#14 of 37 Panama City Beach Things To Do

Panhandle Helicopter

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Panhandle Helicopter: Airborne Adventures Along the Emerald Coast
Staff Score:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Panhandle Helicopter offers the ultimate birds-eye view of the Panama City Beach area, as well as the opportunity to explore surrounding destinations from the unique vantage point of a helicopter.

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

Ready to see Panama City Beach from a new perspective? You’ll never think of this thriving city and its gorgeous surroundings the same way after you’ve seen them from the air. Panhandle Helicopter makes it all possible with tours designed to educate and delight. Ranging from five minutes to half an hour, these tours offer panoramic views, as well as plenty of opportunities for observing and photographing marine life.

There’s no need to book your flight; simply arrive at Panhandle Helicopter when you’re ready to take to the air. The staff will accommodate you and your fellow flyers. As you choose a tour, keep not only your personal comfort factor, but that of your companions in mind. The company imposes a two-person minimum for each helicopter ride, so these excursions are ideal for couples, families, or groups of friends. Opt for a shorter trip if somebody in your party is feeling nervous, or consider splitting into multiple groups. Either way, the pilots and other staff members will put you at ease as you prepare for your journey.

Weather conditions absolutely make a difference, so be sure to stop by on a sunny day. Once clouds or fog arrive, you’ll find it far more difficult to spot sharks and other marine animals.

The pilots at Panhandle Helicopter are highly interactive, so look elsewhere if you’re hoping for a silent experience. You’ll appreciate the conversation, however, as these knowledgeable individuals are happy to share the area’s best-kept secrets. As a family-owned business, this company is known for providing a personal touch.

A few of our favorite tours include the following:

Intro Ride
Primarily designed for new flyers or those with small children, this tour provides a gentle introduction to the exciting world of helicopters. While five minutes might not seem like long, it’s just enough time to gain a stunning view of the coast’s emerald waters and white sand beaches.

Miracle Strip
If you like the idea of seeing your favorite tourist destinations from above, you’ll love the Miracle Strip tour. Lasting up to nine minutes, this expedition provides a panoramic view of the city’s beaches and piers, as well as its many hotels and attractions. Keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine creatures, which are easily visible from the helicopter.

Shark Run
One of the most popular tours at Panhandle Helicopter, the appropriately-named Shark Run is designed to please shark enthusiasts. During your twelve-minute ride, you’ll spot hammerheads and bull sharks from above. The company’s experienced pilots know exactly where to find sharks and other marine creatures, so you won’t return to land disappointed.

Run to the Pass
Head to the famed Jetties, where you’ll view a variety of vessels heading for St. Andrew’s Bay. More importantly, however, you’ll see marine animals at play near Shell Island, Pier Park, and St. Andrew’s State Park. This enthralling adventure lasts a full fifteen minutes.

Shell Island
Struggling to choose between the tours outlined above? You’ll love this excursion, which delivers the best of the company’s other tours, along with several bonuses. From sunken boats to man-made reefs, you’ll see a variety of curiosities you otherwise might not have known existed. This trip lasts over twenty minutes, making it a nice step up for those who feel comfortable in a helicopter.

Nothing compares to the thrill of seeing the Emerald Coast from a helicopter. Break out of your comfort zone with one of Panhandle Helicopter’s many tours — you won’t regret it!

Insider Tips:
-As previously mentioned, Panhandle Helicopter maintains a two-person limit — but if you visit alone, you aren’t necessarily out of luck. If you’re willing to wait for another single passenger, you’ll still have the opportunity to catch a gorgeous view of the Emerald Coast from above. Still, these tours are most enjoyable when shared with loved ones.
-Because Panhandle Helicopter typically doesn’t take reservations, it’s best to arrive early. The company operates dozens of flights per day, however, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to experience the adventure of a lifetime.