Forgotten Coast: Adventuring in “Real Florida”

In between our adventures into the wilderness, we like the wide open beaches and wildlife preserves of northwest Florida.  We prefer the stretch between Mexico Beach to the west, and St. Mark’s to the east, often called the “Forgotten Coast.”  It features all the sugar-white sand beaches the panhandle of Florida is known for, but without the hustle & bustle of the tourist traps.  This particular adventure, we camped at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, with the Gulf of Mexico to our west, and St. Joseph Bay to the east.  My daughter and her hubby live in Panama City, so we got to spend some time with them as well.

St. Joseph Bay
St. Joseph Bay

This particular week, the tides on the Gulf side were very strong, with dangerous rip currents, so we spent more time playing in the bay.  We spent hours upon hours snorkeling, finding scallops, sea snails, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and lots of fish.  It was a first for us, and we are hooked!  We also got to kayak, first near Tyndall Airforce Base, where we kayaked with dolphins in Pearl Bayou, another first.  Then another day we kayaked in St. Joseph Bay, where we witnessed a huge stingray “flying” out of the water, wish I could have gotten that on video!  The campground was nice, just too hot for us in August in a tent, but it was so worth it.

Sunset from the beach of St. Joseph Peninsula
Sunset from the beach of St. Joseph Peninsula

We also took a day trip down to St. George Island, which was the site of our very first trip to Florida, ever.  We absolutely love that island, it has the most amazing beach and quaint community.  We collected shells, starfish, seen cownose rays, crabs, and played in the surf.  Once we left, we took a long ride down through Carabelle and back up through Apalachicola, and surrounding areas. We got stopped in the middle of the road once while a small alligator crossed the road, so cool!  Someday, we’d love to call the Forgotten Coast our home.

My description doesn’t do the area justice.  Pics are pretty, but video captures the experience:

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