About Florida's Forgotten Coast
Apalachicola is a charming historic riverside town with a wonderful selection of local seafood and a diverse architectural heritage. Here, fishing is second to none – with a choice between “deep sea”, bay or river. In Apalachicola, time seems to run at a slower pace… The days just seem to ease by without the worries of the world. Try it and you’ll be hooked!
In Creek Indian, “Cola” means water. Coca Cola was, when it was first introduced, “water with cocaine”. The name Apalachicola means “people (or land) on the other side of the water” in the language of the native Creek Indians.
Apalachicola was incorporated in 1831. Shipping was Apalachicola’s big industry and it soon became the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico. Cotton was exported to the Northeast and to Europe. Manufactured and luxury goods were imported from Europe. France was one of the major trade partners, shipping among other goods sizeable volumes of silk and Cognac. By the 1850s, the waterfront was lined with brick warehouses and broad streets to handle the loading and unloading of cotton. Steamboats laden with cotton came down the River and were unloaded. Then small shallow draft schooners moved the cargo to larger ships offshore. The larger ships sailed to Europe and the Northeastern states. In the 1830s, a Consulate of France and a Consulate of Prussia were established.
As the railroads expanded throughout the United States, a new industry took shape in the city. Since the area is home to large cypress forests, Franklin County developed several big lumber mills in the late 1800s. By the end of the 19th century, oysters and seafood became an important industry as well.
Today, Apalachicola offers lifestyles usually available in much larger cities. Well supplied grocery stores, where vintage port and Champagne Cuvees can be found in the company of smoked salmon, Camembert and rack of lamb. It is also a thriving artists’ community. Restaurants abound, with diverse and talented chefs. Architecture is a daily pleasure to residents. Here, time has a way to flow a bit slower. In short, Apalachicola has a lot of a Key West in the days of Hemingway…
On Avenue B between 13th and 15th streets, the park was redesigned and improved in the late 1990s. It has become a favorite wedding place. Lafayette Park features a long dock, a large gazebo, picnic tables, mature trees and two children playgrounds. The gazebo makes an excellent location for weddings or other events. The pier is known locally for fishing… or just to relax while watching the sunset over the bay.
Battery Park and the Old City Marina
It features a boat launch, a pier, one of the two city marinas, a park with picnic tables and a playground. Battery Park is in Apalachicola below the tall bridge (Highway 98) crossing the river; on Bay Avenue between Fourth and Sixth Streets. It is also the location of the annual Seafood Festival, held on the first weekend of every November. In earlier days, it was home to batteries protecting the entrance to the River.
Chestnut Street Cemetery
It is one of the more significant cemeteries on the Gulf Coast. Established in 1831, the stones tell the history of Apalachicola. Immigrants buried there were born primarily in Italy, Ireland and Germany. Funerary art reflects the ethnic diversity of the community, religious beliefs and burial customs trade patterns. Located on Highway 98 between 6th and 8th Streets. Around Halloween, each year, an interesting re-enactment of the lives of some of Apalachicola’s long-departed soul blends story-telling and history. Rich tradesmen and even Jesse James will come back to haunt you, should you be bold enough to attend some of these events…
Chapman Botanical Garden
A great place to take a relaxing stroll through canopy walk ways, and to view local flowers. Named after one of the town’s celebrities: Dr. Alvan Chapman. In the early 2000s, the neighboring Vietnam War Memorial Park was integrated into the Botanical Garden, creating a larger setting, ideal for peaceful strolls and meditation.
Built in 1838 by Thomas Orman, the wood for this two-story home was cut to measure near Syracuse, New York. It was then shipped to Apalachicola by sailing vessel around the Florida Keys; then assembled on the bluff overlooking the broad estuary and bay of the Apalachicola River. Legend has it that it was built by a wealthy local merchant for his mistress. Today the house still resonates with a genteel aura and warmth of the past. Before being purchased by the State of Florida to become a museum, it belonged to a local lawyer, Doug Gaidry, and his Austrian wife, Anna.
Apalachicola National Estuary Research Reserve
The Apalachicola National Estuary Research Reserve encompasses over 246,000 acres and is the second largest estuarine research reserve in the United States. Nature trails and bird viewing areas are at the same time breathtaking and fascinating. A more modern center was recently built in Eastpoint, at the foot of the St. George Island bridge, to house exhibits and an aquarium with local fish and turtles.
John Gorrie Museum
Dr. Gorrie was the inventor of the ice machine. His original purpose for to treat his patients suffering from malaria. We know that his invention would be promised to a brilliant future. The museum is located at Sixth Street and Avenue D.
Many churches are worth a visit. Among the ones with historic significance are Trinity (Episcopal) on Sixth Street and Avenue D; St. Patrick (Catholic) on Sixth Street and Avenue C; the Methodist Church on Highway 98 and Fifth Street; and the original Baptist Church on Highway 98 and Eighth Street. Like Prague, Apalachicola could be called the city of hundred steeples, for this little town of 2,700 souls has over twenty churches to fulfill residents’ and visitors’ spiritual needs.
CAPE SAN BLAS
Cape San Blas is 20-mile peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. The end of the peninsula is a Florida State Park. Cape San Blas has shimmering white sandy beaches, stunning sand dunes and is in a secluded location along the Gulf of Mexico. It is a great place to get away from it all and relax and enjoy the beach.
The park has two dune walk-overs for access to the beach, a gazebo, several picnic tables, running water, restrooms, and playground. It is located on SR30E just off SR30A on the way to Cape San Blas.
Cape San Blas State Park
Cape San Blas State Park was ranked #1 beach by Dr. Stephen Leathermann, more commonly known as “Dr. Beach”. The 2,516-acre park offers swimming, picnicking, fishing and boating.
Come back to “Old Florida,” where unspoiled and uncrowded beaches await you. Take a tour of St. Vincent Island and sightsee while you’re here. The water here is shallow, so less ‘big waves’ occur. Warm tan sand and tropical breezes are found here on some of the widest expanse of beach in Gulf County. The area of beaches referred to as C-30, is in fact the northwest extension of Indian Pass and located on the stretch of beach on County Road 30.
Carrabelle is unique for its freshwater and saltwater fishing (a well-kept treasure of this tiny coastal town) and is a boat lovers’ paradise. Carrabelle is home to the world’s smallest police station, Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, the Big Bend Saltwater Classic (fishing tournament), Crooked River Lighthouse, and the St. James Bay golf course designed by Robert Walker. Most vacation properties in this area either offer white sandy beaches or direct deep water boat access – but they all offer a fantastic view.
World’s Smallest Police Station
The world’s smallest police station in Carrabelle is a blue phone booth on the main drag of Highway 98. The phone booth was installed in 1963 to keep policemen out of the rain.
Crooked River Lighthouse
The 103′ lighthouse was built to replace the lighthouse on Dog Island that was destroyed in a hurricane in 1875. The tower was originally red with a black cupola, but the lower half was repainted white around the turn of the century. The lighthouse was electrified in 1933 and automated and unmanned in 1952. The lighthouse was decommissioned in August of 1995.
The park has a dune walkover out to the beach, picnic tables and restrooms. It is located on Highway 98 just two miles west of Carrabelle. In 1943, the beach was used in part of the training of the troops from Camp Gordon Johnston for the Normandy Landing on D-Day. (June 6th, 1944)
Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
The base was used as an amphibious training facility for the Normandy Invasion.
Dog Island is small and remote, accessible only by boat, ferry or airplane. The Nature Conservancy owns most of the island, whilst some portions are also privately owned residential property. Dog Island has a rich maritime history and there is some evidence of a human presence on the island as early as 8,000 years ago.
Dog Island Light House
Dog Island Light was built on the western tip of Dog Island in 1838 to mark the “middle entrance to St. George’s Sound.” The light was first lit in February 1839. The tower was only forty feet tall but contained 14 lamps with 16-inch reflectors in a revolving lens. In October 1842, a hurricane destroyed keeper Latham Babcock’s dwelling and a portion of the lighthouse fell. A temporary wooden tower was used until the brick tower could be repaired. In 1856, a revolving fourth order Fresnel lens was installed to replace the obsolete lamp and reflector system. During the Civil War, Confederates burned the stairway and damaged the lens to prevent its use as a lighthouse or lookout tower. Repairs were made after the war and the light was relit. In 1872, beach erosion undermined the base of the tower, causing it to lean. Since the keeper’s dwelling was located on higher ground farther inland, the lens was moved to the roof of the dwelling. A hurricane in 1873 destroyed both the tower and the dwelling.
Dog Island Airport
A publicly owned turf runway, that is 2700 x 120 ft. in size. The airport is managed by Dog Island Conservation District in Carrabelle. (Phone: 850-697-4702).
Eastpoint is at the core of Franklin County. It is the necessary passage between the county’s three other destinations: Apalachicola, St. George Island and Carrabelle. From Eastpoint, the traveler may drive north, south, east or west; it is the only point in the county where such a luxury is afforded! It is therefore easy to understand why Eastpoint has become a hub of commercial activity: first and foremost, the oyster industry reigns over the small town; but it does also thrive with support trades such as gas stations, car sales and repairs, boat sales and repairs, fishing equipment, laundry, new and consignment furniture, a grocery store, a Dollar General, several convenience stores, a few seafood restaurants, souvenir shops (tourists drive through Eastpoint to go to St. George Island and Apalachicola); but also, entertainment such a mini-golf or the brand new Estuary Center… and even a Liquor Store. Professional services are also available: a chiropractor, a physician, a veterinarian, an attorney, and two CPAs. A few churches have called Eastpoint their home: Church of God, Church of Christ, First Baptist, United Baptist, High Calling Church and Eastpoint Fellowship.
Nestled on the easterly shores of the Apalachicola estuary (explaining its name), Eastpoint offers two great residential housing assets.
- The first one is bay front living at its best. With miles of pristine shorelines facing west and south, Eastpoint is a fisherman’s and nature lover’s paradise. To its east, Gramercy Plantation, a splendid gated subdivision spreading over 400 acres, offers almost one mile of bay frontage (albeit, Highway 98 must be crossed to enjoy the waters of the bay…). Gramercy Plantation has a large community swimming pool, walking trails, tennis court and even a secured boat storage area.
- The second one is affordable living. Several subdivisions offer space, quality and an incredible value.
And no description of Eastpoint would be complete if we failed to mention the flotilla of hundreds of oyster boats harvesting the bay under most weather conditions; and the unpretentious yet so picturesque Eastpoint harbor alongside Highway 98.
MEXICO BEACH & ST. JOE BEACH
Mexico Beach lies at the western edge of our coast. Only twenty miles east of Panama City (P.C.), vacationers here have the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches and the clear aqua waters in a family friendly environment by day, and still have time to take in the “P.C. Beach” scene after hours. Superb beaches, abundant fishing and boating make Mexico Beach a “complete package” unequaled anywhere else along the Gulf Coast. Whether you prefer bringing your own boat and staying on the canal, or staying right on the beach, Mexico Beach has something for everyone. Plenty of shopping and places to drive are also available.
St. Joe Beach
St. Joe Beach, is one of the most unpopulated areas of the Gulf Coast . Situated between Historic Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach you have smooth crystal waters, views of the “Cape” across the bay and breathtaking sunsets. A short drive to Port St. Joe is great shopping and dining.
PORT ST. JOE
Frank Pate Park
The Park has a pier, covered picnic tables, tennis court, playground, walk way, grills, and restrooms. It is located at the end of 5th St. in Port St. Joe.
Constitution Convention Museum State Park
Port St. Joe, Florida ‘s first state convention was held there in 1830. The state’s first constitution was drafted and signed at this location.
St. GEORGE ISLAND
St. George Island offers one of the best beaches (if not THE best) in the United States. The St. George Island beaches are ranked, year after year, among the top ten U.S. beaches… And they often make it to the very top: twenty miles of white sand beaches! The dominant southwesterly breeze renders the beaches extremely safe. Five miles offshore, access can be by road via a long wide new bridge, by private airplane (3,339’ runway in mint condition on St. George Island and 5,425’ in nearby Apalachicola), or by private boat. Most visitors drive.
If history means anything, the island is the extension of a natural sand bank at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. The sand bank was created, approximately 5,000 years ago, by the counter effects of the Gulf tides and River flow. St. George Island was first explored by Europeans in the sixteenth century. Spanish Conquistadores visited the various peninsulas and barrier islands off the Florida Panhandle, giving them names of Saints, as was the norm in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: Cape San Blas, St. Vincent Island, and of course, St. George Island. In those days, the Apalachicola Bay was home to a thriving Indian community. Burial mounds abound around the bay and on the island. Indian artifacts found daily on our shores attest to this historical past.
In the 1910s and earlier, St. George Island was a quaint barrier island, with only one resident family, the lighthouse keeper’s. His last name was Marshall. He was the great-grandfather of Anchor’s founder, Dwight I. Marshall, Jr. The lighthouse was then (and until the 1990s) located at the elbow of what is now Little St. George Island. This “corner” location was key to the safety of maritime traffic. The lighthouse’s new location was dictated by “tourist” rather than maritime traffic – and, to the credit of the Lighthouse Association, they did a superb job reconstructing the monument.
In the 1920s, after the Great War, the island fell in the hands of a man of many talents, William Popham. He was a preacher turned speculator and oyster king (albeit for a short reign). His ‘reign’ lasted ten years, until the Federal Government stepped in; convicted him of fraud for advertising via the U.S. Mail that St. George Island was the Southern equivalent of New York City – with its network of street cars and cozy infrastructure. In those days, the lighthouse was the only human trace in this untouched sanctuary! One legacy came out of this scandal: the Federal laws on mail fraud – courtesy of the Popham case and St. George Island!
1930s: Good-bye Popham; Hello Clyde Atkinson! Clyde Atkinson was, back then, a young lawyer. He represented Popham through his legal misadventures. At the end, Popham lost everything and Atkinson received, in lieu of legal fees, title to St. George Island. In those days, it was like owning a parcel on the moon: he knew where it was, but it was of no practical utility. In the 1930s, values were driven by the turpentine income potential. St. George Island had quite a few pine trees, but they were shorter than the ones on the mainland (due to the adverse conditions on a barrier island); therefore, the yield was feeble. Furthermore, accessibility by turpentine harvesters and transportation of the product were tedious and costly. Therefore, it was not such a good acquisition… Yet.
The 1940s saw the island be put to patriotic use. Leased by its new owner to the United States Army, it served as top secret training ground for the Landing in Normandy. Hitler’s bellicose passion translated into World War II in 1939. The United States joined the Allied Forces in the wake of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. From this point, things would move rather quickly: landing in North Africa on November 8, 1942; and the big one, in Normandy on June 6, 1944, to give a final blow to “Festung Europa”, Fortress Europe as the Nazis called it, so skillfully prepared by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox”. Seldom, credit is given to the locations where our valiant troops received their impeccable training: St. George Island and Dog Island for the actual assault; and Camp Gordon Johnston in Lanark Village for the accommodations… After the war, Clyde Atkinson lost a good tenant and the income it brought.
In the 1950s, the island was somewhat of a Frontier. Clyde one day discussed with a close friend of his, by the last name of Smith, the possibility to develop the island. Smith had just retired and he was a fantastic salesman. The concept became reality when the four miles of beaches, now known as the “Gulf Beaches”, were platted. Dirt roads were built. Enthusiasm was present – yet, more enthusiasm than potential buyers! The first sales of beachfront lots were “extracted” from local Apalachicolians (the most logical market). Dwight I. Marshall, Jr., Anchor Realty’s founder, was among them. It was a deal hard to turn down: free land if the owner built a house within three years! A handful of families soon resided there year-round. Among them, Dwight Marshall and his wife Helen; and the Armisteads, founders of SunCoast Realty. In those days, it was still possible to hunt wild hogs in what would become the Plantation.
In the 1960s, a toll bridge was constructed. Narrow and (it would be known later) structurally flawed, it nevertheless represented a tremendous leap forward: the island now was accessible to all. In those days, the “honor system” prevailed: the toll booth was closed at night; and honest citizens had to stop to place their $2 donation in a box… It was the decade when Dwight Marshall began his real estate business, from his home on West Gorrie Drive.
The 1970s saw another leap forward: the development of the Plantation. Until 1973, what was not the “Gulf Beaches” still belonged to Clyde Atkinson. It was most the island. It includes what we know today as the State Park, the East End and the Plantation. Two young businessmen, Gene Brown and John Stocks approached Clyde Atkinson and purchased in bulk the balance of Clyde’s interest on the island. Clyde carved for his family (Sarah, his daughter; and Ted Rodrigue, his son-in-law) several beachfront lots, where his daughter and grand-sons would end up building beach homes. Brown and Stock, soon after closing, sold the State of Florida the State Park. Gene was a brilliant attorney; and John a skilled businessman, who, among other accomplishments, purchased the scraps of the Statue of Liberty (yes, the NYC one!) when it was restored at the end of the twentieth century; he then resold them as memorabilia; and thus, became a pioneer in recycling! The foresight in planning the Plantation was tremendous: low density; keeping native vegetation as natural landscape; minimum standards of construction; one dorsal road (Leisure Lane) to access the entire subdivision in order to preserve peace and privacy of the residents; an airstrip long enough to receive some jets (Citation Bravo, etc.); a dedicated staff responsible for security and much more; and, of course, a location second to none, with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Bay of Apalachicola on the other. At the westernmost end, Bob Sikes Cut offers views so unique that lots there command a premium over beachfront property… The Plantation sales began well.
In the 1980s, the real estate market slowed down, and the economy was severely affecting real estate sales. Interest rates did flirt with 20%. The Plantation developers soon faced financial hardship. Andrew Jackson Savings Bank, who had followed them during their good days, was now facing a major problem at the coast: a huge delinquent loan! In those days, banks had not become accustomed (yet) to these types of problems. Andrew Jackson thus became the unwilling owner of dozens of Plantation lots. Between 1988 and 1990, they marketed lot bundles comprising one beachfront lot, one bay front lot, and two interior lots for $165,000 – with 10% and very attractive interest rates. The architecture of the Plantation was still what the original developers had mandated: earth tones; cypress and pine; cedar shakes roofs… The rest of the island fared peacefully during this decade. The commercial district saw two new buildings added: in 1982, the Anchor Realty building, where the SGI Fresh Market and Anchor Realty building now stands. The old building was built in the purest local tradition: cedar shakes and stained cypress sidings. In 1985, Jack and Barbara Vail, a retired couple from Pennsylvania, built the St. George Inn (still standing!) next to the Anchor Realty office. Jack’s passion was history. The piano bar at the bottom level was often the center of heated discussions (always civil and sober) concerning history. In the early 1980s, two of Anchor’s principals, Willie Norred and Dwight Marshall attempted, unsuccessfully, to incorporate the island. In 1988, Anchor Realty’s new addition was Olivier Monod. He would soon become the company’s president (in 1990).
Since the 1990s, a marginal but vocal ‘lobby’ of new transplants was beginning to challenge most new development ideas, however small – after having secured their own place in paradise under the sun, as loyal proponents of the saying: Charity begins at home! One thing remains certain, the island was evolving: new construction styles favored more colorful buildings, larger houses, and more architectural research. The “boxes on stilts” were being replaced by “statements of personality”, and sometimes by “palaces by the sea”. More restaurants and shops were opening. No Cartier or Gucci, of course, but an overall attention to Franklin County’s heritage of fabulous seafood and wood craftsmanship. Symbolically, it was the decade when the sleeping giant, The Saint Joe Company, chose to morph from a quiet land holding company into a vibrant mega-developer: JOE, ARVIDA and The St. Joe Company were born! In those days, the future seemed bright and limitless; fueled by tens of millions of retiring baby boomers.
Then, the early 2000s roared in! Speculation, enthusiasm, faith, passion, and, maybe, just a bit of blindness helping, Plantation beachfront prices went up from the $300,000 mark in 2000 to $2,500,000 at the peak in 2005. The optimism of the 1990s had morphed into hubris… And Hubris is always destructive. 2001, 2002 and 2003 were fantastic years: strong sustained growth. Then, 2004 was unbelievable: prices of beachfront lots increased by 93% from January 1st to December 31st – this means they almost doubled within the same calendar year. It was too good to be true – or too good to be sustainable. In a “bubble model” unfortunately well tested by the “dot.com” then “real estate”, a sudden acceleration of prices is the omen for the impending crash! Until 2003, many believed the uptrend could last forever. But 2004 showed to the savvy professionals that this was unsustainable. Harry and Katrena Plumblee, REALTORS with Anchor Realty, did discourage their clients from purchasing (and were encouraging them to sell) as early as the summer of 2004. They were right; they were wise; and they were honest. Few can boast of these three qualities. Then, the Titanic hit the iceberg. For the doomed ship, the fatidic date was April 12, 1912. For the island real estate market, it was April 1, 2005. Bad things happen in April might one conclude!
And the 2010s are here. The beginnings of the decade were not glorious: few real estate sales; serious doubts concerning property values; and a grim economy. The explosion on April 20th, 2010 (note: another April catastrophe!) of an oil-drilling platform, BP’s Blue Water Horizon, served as the perfect symbol of these new times: the explosion of a dream, and having to deal with the remnants of this dream. Starting in late 2012, the real estate market began showing signs of recovery. Since 2015, the volume of transactions has increased substantially; and prices have shown stability (a plus when we know where absurd increases led us). The crossing of the desert did last 7 years and 7 months (and possibly 7 days!) – it was very long and painful to many. Hopefully, we have now reached the Promised Land!
The 2018 and beyond. What is in stock for our future? Projections are always tempting. We always tend to make the same mistake, in projecting the past into the future. Big mistake indeed, for Fate has infinite ways to surprise us, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst! Who could have “projected” in the 1920s that Popham’s hubris would lead to a classified site commandeered by the U.S Military twenty years later? Who, in the nineteenth century, would have inferred from what was then a sensible attitude to stay away from the sun, one day vacationers would pay premium dollars to roast under the rays of the same sun? Therefore, how can we look at the future? Let us attempt to underscore a few elements that may play a crucial role:
– Tourism: The Ocean (or Gulf) and quality beaches represent a dream for many inland dwellers. This dream is likely to remain. This might be the strongest base for optimism.
– Seafood: the past twenty years have witnessed a gradual decrease in the seafood industry. This can be attributed to a plurality of factors. These factors include the incremental acidification of Oceans worldwide resulting in changes in marine life habitat; its consequences are global (not only Florida) and seem to bring about a dwindling oyster production. Also, some species threatened by overfishing. On a more positive note; the sea will always be the necessary reservoir for seafood; the specialties that make us famous today (oysters, grouper, scallops, shrimp, etc.) may come out of fashion tomorrow; yet, the need for seafood should remain, and it can take many different faces.
– Agriculture; our pristine land, with ample water supply, and rich soil in numerous places, can also bring about a new asset, hitherto underexploited, agriculture. This should obviously take place, not on the island, but rather on the hinterland – but in the island’s proximity.
Therefore, in conclusion, optimism seems warranted despites the customary ups and downs of the economy…
The island is comprised of two large State Parks: one to its far east; the other one to its far west. The middle area is developed. It covers approximately twelve miles in length (east-west; with beach and bay frontage) by half a mile as an average (north-south).
The three main developable areas of the island are:
– at the center, the “Gulf Beaches”. They are the oldest subdivision there. Platted in the 1950s, before the bridge was built, they include the commercial area at the center (roughly 25 acres) and mostly 1/3-acre single family residential lots spreading eastward and westward for about two miles. They are the necessary point of entry to the island. This is where all of the commercial amenities are located. Driving through the Gulf-Beaches takes us back in time, for many of the houses there, made of concrete blocks and built on a concrete slab, take us back to a different era, the 1960s.
– to the west, the “Plantation”. It is a private gated community with approximately one thousand residential lots (most of one acre). No commercial activity is permitted in the Plantation. Amenities include: a luxurious clubhouse with a community swimming pool, tennis courts, jogging and bicycling trails, walkways to the beach, and a 3,339-foot paved airstrip in excellent condition.
– to the east, the “East End Tracts”. The East End is somewhat of the Frontier within the island. It attracts artists and free-thinkers. The densities are similar to those of the Plantation (1 unit per acre). The bayside is densely forested. The beaches are deep and gorgeous.
Elevations range between 28-feet and sea level. The island is oriented east-west, with a noticeable counter-clockwise rotation, promoting fabulous sunrises on the beachside and unforgettable sunsets on the bay side.
Click here to read The Story of St. George Island.
ATTRACTIONS & FESTIVALS
We have two attractions that are available 24/7;
– The beach: voted among the Top 10 U.S. Beaches almost every year.
– Fishing: among the most abundant and varied in the U.S.
Some are cyclical;
– First weekend in March: “St. George island Chili Cook-off”
– Every full moon: “Sunset/Full Moon Climb at the Lighthouse”
– Fourth of July: Fireworks
– First weekend in August: “Kingfish Shootout”
– Second weekend in August: “SGI Sizzler 5k Race”
– Check also the many festivals held (almost weekly) in Apalachicola…
Vacationers can stay in one motel (The Buccaneer Inn) or in a boutique hotel (The St. George Inn). In addition to the hotel rooms, over one thousand houses are offered for rent – many beachfront – ranging in size from one to eight bedrooms.
The island offers a rather complete support system with one large grocery store; two convenience stores; many restaurants; oyster bars; ice-cream shops; beach stores; and clothing stores. The island caters well to tourists with bicycle and jet-ski rentals; plus, many charter fishing captains; and even an eco-tours provider.
Three churches are present: A Roman Catholic mission across from, and courtesy of, the Blue Parrot Restaurant (Mass at 8:30 AM on Sundays); a First Baptist Church; and a United Methodist Church. All three are in the central commercial area.
The presentation of the island would be incomplete without a well-deserved tribute to Jay Abbott, the Fire Chief, who has been instrumental in making the SGI Volunteer Fire Department an example of efficiency and dedication. Today, several women and men serve around the clock to ensure that everyone on the island is safe. Priceless!