*Note: Like many local beaches, Crooked Island was adversely impacted by Hurricane Michael. The beach’s access road remains washed out, so you’ll likely be forced to hike in (it’s a fairly tough hike through sand). Don’t let this deter you — even with the extensive damage, the beach is definitely worth a visit.*
Crooked Island may take some time to access, but you won’t regret the effort. The property is part of Tyndall Air Force Base and requires a recreational passport for access. The typical cost is $11 per person.
Located approximately one hour from the heart of Panama City Beach, Crooked Island rarely feels crowded, even during the peak of tourist season. This remarkable beach offers the ultimate secluded experience, free from the usual hustle and bustle of the area’s busier attractions. You’ll find the white sand you’d expect of any beach in this area, but without the noise you may have come to anticipate from the Emerald Coast’s most popular beaches.
There’s a lot to love about Crooked Island, but regulars return again and again for the shells. If you’re intent on looking for shells, be sure to visit early in the morning, when you’ll find the best selection. Sand dollars, in particular, are worth scouting, as many visitors have reported finding nearly a dozen intact during a single visit — a virtually impossible achievement at busier beaches. Unfortunately, you may also come across strewn trash; as no trash cans are provided along the beach, careless visitors occasionally leave behind cigarette butts or candy wrappers. A dumpster is provided in the parking lot, however, so you can do your part to keep the beach pristine.
In addition to a dumpster, you’ll find a portable toilet near the parking lot. Otherwise, public facilities are decidedly lacking at this location. If you’re hoping to spend your afternoon soaking in the sun, you’ll want to arrive equipped with towels, umbrellas, chairs, or any other accessories you desire. Change into your swimsuit well in advance and consider bringing extra sets of clothing and shoes. Be sure to also bring snacks and plenty of drinking water, as you won’t find either available at or even near this location.
As you can guess based on the secluded status of this beach, no lifeguards are on duty. While Crooked Island shares the usual risk of undertow and riptides present at any secluded stretch of shoreline, the current is often calm enough to allow visitors of all ages and ability levels to wade or swim as they see fit.
In addition to swimming and searching for shells, many Crooked Island visitors enjoy fishing. Be sure to secure your Florida fishing license before you arrive. Visit at the right time, and you could score some impressive catches. Visitors have reported catching flounder, Spanish mackerel, and pompano.
Whether your idea of the perfect beach visit includes fishing, shell collecting, or napping under an umbrella, you can find the peace and quiet you desire at Crooked Island. If you’re willing to give up a few frills, you will enjoy a shoreline experience like no other in the Panama City Beach area.
-Previously, Crooked Island Beach was open to the public. Now, however, a permit is required. This may seem like a slight annoyance, but if anything, this small restriction grants the beach an even more peaceful and secluded feel.
-If you have an active military ID, bring it with when you visit Crooked Island. This will allow you to avoid the permit process.