There are so many great beaches in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit several. But my favorite beach will perhaps always be St. George Island, Florida. Not only is it a great beach, but we have so many family stories and memories there (my family has been going since before I was born) and it will always feel a little bit like home. We love St. George Island because it’s a low-key beach with no high-rises. But there are still things to do on St. George Island to add some extra fun to your trip!
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Where is St. George Island?
St. George Island is located on the Florida panhandle in Franklin County. It is a barrier island near Eastpoint, Florida.
For some distance references, it’s about a 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Tallahassee, Florida, and about a 15 minute drive from Apalachicola, Florida.
Things To Do on St. George Island
Hang Out on the Beach
This is, of course, the most obvious thing to do on St. George Island: have a beach day!
St. George Island has 22 miles of gorgeous beaches. And because the island is not too built up (i.e. you won’t find multi-story high-rises here) the beaches tend to be relatively uncrowded. (There are some places that tend to be a bit more crowded, such as the center of the island and the few areas with condos and townhouses.)
A few tips for having fun on St. George Island beaches:
- Watch for marine life in the ocean. There can be jellyfish and sting rays close to shore, so keep an eye out. But also watch for fun marine life — we usually see dolphins fishing off shore every day we’re there!
- Wear sunscreen! The sun can burn you quickly! (My recent favorite: this delightfully light and coconut-scented spray.)
- Be prepared for rain, especially in the summer. Rainstorms can pop up frequently along the beach. If you see lightning or hear thunder, be sure to get off the beach.
- Watch for turtle nests. During the summer and fall months, turtles next along St. George Island. If you see an small square of the beach marked off with stakes and neon-colored tape, don’t disturb it! It’s a turtle nest!
Have Fun With Your Dog on the Beach
St. George Island is one of the handful of beaches in Florida that allows dogs on the beach, and there are plenty of rental properties on the island that allow you to bring your canine companions on vacation.
A few things to know about bringing your dog to the beach:
- Dogs must always be on leashes (per Franklin County rules).
- Always clean up after your dog.
- If you are visiting the state park, be sure to read up on their rules, as dogs may not be allowed in all areas of the state park.
- If your dog is doing a lot of swimming, make sure they always have access to fresh water. Dogs can be vulnerable to salt toxicity if they drink too much salt water.
One of our favorite things to do in St. George Island is to go kayaking. We always rent a kayak (or two) for the week. Many rental properties come with beach equipment credits that you can use toward kayak rentals.
St. George Island is where I have seen the most sea life while out kayaking, including sting rays, dolphins, and jellyfish. Be sure to keep your distance from sea life; you should not pursue sea life and should remain 50 yards away from dolphins. (Although from personal experience I will say that this can be hard to do when they are the ones swimming close to you. Just remember it is all about safety for both you and dolphins, so keep an appropriate distance as best you can.)
There are several companies on St. George Island you can rent kayaks from, including Journeys of St. George Island, Island Outfitters, and Jolly Roger. If you have a credit through your rental house, the rental company will take care of your rentals through one of the local vendors, including dropping it off and picking it up at your rental house.
One great way to experience St. George Island is to ride your bike along its miles of coast. There is a 6-mile paved bike trails that runs from the State Park to The Plantation (the gated community on the island, and yes I’m aware the name needs help). If you are staying in The Plantation, there are also plenty of bike friendly paths running the length of the rest of the island.
You can bring your own bikes on vacation with you, or you can rent from a vendor on the island. Journeys of St. George Island, Island Outfitters, Island Adventures, and Jolly Roger all offer bike rentals. Again, if you are staying in a rental property that comes with a beach equipment rental credit, you can use that credit to rent bikes.
Climb the Cape St. George Light
In the center of the island, you’ll find the Cape St. George Light. You can visit the small museum and gift shop and climb the lighthouse for a spectacular 360 degree view of the island.
The Cape St. George Light actually has an interesting history. It was first built in 1833 on Little St. George Island (the island across the cut at The Plantation end of St. George Island), but had to be rebuilt multiple times since. It finally collapsed for good in 2005, and in 2008 it was reconstructed on St. George Island and opened to the public.
In the summer, the lighthouse is open everyday except for Thursday, most days from 10-5, but from 12-5 on Sundays. Be sure to check their website for hours before you go. The cost to climb the lighthouse is $5 for adults and $3 for kids 7-12. Kids must be at least 40 inches tall to climb. And note that there are 92 stairs plus a ladder through a somewhat narrow hole to get to the top.
Visit St. George Island State Park
On the east end of the island you’ll find the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. Here you can find undeveloped beaches to enjoy along the Gulf, or explore the marshes and nature trails on the bay side. There are also campsites available, biking trails, geocaching, and more.
Day use for the park is $6 per vehicle. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown every day.
Charter a Boat
If you’re interested in getting out in Gulf of Mexico, you can charter a boat either to take your family on a boat trip or to go deep sea fishing. There are multiple charter options to choose from on St. George Island. Like so many I’m not even going to try to name them all here, but you can find a great list on Trip Advisor. Many charters offer a variety of options including deep sea fishing, sunset cruises, dolphin cruises, and opportunities to explore surrounding islands.
Planning a trip to the Gulf Coast? You might also like these fun things to do in Cape San Blas, FL!
If you’re going to St. George Island, you can’t NOT eat seafood.
Apalachicola Bay, the bay at St. George Island, has for years been famous for their oysters. Unfortunately, due to both overharvesting and climate change, the oyster population has been decimated. There are currently efforts underway to restore the population, but in the meantime oysters are being farmed nearby.
If you’re looking for oysters, we always go to Paddy’s Raw Bar. But there is so much other great seafood to try too (I always get a grouper sandwich at some point while I’m at the beach).
Eat Sweet Treats
If you’re looking for a sweet treat on your St. George Island vacation, I have a couple of recommendations even for such a small island!
First of all, you’ll want to get Weber’s Donuts for breakfast. They are the best cake donuts I’ve ever had probably, and the line each morning proves how good they are. For real. There’s a line and you’ll want to get there early. And bring cash.
If you want some ice cream, be sure to visit Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream in the center of the island.
One of our favorite things to do when we’re in St. George Island is to spend a morning in Apalachicola. This small bayfront town is just about 20 minutes away from St. George Island and features plenty of restaurants and shops.
We love wandering through the shops, getting ice cream at Apalachicola Chocolate Company, and eating seafood at The Apalachicola Seafood Grill.
Bonus for book lovers — be sure to check out Downtown Books and Purl. This tiny store houses a hand picked selection of books plus yarn for your knitting needs.
While St. George Island may be a quiet beach (which is honestly exactly why we love it), there are still ways to pack fun into your vacation beyond the beach with some of these things to do on St. George Island!
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