Man in the Sea Museum

Man in the Sea Museum: Panama City Beach’s Hidden Treasure
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Man in the Sea Museum is located in Panama City Beach right off the Panama City Beach Parkway. Packed with exciting exhibits that highlight the progression of underwater technology, the small museum offers historical objects, artifacts, and enough hands-on exhibits to keep the entire family intrigued for a couple of hours. Run by volunteers and reasonably priced, it’s a hidden treasure in the area that offers educational entertainment to both locals and visitors. 

- The Local Expert Team

Located in Panama City Beach, the Man in the Sea Museum showcases the progression of underwater technology, beginning in the earliest diving days and through today’s modern underwater technology. The Institute of Diving, an educational, non-profit organization formed back in 1977, owns the museum. A group of divers who were a part of the U.S. Navy’s SEALAB program, along with representatives from scientific, sport diving, commercial, and medical fields, came up with the idea to create the museum. 

Found in 1982, Man in the Sea Museum is a tiny museum that’s a bit of a hidden treasure within the Panama City Beach area, but the 5,000 square foot museum offers many comprehensive collections that both kids and adults will enjoy. Located right off Panama City Beach Parkway, enter the museum, and you’ll find all kinds of treasures from under the sea, from naval equipment to underwater habitats to treasure recovered from sunken ships dating back hundreds of years. SEALAB I – the very first underwater living facility in the world – is even available for visitors to climb through, and many of the exciting exhibits are hands-on. 

Beyond climbing your way through SEALAB I, guests appreciate the Model of SEALAB III and the U.S> Navy Deep Dive System Mark I, which is an experimental dive system dating back to 1968. See gear divers have been using for decades at the Commercial Diving exhibit, check out the earliest underwater submersibles, and don’t miss the collection of different submarine pods and modules called swimmer delivery vehicles. 

Visitors shouldn’t expect a high-tech, multi-million-dollar museum. Instead, the Man in the Sea Museum is a work of love run by volunteers. Simply talk to the volunteers, and they become a wealth of diving information, and you’ll quickly feel the love they have for the museum and the stories the exhibits have to tell. 

Plan to spend a couple of hours going through the artifacts and historical objects, and expect children to love the place since Man in the Sea Museum features many hands-on, try-on, and climb-in exhibits that let kids of all ages get involved in learning. One of the more reasonably priced attractions in the Panama City Beach area, it’s the perfect educational stop for a lazy morning or a rainy day. 

Insider Tips:
– Both military members with ID and seniors over the age of 65 receive a discount at the Man in the Sea Museum, while kids under five get in free.
– If you want to beat the crowds, visit in the morning. Be aware that the museum is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so plan your trip accordingly.