing, exploring St. Andrews State Park for its natural beauty, and enjoying the Seabreeze Jazz Festival.
May, warming up to 64 to 81°F (18 to 27°C), is perfect for water activities like jet skiing and parasailing, discovering the wonders at Gulf World Marine Park, and attending the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally.
With summer in full swing, June’s temperatures range from 72 to 86°F (22 to 30°C), ideal for family fun at Shipwreck Island Waterpark, snorkeling around Shell Island, and enjoying vibrant sunsets over the Gulf.
July’s heat, with temperatures from 74 to 88°F (23 to 31°C), is all about beach parties, fireworks over the pier, and exploring the underwater world through scuba diving or snorkeling adventures.
In August, with temperatures lingering between 74 to 88°F (23 to 31°C), enjoy leisurely cruises to spot dolphins, relax in the beachfront parks, and savor the fresh seafood at local eateries.
As fall begins, September offers a blend of summer warmth and autumn calm, with temperatures from 71 to 85°F (22 to 29°C). It’s a great time for fishing excursions, exploring the quieter beaches, and attending the Lobster Festival & Tournament.
October’s cooler days, ranging from 59 to 78°F (15 to 26°C), are perfect for the Panama City Beach Oktoberfest, golfing at the area’s premier courses, and enjoying outdoor concerts as the humidity drops.
November, cooler with temperatures from 49 to 70°F (9 to 21°C), is ideal for hiking in Camp Helen State Park, experiencing the Panama City Beach Marathon, and enjoying the calm before the holiday season.
December brings cooler weather, from 40 to 63°F (4 to 17°C), along with festive holiday cheer. Enjoy the Beach Home for the Holidays event, relaxed shopping for unique gifts, and peaceful strolls along the less crowded beaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions people have asked about finding the best time to visit Panama City Beach:
When is the best month to go to Panama City Beach Florida?
The best month to go to Panama City Beach in Florida is May or June. The weather is pleasant and there is a low risk of rain, and you get to beat the worst of the high season crowds and prices.
What months can you swim in Panama City Beach?
You can swim in Panama City Beach from mid-March and sometimes into mid-November. The water temperature is warm almost all year round.
What month is hurricane season in Panama City Beach?
The full hurricane season lasts from June to November, but it peaks around late August, September, and early October.
Is Panama City Beach water warm?
Yes, the water off the coast of Panama City Beach is warm. In the summer, it can reach over 80 degrees!
Is it safe to swim in the ocean in Panama City Beach?
The ocean is mostly safe around Panama City Beach. However, there can be dangers such as riptides and red tide blooms, so obey all posted warning flags, signs, and lifeguard warnings.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Panama City Beach?
Panama City Beach is a great beach destination that is at its most beautiful in the late spring and early summer, before the crowds (and the rains) of the peak season set in.
If you want to save some money and don’t mind canceling your trip if a hurricane alert is issued, then late summer and early fall are the best times to go. Winter is the least expensive, but also the water is not quite warm enough for swimming.
So, with so many amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Panama City Beach has to offer. Happy travels!