Enjoy a Cheap
Florida Island Vacation
Saint George Island Has Miles of Undeveloped Beaches
For a Florida Island vacation far from crowded beaches and high rise condos of other areas, come to Saint George Island in the heart of what's known as Florida's "Forgotten Coast," this mostly undeveloped and uncrowded stretch of Florida's panhandle from Mexico Beach to Carrabelle.
According to my understanding, the area got its name when locals became indignant because some official state tourist brochure of the late 1980s or early 1990s "forgot" to mention this part of the state.
Real Florida At Its Best
If walking for miles along undeveloped beaches is your thing, you can do that to your heart's content here at the Forgotten Coast's Saint George Island State Park. Many times on the far stretches of the beach, you won't see another soul.
The Gulf waters here aren't clear like they are farther west on the Panhandle, such as in Panama City.That's due in part to the freshwater flow of the nearby Apalachicola river. Still, it's a beautiful place.
The Park is located on the island's east end, and boasts nine miles of mostly wild and deserted beach, just made for Florida adventuring.
The peace and solitude found along these pristine Gulf shores adds to the island experience here.
One moonlit night, I enjoyed a long, solitary stroll along the beach. The silver moonbeams glistening off the Gulf waters, the gentle sounds of the surf against the sands, and the warm briny sea breeze against my face all added up to a thoroughly memorable and delightful experience here on this windswept barrier island off Florida's panhandle coast.
The Lonely Barrier Island Beach Stretches to the Horizon
The beach is only about 500 or 600 yards from the campground. The campground is located about 4 miles from the Park's front gate, which itself is located on the far east end of this island. Because of its relative remoteness, to me it felt perfectly safeto walk the beach day or night. In my opinion, a Florida island vacation wouldn't be nearly as good if you couldn't go for a nightime walk on an undeveloped star-studded or moonlit beach.
This cheap Florida island vacation involves camping. That's the primary way you reduce your costs. The Park has 60 campsites with water and electricity hookups, plus a dump station. The campground has lots of trees and most of the campsites have a decent amount of shade. Restroom facilities complete with hot showers are available in the campground.
I don't own a bicycle (gotta get one), but the miles of lightly traveled roads and trails here make me think this would make for excellent cycling. Granted, I was here during the week when there are fewer people in the Park, but the campground was full and there still wasn't much road traffic. I suppose week-end traffic could be greater, butI suspect it wouldn't be too bad.
The Road Less Traveled
Saint George Island State Park has two hiking trails. One, the Gap Point Trail is a 2.5-mile one-waytrek. The other is 1.0 mile.
This Florida island vacation is on a barrier island with about 55 miles of shoreline--roughly half of that along the Gulf and the other half along Apalachicola Bay. That means there are a lot of places to go kayaking.
While in town on the island, I stopped in at Island Outfitters to pick up a bit of "local knowledge."
Saint George Island Outfitters
I met the owners, Capt. Larry Troy and his wife Angela, both of whom proved very knowledgeable about the island. Larry is a retired charter fishing Captain with more than 30 years experience fishing these waters. Together, they run the shop where they sell clothing, tackle, kayaks and more. Plus, they do rent a variety of watercraft including kayaks.
Larry and Angela Troy Know Their Stuff
Larry and Angela said a lot of people kayak around here, and they often see dolphins offshore. It made me want to get a kayak and go photograph a dolphin. I'll do that on my next trip.I've already decided to come back here to Saint George Island. It's that kind of place.
For current local boating, fishing or kayaking info when I return, I'll be checking with Larry and Angela.
Downtown Saint George Island
Downtown on the island is charmingly small. No hustle and bustle here, that's for sure. Still, there are shops and restaurants where you can while away the hours gunkholing from one place to the next, in between stopping to enjoy a bit of seafood.
In Town on the Island
Any Florida island vacation has to have some seafood in the mix. I didn't get to eat there, but the locals told me the Blue Parrot was the place for good seafood. Just the smell of salt air and sea breezes gets my mouth watering for some tasty ocean fare. I don't know if they sell cheeseburgers here, but if they do, you could have a "cheeseburger in Parrotdise."
The Blue Parrot
The most prominent downtown structure is the Saint George Lighthouse. This is actually a reconstruction of the original light built in 1852 which stood on nearby Little Saint George Island.
Saint George Lighthouse and Museum
Shifting barrier-island sands caused the collapse of that light, but the Saint George Lighthouse Association salvaged the materials and used them to build this replacement as a monument to history.