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You’ve likely never heard of St. George Island, and that’s half the charm! This barrier island sits along Florida’s “forgotten coast” in the Florida panhandle and it’s often overshadowed by more popular destinations like Destin and Panama City Beach.
But those in search of a quiet getaway with great beaches, lucrative fishing holes, and more wildlife than tourists would be hard pressed to find a better spot than St. George Island. Known for its natural beauty (no skylines in sight!), uncrowded beaches, and unspoiled nature reserves, this 22-mile barrier island is a place where you can truly get away from it all. Here are some of the best things to do in St. George Island, Florida.
1. Visit The Beaches
Is there a better way to experience island life than by sidling up to a stretch of soft sand and soaking up the sun? St. George Island has a pristine collection of beaches – basically all 22 miles of coastline along the island is one big beach!
Families can enjoy all the classic beach day activities on St. George Island, including sand castle building, swimming, and beachcombing. Many beaches on the island are pet-friendly, so you can really bring the whole family! Just be sure to clean up after Fido.
Note that St. George Island is prone to rain showers, especially in the summer. These come quickly and pass through just as swiftly, but if you see looming rain clouds or lightning, you should get off the beach.
2. Explore St. George Island State Park
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the island’s natural bounty, spend a day at St. George Island State Park. Tucked away along the eastern end of the island, this unassuming state park is the longest beachfront state park in the entire state!
Obviously, the pristine beaches here are a huge draw, and you could easily spend a day (or more) chilling on the soft sand, swimming in the crystal clear waters, and kayaking up and down the coastline.
But the beach is just the beginning of the great attributes that St. George Island State Park has to offer. Take to the nature trails to discover glorious vistas of the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay, or explore the park’s marshes and sand dunes for some great birding and wildlife watching opportunities.
3. Charter A Boat
Getting out onto the water is one of the best things to do in St. George Island. There are plenty of ways to explore the coastline, whether you’re paddling along Apalachicola Bay or deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Charter a fishing boat and reel in sheepshead, speckled trout, flounder, whiting, redfish and tripletail from the bay, or go into the gulf to hook fresh catches like snapper, grouper, amberjack, sea bass, mackerel, and mahi-mahi.
If you’re not into fishing, you can book a tour for a sunset cruise or a dolphin watching excursions. There are also several places around the island where you can rent kayaks and stand up paddleboards.
4. Rent Bikes
You can easily explore St. George Island with two wheels thanks to the six miles of well connected trails. The main trail starts at the state park and runs parallel to Gulf Beach Drive, the island’s major road. Mornings and evenings are a great time for cycling thanks to the cooler temps.
After your bike journey, be sure to reward yourself with something sweet – Aunt Ebby’s is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. Come for the big scoops and stay for the incredible views of the Gulf!
You can bring your own bike, or rent one from one of the vendors on the island. Some vacation rental homes even come with bikes or a beach equipment rental credit which can be used to rent bikes from local outfitters.
5. Visit Cape St. George Lighthouse
The historic Cape St. George Lighthouse stood tall against hurricanes, wars, and erosion for over 150 years, but it sadly met its demise in 2005. The town rallied behind this beloved icon, and a replica was built in 2011.
Today, you can once again climb the 92 wooden steps up to the top of the lighthouse and get fantastic views over the Gulf of Mexico. There’s also a museum and a gift shop located on site. The lighthouse is open year round and entry costs $5. Hours vary by season.
6. Relax At Regata Park
For a relaxing day in St. George Island, set up camp at Regata Park. This beachfront park sits along the shores of Apalachicola Bay and is perfect for a leisurely day with family and friends.
You can launch kayaks and canoes, enjoy a picnic at the pavilion, or sit back and watch the myriad of shorebirds circling the area. This is one of the best spots in town to catch a sunset, so be sure to stick around until evening.
7. Take A Day Trip To Apalachicola
One of the best things to do in St. George Island is actually getting off the island and exploring the nearby town of Apalachicola. This charming seaside village sits across the bay, about 20 minutes from St. George Island.
Apalachicola features museums, boutique shops, and plenty of great dining options. The town is famed for its fresh oysters, so be sure to slurp a few down while you’re in town.
You don’t have to travel across the bay to find good food. St. George Island knows how to wine and dine its visitors, especially those who love seafood. Like any good island, St. George offers a bounty of fresh local seafood, plus oceanfront locales with great views.
If you’re looking for fresh seafood, the Paddy’s Raw Bar is your best bet. The Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe is another popular spot, and they have a large menu with plenty of options for seafood lovers and carnivores alike, plus a fun tiki bar with cold beer and colorful cocktails.
If you’re a morning person, you can stop by Weber’s Little Donut Shop for some tasty pastries, then wash it down with a small-batch roasted coffee from Bayside Coffee Co.