While we were in PCB, we decided we wanted to take a boat trip to Shell Island and have a chance to swim with the dolphins. After some research, we decided to go with the Island Time, a 55-foot catamaran - it was a 3.5 hour that included snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins. We didn't realize until we got there that they don't actually dock at Shell Island, but that didn't keep us from having a fabulous time.
The boat ride was smooth and easy, with fun music and a hilarious crew. Our first stop was about an hour of snorkeling out in the gulf. We all had fun, even though only Dad is really comfortable with the equipment. We used mom's shelling net and scooped up some rather large shells, and Dad even saw a small octopus in a cinder block on the ocean floor.
Back aboard the Island Time, we sailed out past Shell Island and found a pod of dolphins playing in the surf. The boat stopped, and we all piled off again hoping for a chance to swim with the dolphins. Only a couple of them came close to us, and nobody in my family actually got to touch them. It seemed like no time before the captain said it was time to go. Ben and I got back on the boat, but Mom, Dad, and a few others took their time and a really big dolphin came rather close to them. Dad was actually the last one back on the boat, and he was almost close enough to touch the biggest dolphin the crew said they had ever seen. It was so cool!
Finally, we headed back to land, graced by a gorgeous sunset and followed by a swarm of seagulls begging for the sandwiches the crew served us. Keeping things lighthearted and fun, the crew ran a hula-hooping contest, followed by a conch-shell blowing contest. Dad participated in the latter, and though he didn't win he sure made a loud sound.
It was an amazing evening, tons of fun, and perfect weather. If you're ever in Panama City Beach and want to take a boat trip, I highly recommend the Island Time. I'd go out again today if I could!