People from all over the country come to Bay Point Marina to fish its natural shorelines, shallows and grass beds. The waters of the northern Gulf are also known for offshore fishing, diving, water sports, sailing and its abundant artificial reefs.
The marina and its surrounding waters offer seasonal migrations of king, trout, Spanish mackerel, cobia and tarpon, with sport fishing for blue and white marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo between late May and October drawing hundreds of people each year.
Fun in the Sun
Just a little less than 2 miles from Panama City, Bay Point Marina was built in phases over several years since the 1970s. The marina began with a few lay-along spots that eventually grew into the luxury destiantion it is today, harboring 180 slips for vessels up to 125 feet in length.
In addition to numerous fishing tournaments, the marina hosts cookouts, charity events and guided cruising trips for boaters and their families to enjoy. For boaters who don’t want to eat their catch of the day, the marina is located near several dock-and-dine restaurants.
Nearby Shell Island is a boater’s retreat where hundreds of vessels line up along the 7-mile shoreline to hang out and enjoy the uninhabited island’s natural wildlife.
Back on the Map
Once upon a time, the marina was home to the area’s first Bill Fish Tournament known as the Bay Point Invitational, a million-dollar contest that ran from 1982 to 2011. Marina Director Daniel Fussell said a downturn in the economy took its toll on the event and it was cancelled.
No one knows how to reinvent themselves better than Fussell, though. He started out at the marina as a dock hand where he emptied trash cans before eventually becoming the marina’s director. “We’ve had a lot of learning curves over the past 10 years,” he said. Not only did the economy hurt business, but an oil spill scare in the panhandle kept boaters away for a bit.
But all of that is in the past now, and Bay Point Marina is thriving. The economic swing, according to Fussell, has brought on a whole new style of boating in the form of bigger and faster center console boats. The marina is focused on expanding, and hopes to attract a new wave of power vessels, from sport fishing to cruisers and trawlers.
Getting Here By Sea
If you’re traveling by boat and coming from the Gulf, enter the Panama City Pass. Once you pass Green Marker No. 9, turn to port into Grand Lagoon and take Red Marker No. 2 down the starboard side and enter the lagoon.
If you’re coming via the Intracoastal Waterway, turn southwest near Mile 289 into the St. Andrew Bay shipping channel. After passing Green Marker No. 11, turn to starboard into Grand Lagoon and then follow the instructions above.
Once you make it into the lagoon, the entrance to the marina’s harbor is clearly marked at Red Marker No. 2. Keep Red Marker No. 6 on your right as you enter the channel.
Bay Point Marina
3824 Hatteras Avenue
Panama City, FL 32411
Contact: Daniel Fussell, director of marinas
Dockage: Transient docking available at 180 slips up to 125 feet long
Water depth at dock: 6 feet
Fuel: Gas and diesel
Electricity: 30/50/100 amp
Amenities: Cable, water, ice, trash, restrooms, showers, laundry, Wi-Fi, high-speed fuel pump, golf courses, four-star hotel, swimming pool, restaurants and boat launch
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (summer) and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (winter)
VHF Channel: 16/78A
Author: Heather Ervin is the associate editor of HeartLand Boating magazine