Isolated from the amusement parks and recreational activities of the beach, the Shell Island offers you the solemnity and quietness that you could not find at the Panama City Beach. The island has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world where the pristine wilderness is its primary key. If you’re looking for a peaceful day filled with interaction with Mother Nature, the gorgeous and serene island is the perfect vacation stop you must visit during your Panama City Beach adventure!


Where is Shell Island?


Located off the coast of Panama City Beach, FL, the undeveloped barrier island is around seven miles or eleven kilometers long from the east to the west side between the St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The name came from the abundance of shells located in and around the island so you might find yourself immersed with beautiful and alluring prized shell.


What does Shell Island Offer?


The island is a home for clean forests, sand dunes, and a variety of species of wildlife animals where they meet and coexist in the beautiful island. It is a nature-oriented island where you can’t find any trace of civilization such as restaurants or even a restroom. You have to bring your own food and refreshments when visiting Shell Island. The absence of facilities complements well with the pristine and pure nature of the island where you could enjoy the majestic sceneries, bountiful wildlife, privacy, and have peace of mind. There are also bottle-nose dolphins you could find along the way and have a chance of meeting the intelligent creatures of the sea! There’s plenty of room for you to have a relaxing afternoon where no one could disturb you. To have complete privacy is a luxury nowadays.
As a protected natural reserve, you have to play an essential role in helping the preservation of the island’s unspoiled condition. Whatever you bring in there, always be sure to take it with you and never leave any trash. After all, that’s the least we could do for Mother Nature.


How to get to Shell Island


There’s no need for you to secure a park pass to enter the island, but you need a way to get there. There are many tour boats, pontoon boats, and wave runners that allows you to safely travel to the island while enjoying the stunning view and interact with the friendly dolphins! Tour boats such as Shell Island Shuttle carries passengers that runs for seven days a week during peak summer season. You could find the shuttle port at the St. Andrews State Park and be sure to call in and check on the availability of the tour boat so that there won’t be complications when you get there. There’s also the PCB Shell Island Express Ferry in which you could find it at Capt. Anderson’s Marina.


Conclusion


Words could not express the beauty of the island. Despite being an island isolated from recreational facilities and activities, you could do numerous things at this island. On the way, you could enjoy the company of friendly dolphins. Upon arrival, you could relax on Panama City Beach’s white sugar sand beach, go snorkeling with your family, collecting beautiful shells, and walk around the forests of the island where you could find many deer, many types of birds like the shorebirds, and numerous endangered species such as loggerhead and green turtles.
Going to Shell Island is a must if you want to maximize and complete the entire Panama City Beach experience.

There’s a hidden gem tucked inside Laketown Wharf. Juan Taco is located on the ground floor within the retail spaces of Laketown Wharf on the Thomas Drive side of the building, conveniently across the street from Pineapple Willy’s and the beautiful beaches of Panama City Beach.

If you’re renting your condo at Laketown Wharf, SunBird, or the Shores of Panama then you’re in luck, you’re just a short walk to some of the best food on the coast.

worst-taco

This week I had the pleasure to have lunch with friends and family at Juan Taco, and they did not disappoint. We arrived shortly after they opened in hopes of beating the crowd. Inside we were greeted by the owner, Juan Martinez, whose friendly and inviting personality gives you a sense of comfort as soon as you walk through the door. The ambiance is very relaxed and laid back. Not only is their hospitality authentic, but even their menu also has a personalized touch as it is written by hand to give you up to date specials and menu items. Every morning the chefs come in and prepare their tortillas from scratch and the food is cooked fresh. The barbacoa, carnitas, and pork belly are slow cooked daily to give you that amazing flavor that you’ll want to keep coming back for.

juan-taco-menu

When it came time to order I chose to let Juan decide and surprise us with his specialties.

The restaurant is furnished with tables, benches, and countertops all built by hand by Juan and his partner chef, Jose Duarte. Juan delivered with a large variety of delicious food that seemed endless. The table-spread consisted of chips with salsa, guac, and queso, a chicken quesadilla loaded with mozzarella and pico de gallo, Notorious P.I.G. tacos which consisted of pork belly, roasted red peppers, pickled onions, and cilantro, El Chapo tacos that had Mexican pork, mozzarella, jalapenos, and cilantro, and the Red Rooster tacos of chicken, pico de gallo, mozzarella, and jalapenos, plus a bonus side of rice and beans. Each meal was served with mild salsa rojo, salsa verde, and a very spicy salsa habanero. Juan also brought us some of his signature taco sauce to try, which was out of this world.

juan-taco-dish

These were hands down the best tacos that I have ever tasted, you could taste the authenticity through the mixture of flavors and it was obvious that Juan and Jose put a lot of thought and creativity into what they’re serving. The Notorious P.I.G. was by far the biggest hit at our table, the roasted pork belly was perfectly tender and packed with flavor, the pickled red onions offered a splash of color and a fiery piquant flavor. The El Chapo had just the right amount of kick from the jalapenos that were evened out with the mozzarella and fresh cilantro. The Red Rooster was fantastic and the chicken was so tender and cooked to perfection, just as it was in the chicken quesadilla. You could taste the freshness in each of the sauces, the taco sauce was my favorite and had just the right amount of zing to it.

After finishing our meal I was able to sit down with Juan for a few minutes and ask him a couple questions. First, I wanted to know how Juan Taco got started, how did all of this come to fruition. “I started selling tacos on Facebook,” Juan started, “Well, I got in an accident, I almost cut my thumb off with a table saw. So I kind of stopped a lot of things that I was doing at the time, and I started like selling tacos on Facebook just as boredom really. And it finally just caught on, people were like, ‘Open a restaurant, open a restaurant.’ – so, we finally opened a restaurant.”

So, what makes Juan Taco unique? “I think our approach, the way we cook things is very simple,” Juan says. “I don’t like to use anything packaged or pre-bought, just keep everything very simple, and try to show the meats off.”

As far as what the taqueria’s fans can expect in the future for Juan Taco, “Oh man, well I’m waiting for my modeling career to kick off again,” Juan Jokes. “No, um, we want to just keep growing. We’re hoping to open up a bigger spot next year. Keep the core idea the same but just keep growing in size. Just to be able to accommodate more people, to share the food with more people.”

For me, Juan Taco was one of the best restaurant experiences that I’ve had in Panama City Beach in the 11 years that I’ve lived here. From the hospitality to the atmosphere, the food, and every small detail in between, they truly are cut from a different cloth.

Written By:

Melissa Dowis

IG @hello.darlin