You’re not exactly lacking for putt-putt options in the Panama City area—or Florida in general, to put it mildly—so it can be a bit bewildering to choose a course. It’s hard to go wrong with Pirate’s Island! This is a family-friendly playground that sets itself apart with quality design, maintenance, and a pretty irresistible (and Emerald Coast-appropriate) theme. What is the theme of this golf course? Pirates! Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf is essentially like playing mini golf on a pirate ship: a thrilling vibe for most youngsters, and plenty of fun for the grownup crowd as well.
Panama City Beach’s Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf is the local branch of a wide-ranging adventure-golf chain established in 1978 in Fort Myers Beach, and now overseeing dozens of locations across Florida, up and down the East Coast, and all the way out to the Upper Midwest.
The decorations here are all-out delightful—buccaneer statues, pirate caves, treasure chests, skull-and-crossbone motifs, no shortage of skeletons—and they come embedded within lush tropical landscaping of palm trees, waterfalls, and lakes.
The whole “freebooter” vibe isn’t restricted to mere ornamentation, either: The courses come scattered with signage about real-life pirates, so you’re actually liable to learn a little history during your game. (And don’t be surprised if you feel suddenly compelled to issue an “Arr, matey!” or two while you’re here.)
Speaking of history: President Obama and the First Family played here at Pirate’s Island Adventure Park back in 2010.
Pirate’s Island comes divided between two meticulously maintained 18-hole courses: the easy Captain Kidd’s Adventure and the tougher Blackbeard’s Challenge. The Captain Kidd’s course is great for younger children; older ones and adults will probably have more fun playing through the Blackbeard holes. (Then again, if you’re just looking for some laidback fun with the whole gang, Captain Kidd’s route should suit you just fine.)
You can opt for a one-time play-through of mini-golf with the possibility of taking on extra rounds, or go for the unlimited, all-day-play option. Kids three years old and younger—aka “Little Pirates,” as the place calls them—play for free alongside a paying adult. You’ve also got group rates available if you’re looking to engage in a little friendly competition with a large party.
The Caribbean-flavored grounds at Pirate’s Island do include some shady oases (plus benches), but dress for sunshine unless you’re hitting up the courses on the earlier or later end of things. There’s actually free insect repellant on hand in case your pirate voyage is getting a little “buggy.”
Clean facilities, plentiful parking, and some expansive views from higher parts of the course are some added pleasures at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, a decked-out, family-friendly putt-putt paradise for young and old smack dab in Panama City Beach.
-There are quite a few steps to negotiate at Pirate’s Island, so if you’ve got somebody in your group for whom stairs are a challenge you might think twice.
-There’s a chance that a hole-in-one at certain holes will land you a free round—a little extra incentive for you, though you won’t know ahead of time which holes qualify.