Apalachicola is centered in a stretch of over 100 miles of beautiful, pristine beaches. Starting to the East, you will find Alligator Point, from there a chain of four islands protects the coast: Dog Island, St. George Island, Cape St. George and St. Vincent Island. The west is anchored by Indian Pass and Cape San Blas. There is water everywhere. If you like natural, uncrowded beaches, this is a perfect place. Spend a week in Apalachicola and visit a different beach everyday!
Alligator Point:Alligator Point offers both protected boating in the Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve and deep water fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Alligator Point Yacht Basin is a full-service marina conveniently located on Alligator Point. At the eastern end of Alligator Point, the area known as Bald Point is a naturalists’ paradise. Tidal marshes along northwestern Bald Point offer unobstructed views over a flat terrain of needle rush and saw grass, and provide rich feeding grounds for land and seabirds such as bald eagles, osprey and migrating falcon and is a draw for gallinules, tricolor herons, limpkins, anhinga, nesting yellow-crowned night herons, pied-billed grebes, and great egrets. This is the location of the Bald Point State Park. The park offers a multitude of land and water activities. Coastal marshes, pine flatwoods, and oak thickets foster a diversity of biological communities that make the park a popular destination for birding and wildlife viewing. Every fall, bald eagles, other migrating raptors, and monarch butterflies are commonly sighted as they head south for the winter. Bald Point offers access to two Apalachee Bay beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Other activities include canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and hiking. Facilities include a fishing dock and picnic pavilions.
Carrabelle Beach: Beautiful white sand saltwater beach for swimming and fishing; handicap accessible restrooms and showers; grills and picnic pavilions for family gatherings. The beach facilities are renowned for their retro look – a throw back to Florida’s mid century beach pavilion style. Access is just west of the Carrabelle Bridge on Gulf Beach Road. Close to acres of grass beds, this beach offers superb fishing especially in the summer and fall months. But most folks like this lovely stretch of sand for its beauty and tranquility.
Dog Island:Dog Island is the smallest inhabited island of the chain of four Franklin County barrier islands. It is located at the eastern end of the county, just offshore from where the Crooked River merges into the Carrabelle River and then into St. George Sound. This island is small at 6.8 miles in length, accessible only by boat, ferry or airplane.
The island was discovered by the French in 1536 although historians say the island has some evidence of human presence dating back as early as 8,000 years ago. The discovery of a 9th century canoe is a testament to prehistoric mariners on the island. Dog Island received its namesake from the French supposedly because of the island’s shape – it resembles a crouched dog – other history accounts say the island is so named because wild dogs were found on the island and that early ships put their common sailors - known as dogs - on the islands before docking on the mainland so they could not jump ship.
St. George Island: St. George Island Beaches. St. George Island is the largest of the county’s barrier islands, measuring approximately 30 miles in length. The width of this narrow band of sand varies from one-quarter mile to just over a mile. At its peak, the island measures a full 12 feel above sea level. The island is home to about 360 fulltime residents and seasonal guests.
St. George Island is one of the last inhabited, yet unspoiled, islands of Florida. The east end of the island is occupied by Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, the 1,926-acre park features picnic areas with bathhouses, boardwalks, observation decks, nature trails and camping facilities. Since 2011, the St. George Island’s State Park beaches have been ranked among the Top 10 in the country! The rest of the island features low density, high nature-friendly development in a relaxed coastal environment. Most recently noted for its award-winning beaches and historic lighthouse, St. George Island is Franklin County’s premier beach destination for those seeking natural beauty without the big crowds. While you’re on the island, visit the historic St. George Island Lighthouse and Museum, rent a kayak and paddle the quiet bay inlets, pitch a tent at the St. George Island State Park campground, grab a fishing pole and try your luck from the shore, pier or boat or take a hike along coastal wooded trails. You could also just do nothing and relax in the surf and soak up the salt.
St. George Island is the only barrier island in Franklin County that is accessible by bridge. A six mile bridge connects the island to the mainland. Portions of the island’s original bridge remain and serve as great fishing piers for area anglers.
Cape St. George: Little St. George Island Beaches. Little St. George Island lies just to the west of St. George Island. This three square mile island was once part of its larger brother until the mid 1950s when the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers cut a permanent pass through the western end of St. George Island to assist vessel navigation. Today, Little St. George Island is owned by the State of Florida, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection and operated as the Cape St. George State Reserve. The reserve’s remoteness and wilderness provides visitors a unique opportunity to explore a remnant of Florida’ original barrier island landscape. The island is accessible only by boat. Little St. George Island is the site of the area’s first two lighthouses, built in the early 1800s to help early mariners navigate area waters. Powerful storms and erosion destroyed the first two early lighthouses and a third was constructed in 1852 where it stood until 2005 when years of storm and wave action finally toppled into the Gulf. Pieces of the original lighthouse were recovered by area history enthusiasts and a replica of the original lighthouse was completed in 2006 where it stands today along with a museum depicting island history.
St. Vincent Island: Located at the county’s westernmost border, St. Vincent Island is a 12,300-acre undeveloped barrier island owned by the Federal Government and managed as a National Wildlife Refuge. The triangular-shaped island is nine miles long and four miles wide at the east end. The island is a haven for endangered wildlife including bald eagles, loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles and migrating wood storks. Alligators, feral hogs, deer, red wolves and dozens of bird species also populate the island.
The island has a rich and varied history. Pottery shards that have been found on the island indicate that Native Americans inhabited the island as early as the year 240. Franciscan friars doing missionary work with the Apalachee Indians named the island St. Vincent in 1633. Creeks and Seminole Indians inhabited of the island in the 1750’s. During the Civil War, a small fort called Fort Mallory was built presumably to defend West Pass. In 1868 local entrepreneur George Hatch purchased St. Vincent Island. His grave is the only marked grave on the island and can be found west of the cabin with a fence around it. In 1908, Dr. Ray Pierce, a New York “pharmaceutical entrepreneur” best known for his marketing success of the health tonic “Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery” purchased the island. During his ownership, Pierce imported old world game and used the island as a private hunting preserve. The Sambar deer, an elk from India, acclimated to the island terrain and remains on the island today. He also raised beef cattle which were sold to the Apalachicola market. The island continued to be used as a private hunting preserve until until 1968 when it was sold to the Nature Conservancy which later sold it to the federal government. Today, St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge offers visitors many activities, such as kayaking, fishing, hiking and biking. The island is only accessible by boat. Regularly scheduled tours of the island are conducted by the Supporters Group of St. Vincent Island. Contact the St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge Office for information. (850-653-8808).
Indian Pass: “The Pass” is celebrated most for fishing, lagoon oysters and an incredible variety of wildlife. Apalachicola Bay flows into the Gulf at the tip of Indian Pass Peninsula creating a conflux of fresh and saltwater, making it one of the most fertile estuarine areas in the world. Just across the tip of the peninsula lies the primitive shore of St. Vincent Island, a national wildlife refuge, encompassing over 12,000 acres of protected habitat. Stop by the Indian Pass campground to find out about local eco-excursions to St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge as well as charter fishing, kayak and bike rentals.
Cape San Blas: Cape San Blas is a 17-mile long barrier peninsula, curving around St. Joseph Bay offering playful surf and white sand beaches on the Gulf side and smooth, shallow water on the Bay side. The Cape is known for its clear, sometimes blue, sometimes green water and low, gentle surf. Families who vacation on the Cape choose this spot for both its beauty and its seclusion. Drag a chair to the beach with a book, throw a line to the surf, or comb the shore for treasures. Scattered with shells, the sand in this quiet paradise is super soft and sparkling white.