Things To Do: Gulf World Marine Park
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
For 50 years, Gulf World Marine Park has been a fixture of trips to Panama City Beach. Located on Front Beach Rd, right across from the beach, Gulf World is a celebration of the marine life who call the Gulf home. Gulf World Marine Park is home to bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, penguins, tropical birds, stingrays, and is the only long term care facility for rough-toothed dolphins in North America.
A trip to Gulf World Marine Park is a fantastic way to learn about and encounter the marine life of the Gulf of Mexico. One of our favorite things about Gulf World is how close you can get to the marine life. They have crafted the experience so that it is both educational and very interactive.
Several shows are included with your general admission ticket. Our experience has been that these shows often ask for volunteers from the audience. So if you want an even closer encounter, make sure to sit in a visible spot and be quick to volunteer when asked. Just beware that some of the encounters are more involved than others.
Gulf World also offers some unique experiences that you can add on to your general admission ticket. We had the opportunity to do a dolphin encounter in a pool with one of the dolphins. We learned about Gulf World's rescue work with dolphins, had a chance to touch the dolphin, see his tail, and get a kiss from him. It was a truly memorable, once in a lifetime experience!
If you have kids who think they might want to become veterinarians someday, you might want to check out Vet Camp, an interactive day camp offered in June and July where participants learn about the internal structure of marine mammals and practice diagnosing the animals.
Tweens and teens are likely to go for the Trainer for a Day program, where they can shadow Gulf World's Ocean Ambassadors and get a behind the scenes look at their work. This experience is not inexpensive, but for a special occasion, it would be the memory of a lifetime!
Except for some major holidays, Gulf World Marine Park is open daily rain or shine. General admission to the park includes daily shows and exhibits. The show schedule can be found here. Gulf World Marine Park is and easy drive from our condo and is a "must-do" on our vacation list!