Nestled between the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Apalachicola National Forest, Panacea is a nature lover's paradise. Towering pine forests, shady palmetto and hardwood hammocks, a bountiful freshwater lake, healthy tidal marshes, and pristine estuaries provide opportunities for bird and wildlife observation. The sweeping views are compelling. Otter Lake, located one mile west of town, features an amazing feathered performance of birds, which roost at dusk. Follow Bottoms Road to Skipper Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The end of the road reveals an open sky ideal for watching sunsets and for stargazing.
Panacea is one of several Natural North Florida communities located along U.S. Highway 98, the Gulf Coastal Highway, and is approximately 40 miles south of the city of Tallahassee, the state capital. Panacea was originally known as Smith Springs until 1893 when the land around the five springs located here was purchased and the community was renamed Panacea, after the goddess of universal remedy, due to the supposed curative properties of the spring waters.
Panacea is steeped in a rich maritime history, shaped by generations of proud families who still work the water in the time-honored traditions of boat-building, shrimping, crabbing, and fishing. Visitors can learn the about the maritime history of the area, or even how to build a boat, at the Big Bend Maritime Center located in town.
The Rock Landing dock features breathtaking views of Dickerson Bay. This is where commercial and sport fishermen bring home their daily catches of blue crab, oysters, pink and white shrimp, mullet, trout, and grouper, which is sold to local restaurants and markets. Plan to attend the Blue Crab Festival held the first Saturday each May, as well as the Mighty Mullet Maritime Festival, which takes place in the fall.
Panacea is home to the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory. The laboratory houses touch tanks allowing children to see and/or touch creatures from the nearby Gulf such as seahorses and hermit crabs, emerald eyed spiny box fish, electric rays and red and white spotted calico crabs.
The Wakulla County Welcome Center is located on U.S. Highway 98 near Dickerson Bay. Stop in to browse displays of old photographs, artifacts, and artwork while discovering Panacea's attractions, as well as for local nature guides and charter boat captains at your service.