Pick from quiet sunsets to overnight camping to family fun
Gulf County, Florida, is known for its laid back, low-rise lifestyle. There are no tall buildings along the shoreline here. Neon lights are nowhere to be found. The beaches are the main attraction in each of Gulf County’s unique communities. Each beach along this 43-mile stretch of shoreline has a personality all its own and there is plenty of access for all.
Located on the central gulf coast, two hours southwest of Tallahassee and just an hour east of Panama City Beach, this is a beach destination that welcomes visitors who want to disconnect from the rest of the world while enjoying time reconnecting with each other. Four-legged visitors are welcome, too! All Gulf County beaches are pet friendly, with the exception of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456; 850-227-1327). Animals must remain on a leash at all times on this beautiful wildlife haven and owners are required to abide by Leave No Trace principles.
St. Joe Beach, is a little strip of heaven. This laid-back beach community includes Windmark Beach and has abundant on-the-beach lodging rentals and convenient beach accesses, where visitors enjoy pet-friendly white sand beaches. While this is the spot that borders the central time zone, time seems to stand still when enjoying an amazing sunset.
Port St. Joe acts as the central hub of Gulf County’s beach communities. With its convenient bay accesses, it is popular both for both shore and water activities. There are parks, playgrounds and walking trails nearby and the newly renovated Frank Pate Park (502 Monument Avenue, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456) makes launching a boat or joining a fishing charter easy. Exploring the clear, shallow waters on a snorkeling or shelling adventure or enjoying an amazing sunset are popular activities all year long.
Home to both the state park and Cape San Blas, St. Joseph peninsula is a favorite spot for disconnecting. There are single-family vacation rental homes on both the sandy gulf beaches and back bay shores. This is a favorite spot for water activities like fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Off the water, biking, birding and walking the nearly nine miles of paved Loggerhead Trail are popular activities.
Indian Pass beaches are a prime location for camping, horseback riding and shore fishing. With its Old Florida vibe, Indian Pass offers a return to simpler times and is a favorite for families who are looking for time to explore the natural coastal areas together, enjoying a day trip across the bay to St. Vincent Island Wildlife Refuge (accessible only by private boat or ferry service) or basking in the glow of a beach bonfire after sunset.
For those who want to enjoy a completely different experience on the water, about 20 minutes inland, the Dead Lakes are an amazing experience for both fishing and exploring. Located in Wewahitchka, the lakes comprise freshwater rivers and lakes, punctuated by swampy wilderness, home to beautiful cypress and White Tupelo, source of the famous Tupelo Honey.
If you go
Find out more about what makes the beaches and waters of Gulf County so special and make a trip to the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center (260 Marina Drive, Suite C-1, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456; 205-910-4717). Here, visitors learn about the amazing threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest and hatch on Gulf County beaches each year and the programs in place to protect them.
Opportunities to get on the water are abundant. Charter businesses offer access to every kind of Gulf County fun:
Happy Ours Kayak & Bike Outpost (775 Cape San Blas Road, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456;
478-442-8810) provides kayak rentals as well as guided eco-tours and snorkeling trips on the waters of St. Joseph Bay.
A trip with About Fun Charters (521 5th Street, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456; 850-340-1035) offers a special look at the marine animals and coastal ecology of the area, while enjoying time on the water.
A tour of the Dead Lakes with Off the Map Expeditions (482 Gary Rowell Road, Wewahitchka, Florida 32465; 850-819-3053), either by kayak or charter boat, takes visitors into a surreal world, rich with intriguing vegetation and wildlife.