When you’re a child, going to the beach means sand, sun, and fun. As an adult, there’s more to planning a vacation. The beach offers serenity, beautiful sunrises/sunsets, relaxation, and a place for fun in the sun. Choosing a beach vacation is a matter of preferences. Two big considerations are the atmosphere and amenities. Head south to work on your tan, and visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina or Panama City Beach, Florida. To help you plan the best trip for you and your family here is a comparison of two popular southeastern beaches.
When it comes to the view, both Panama City Beach and Myrtle Beach are beautiful. Myrtle Beach, a 60 mile stretch of beach, offers a view of the powerful, dark waters of the Atlantic. Dune preservation areas are fenced off in quaint, rustic style. The sand is dark, with a grayish hue, but it is clean. The water is deep blue, with strong currents, and small cresting waves. You can sit on your balcony and watch an amazing sunrise on the water’s horizon.
Panama City beach offers a breath-taking view of crystal blue-green waters, divided from the darker, deeper gulf by a sandbar that stretches for miles along the Florida panhandle. The Gulf waves never crest more than about three feet, unless there’s a storm, and in the morning the water can be placid. The white sand enhances the brilliant water and makes a beautiful seascape. The drawback, is that the sand is often dirty and littered with trash and debris from the ocean.
For beauty, I prefer the Gulf of Mexico at Panama City Beach. I also love the tranquil sunset over the Gulf.
For swimming, the Gulf is, again, my choice. The waters of the Atlantic in the Myrtle Beach area average the high seventy degree range, all summer long. That’s too cold for my blood. The water in Panama City is in the upper 80 to 90 degree range. It is sometimes just cool enough to wash away the burn of the blistering sun. The shallow water and sandbars offer safe places to play. You can play football, swim, or float in the water for hours. The disadvantage is the seaweed and erratic thunderstorms that pop up in the late afternoon.
Lodging: Hotels, Condominiums, and Resorts
Choosing a beach vacation has a lot to do with lodging, recreation, and other attractions. Both beaches offer plenty of hotels and resorts in every price range. Myrtle Beach has a well planned stretch of beach-side amenities known as The Grand Strand. This is the location of hotels, well groomed sidewalks, and strictly inspected and maintained pools. There are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of hotels and resorts. Shops, ice cream parlors, and pizza houses are located in the district. It is a cleaner, better developed, and more sophisticated than Panama City.
Panama City Beach is undergoing a transition that planners hope will turn the beach into more of a resort area and less of a playground. This beach is a top choice for partying. Developers are tearing down most of the old, mom and pop hotels. You used to be able to drive into Panama City and get a hotel room for $40 bucks a night, no reservations required. New resorts, hotels, and condominiums are going up all along the beach.
Amusements, Dining and Recreation
Many of the roadside businesses where sun lovers once shopped, ate ice cream and played miniature golf in Panama City have fallen by the wayside. The result is a beach that is one part beautifully developed resorts and two parts abandoned buildings, and weathered, old businesses selling souvenirs, ice, beer, and adult novelties. Unless you stay in a resort, restaurants are no longer easy to find. The shortage of good restaurants near the beach creates overcrowding and long waits.
At night, there are one or two night clubs, including Club la Vela, a huge nightclub with live entertainment and multi-level dance floors. There aren’t a lot of alternatives for dining or entertainment, although more are planned in new developments. The only decent shopping left at Panama City is at Alvin’s Island or Walmart. Alternatives to swimming and sunbathing includes go carts, miniature golf, and high-flying, amusement rides. Miracle Strip Amusement park and some classic miniature golf locations in Panama City have shut down. The number of new amusement sites is limited. Partying is the primary amusement in Panama City. The ruckus in Panama City doesn’t begin to die down until well after midnight.
Myrtle Beach, offers dining near the beach, and has an extensive venue of night clubs and restaurants near the beaches. Dining and nightlife in Myrtle Beach offers variety, flavor, and premium service. Myrtle Beach is family oriented. There are a number of golf courses, miniature golf, go carts, and trendy restaurants. There are more shows and entertainment venues in Myrtle Beach, including dance clubs, comedy clubs, and theaters. A number of sound ordinances keep the hullabaloo to a medium roar relative to Panama City.
Two Great Beaches: Two Distinctly Different Choices
Depending on what you want in a vacation, the choice may be easy. Both beaches are easy to love. Panama City Beach continues to develop, but at the rate teens and young adults continue to flock to the shores, they face a daunting task if they wish to change the party reputation and atmosphere of the beach. Panama City Beach is the place to party, young or old. Liquor flows freely, “The Strip” is filled bumper to bumper with giddy teenagers whistling and cat-calling. The parade of madness lasts well into the early morning hours.
If you look for outrageous fun, and a vacation that resembles a summer long carnival, choose Panama City Beach, Florida. If you want to sit back, relax, enjoy shopping, fine dining, the best in entertainment, and partying on the side head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.