Our Favorite Activities (and a few we want to try)
Page Includes: Scalloping, Horseback Riding, Bicycling, Surf Fishing, Charter Fishing, Boating & Boat Rentals, Eco tours, Kayaking, Canoeing, Snorkeling, Golf, Shopping, Cruise Boat Tours, Diving, Special Events & some miscellaneous ideas!
For ALL Upcoming Festivals & Special Events in & around Cape San Blas, FLA check our Facebook page.
See a video we put together from our Spring Break 2011 Trip: Cape San Blas - What Kind of Cape Escape Do You Need?
Go horseback riding right on the Cape San Blas beach. Imagine riding on the beach at sunset—it’s breathtaking (very romantic & the kids love it too!!) There are several companies and they bring the horses to Salinas park, about 1 mile past the C30 junction on the Cape. We recommend: Two-Bit Stable Horseback Riding: Kymber Lewandowski 850-227-4744.
You can also call Broke A Toe at 850-899-RIDE. Enjoy a moonlit ride on a full moon, sunset ride, wagon rides or lessons!
Apalachicola oysters are world famous! Join the native guides of Book Me a Charter and go catch the freshest oysters in the world on your own oyster boat!
An 8 mile bay side and beach side bike trail is now open along Cape San Blas Road (on Cape San Blas! It runs from Salinas Park to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park! You will also find 20 miles of bike lanes between Panama City & Port St. Joe on Highways 98 & C-30. It's a great area to bike as the roads are flat and smooth! Riding in the State Park is a lot of fun---be sure to get off & explore on the paths & the beach and bay! Bring a picnic lunch & make a day of it!
Bike Rentals are available at Scallop Cove located ON Cape San Blas!
There is wonderful fishing in the area—from the shore, from a boat, in the ocean or bay or one of the fresh water ponds in Barrier Dunes! The waters of the Apalachicola Bay & the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to Mexico Beach are know to be among the richest in marine life in the world due to the nutrients carried down on the Flint, Chattahoochee, Oclocknee, St. Marks & Apalachicola Rivers! What can you catch?
Fish 'N Xpress 49 Passenger Party Fishing Boat. Leaves out of Port St. Joe Marina. Wednesday - Sunday 9:30 - 4:30 Bottom Fishing. Shark Fishing 3 1/2 hour trips (Seasonal, catch and release) and Sunset Dolphin Cruises! Call 850-227-8200 for more information!
If you would like a fishing guide, there are quite a few to choose from! Here are just a few places you can try:
- Book Me A Charter Join us for a fun filled day on the water! Do you prefer Inshore fishing in the Apalachicola or Port St. Joe Bay, or Offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico? Local and Native to the area, this is our backyard. We offer both full and half day charters. We are a family friendly guide service. Give us a call 850-653-2622 we would love to hear from you. ** See their monthly on-line fishing report! Our family has been out with Captain Dwayne and we can guarantee a great day! Be sure to say hello if you join them for your fishing adventure--both in shore & off shore. We plan to go floundering & oystering with them next! Thanks for a great day Sandra & Dwayne. The Jackson Family April 2006-10. ** Our highest recommendation! The Carswell's (May 2009): "Dwayne, with "Book Me a Charter" had us as guests for 2 trips! He is great and I would highly refer him to anyone. He worked very hard with us and it was greatly appreciated. We will use him again." "Captain Dwayne is the BOMB...had such a good time I can't tell you..." The Knop's (Aug. 2009)
- Fishing Port St. Joe with Captain Gary Goodrich. Fishing, sightseeing, eco tours and boating makes Port St Joe top on the list for a "real Florida" vacation. Call Captain Gary Goodrich at 850-229-3474.
- Tall Tales Fishing with Captain Tim Harvey who was born and raised in the Apalachicola and St. Joseph Bays. He has over 30 years experience catching the inshore species in the Forgotten Coast area, including Redfish, Trout, Shark, Tarpon and Tripletail. See our website for more details!
Seahorse Water Safaris. 850-227-1099. RENT YOUR OWN SAILBOAT. Rents 12' Bravo sailboats with furling sail and they are very easy to sail. They also offer sailing with Captains as well! Great service! Open March 15th - October 31st.
CAPE SAN BLAS LIGHTHOUSE
Open from tours Wednesday - Saturday from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. You can enjoy a trip to the top of the lighthouse on full moon nights ($5 and 16 years and over). The lighthouse also has a giftshop. 850-229-1151
See our comprehensive Golf Page for details and more courses from Panama City to Tallahassee!
St. Joe Bay Country Club offers an 18-hole championship golf course located along the beautiful St. Joseph Bay--10 minutes away. Visitors are welcome. 850-227-1751.
St. James Bay Country Club is an 18 hole, resort-style course. 850-697-9606.
Wildwood Country Club - 18-hole, PAR 72 course at 3870 Coastal Hwy in Crawfordville. 850-926-4653.
Putt n Fuss Fun Park: If your "short people" feel the need to play putt putt, try Putt n Fuss in Eastpoint!
You can enjoy a golf cart in and around Barrier Dunes by calling St. Joe Rent-All at 850-227-2112
St. Joe Bay and the Gulf both offer great snorkeling! If you don’t have your own equipment you can buy or rent what you need at Scallop Cove or The Trading Post, both on Cape San Blas! You can walk straight out from the shore or take a boat out in the ocean or the bay! You can book a snorkel trip, among other things, with Seahorse Water Safaris.
The Seven Hills to the Sea Bicycle Tour is a 283 mile loop around the "Panhandle". Each day you have one of Florida's beautiful state parks as your destination. These Parks are all equipped with campgrounds featuring all of the amenities, including showers!
CRUISE BOAT CHARTERS
Seahorse Water Safaris. 850-227-1099. Port St. Joe Marina
"We took a sunset cruise and a snorkeling trip at Seahorse Water Safaris in the Port St. Joe Marina. The owners were a lot of fun and educated us on the different life in the ocean." Tina Theobald, Guest 5/05
Windcatcher Sailing Charters. Apalachicola. 850-653-3881
Available on the beach behind the El’ Governor Motel in Mexico Beach.
KAYAKING, CANOEING, BOATING
St. Joseph Bay is an outstanding place for new or experienced boaters alike since the waters are so calm! You may see sting ray, horseshoe crab, blue crab, starfish, redfish, mullet, live shells or schools of bait fish. In the deeper channels around Black's Island you frequently see bottle-nosed dolphin or sea turtles. If you are bringing your own boat - St. Joseph Peninsula State Park has a boat ramp and it's right outside the gates to Barrier Dunes! We love taking a boat out to the tip of Cape San Blas & anchoring just off the beach & exploring the coast--we always find lots of "treasures"!
Need a boat rental?
- Check out Happy Ours Kayak & Canoe Outpost is located directly on St. Joseph Bay (AKA Cape San Blas!) & offers guided & unguided trips, & kayak sales. They specialize in guided eco-tours by a certified Florida Master Naturalist in Coastal Systems. Their guided snorkeling trips are fantastic as they introduce you to the underwater world & important habitat of saltwater bays. If you are a first-time scalloper, a guided snorkeling trip is a must to find out where & how to collect & clean these tasty morsels. Kayak fishing is the fastest growing segment of the kayaking sport & the lush grass beds of St. Joseph Bay is a haven for trout and redfish, while the sand flats attract flounder. Happy Ours is fully equipped with expert guides & fishing kayaks. Paddling instruction is offered free with all rentals, & delivery to other launch sites is available by request. Stop by and say hello to Dan and Debbie & don’t forget to visit “Regent” & “Lizzie” & “Flopsy” at their petting zoo! Happy Ours has added PADDLE BOARDS as an option now! Wee their website for more info!
"The girls haven't stopped talking about Happy Ours & Dan, the man who helped us with the canoe in the bay. It was just a wonderful time. " Crystal Culp, Guest 4/07
- Seashorse Water Safaris - Rents kayaks, Pontoon Boats, Runabouts and does a variety of trips. NOTE from the Jackson's: We love taking out a pontoon boat in the bay for a whole day--fish, snorkel, watch the dolphins play, visit the tip of the Cape where there are no roads for the last 7 miles--it's pristine! They even have a pontoon boat that will pull a tube! Don't miss a day on the bay while you're on the Cape!
- Scallop Cove - Great folks here and right on the Cape! They will deliver a kayak or canoe (or most anything you need to rent rent) directly to your Barrier Dunes Rental and pick it up at the end or your stay!
Family Fun and Great Eating! You can do this on the beach and in the bay--one of our favorite places is at the end of Indian Pass, but you can go crabbing on Cape San Blas or just about anywhere! One method is to use a crab cage--this is great for catching a LOT of crabs, but not near as much fun as crabbing with a string and a chicken neck! You can get a crab cage at Scallop Cove or Cape Escape II (Barrier Dunes 91) has one available for your use (if you choose it as your rental!!)
What you will need:
- Fishing line, string or twine
- Chicken Necks (any part of the chicken really)
- Stick/pole or something to secure the line to
- A long handle net (not too long or it gets in the way)
- Bucket that will hold water and is deep enough the crabs can’t crawl out of. Deep cooler works too!
- A family ready to have some fun!
My kids look forward to crabbing each time we go to the beach almost as much as the beach itself! We stop at the Piggly Wiggly on the way through Port St. Joe and buy some chicken necks or wings and freeze them—we freeze them after each time and use them all week.
We have the bases of palm fronds that we use for sticks and have the string (about 25 ft) already tied to them and wrapped around the fat end of the palm branch because it means less wrapping!
Gather up your gear and a few drinks and snacks and pick your favorite spot! We like the end of Indian Pass so far, but have heard success stories from St. Joseph State Park, the surf in front of Barrier Dunes on a calm day, the Stump Hole on Cape San Blas (the skinny part of the Cape with the rock wall) and the last Bridge before you get to Indian Pass Raw Bar (don’t get in water here—alligators are a possibility).
Throw your line out about 15 feet & wait a few minutes! When you pull the line a little and feel some extra weight—he’s there! Pull him in slowly and have a net waiting! Scoop him up and put it into your bucket of water!
When you get home—only cook the live ones. All you do is drop them into boiling water with Old Bay Seasoning and wait for it to boil again. They’ll turn pink—a lot like cooking shrimp! Dump them out and dinner is ready!
For your convenience there is a large crab pot, crab “crackers” and “pickers” available at The Cape Escape I and II! You can see a picture of a great crab catch at the bottom of this page! Her "crab feast" can be see at the bottom of The Cape Escape II page!
Scallop season runs from July 1 to September 10 each year. If you can swim, float or walk-since you can go 2 miles or more in a foot or 2 of water, you can scallop. Scalloping is a perfect activity for families because scallops are found in shallow, grassy areas making them easy targets for kids!
What You’ll Need:
- FL Saltwater Fishing License. Not needed if you are not using mask and snorkel. You can purchase one by calling 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA or http://www.floridaconservation.org./ You can also pick one up in Scallop Cove on Cape San Blas!
- Regulation Dive Flag (must be flying before anyone gets into the water, even if wading out from shore!) --we did provide dive flags, but they kept disappearing, sorry. You can rent them or buy them at Scallop Cove right on Cape San Blas, FL.
- Snorkel Gear - Not required, but helpful!
- Mesh Bag - To put all those scallops in!
- Boat - not required as you can walk out from the Bay side beach of the State Park! We used kayaks and had lots of fun!
Once you have everything you need, get your boat, or wade into the water. Once you see a few scallops lying on top of the sea grasses, start collecting. Be sure to store the scallops on ice immediately after harvesting. This opens the shells & makes cleaning easier.
You are allowed 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or 1 pint of scallop meat per day. Depending on the number of people on board a vessel, they’re limited to a maximum of 10 gallons of whole scallops in the shell, or ½ gallon of meat on board a vessel at any time.
BE A RESPONSIBLE SCALLOPER…DON’T GO OVER THE LIMIT!
St. Joesph Bay's world famous scallop season begins July 1 and runs through September 10. Most will say the best scalloping is at the south end or head of the bay. The best way to reach these scallops is by boat.
If you would like to book an organized Scallop Trip, contact Seahorse Water Safaris. Or just visit St. Joe Bay...it's easy and good eats!
A guest cleaning scallops on the back porch of The Cape Escape II.
Our kids WERE too young to get certified when we purchased at Barrier Dunes but we're thrilled to say they have been certified by Daly'd Dock and Dive! John & I enjoy diving when we have a chance, but haven’t made it on one of our Cape trips yet...now that our kids can dive we are looking forward to doing a wreck dive or two soon! There are several options for dive charters:
For a great DIVE MAP go to the Seahorse Water Safaris link & click on "Dive Boat Trips".
There are a wide variety of shells and other treasures on both the Cape San Blas beaches and the St. Joseph Bay side of the Cape! I would recommend going down to the Cape San Blas lighthouse area (take your first right after you pass the "stump hole" if you are coming from Barrier Dunes). This area has HUGE shells, especially after a storm!
MASSAGE & PAMPERING!
Riverfront Therapy. Enjoy a relaxing massage! Therapeutic & relaxation massage for stress reduction, pain and fatigue. Light or deep tissue work. Kathy brings her table right to you so enjoy a massage on Cape San Blas in the comfort of your own Barrier Dunes Vacation Rental!
Sassy Nails. 308 Williams Ave., Port St. Joe. 850-229-7009
Complete nail care and tanning services.
Shoreline Skincare & Massage. 315 Williams Ave., Port St. Joe. 850-227-1953
Permanent Make-up, Microdermabrasions, Facials, Waxing, Light Therapy, Sweedish, Deep Tissue and Hot Stone Massage.
The Cut Salon
Providing precision haircuts, custom color, foil, up dos, and waxing. They also offer manicures, pedicures and gel nails. Paula is the massage therapist. She offers relaxation and deep tissue massage. The Cut is located at 140 West First Street, next to BJ Pizza. They can be reached by calling(850) 927-3500.
Kelly Rene's Hair Studio & Day Spa Hair, Nails and Waxing Services. 302 Reid Ave Port St Joe, FL 32456 (850) 229-1113
You are welcome to bring your own. There is a hose under all of our Barrier Dunes rentals to wash off the salt water when you are finished. If you aren't lucky enough to own one, you can rent them behind Toucan’s in Mexico Beach.
Turtle season in Gulf County runs from May 1 to October 31. The Cape San Blas beaches are prime nesting grounds for Loggerhead & Greenback turtles. During the first half of the season, pregnant sea turtles drag themselves up on the Gulf County beaches to lay their eggs. During the second half of the season, thousands of tiny hatchlings hatch and make their way to the Gulf of Mexico! If you see a square area marked off by warning tape, it's a turtle nest! Please stay clear and keep your dog clear! If you take a walk in the evening or early morning, you might be lucky enough to see some!
There are always several nests in and around Barrier Dunes during turtle nesting season!
Seeing sea turtles laying their eggs or seeing the eggs hatch is just one of many great things you can experience at Cape San Blas, FL (note: these are official turtle patrol folks – never touch a sea turtle nest or egg!)
LIVE THEATRE AND MOVIES
Dixie Theatre in Apalachicola has a great calendar of live theatre and movies year around!
I often get asked if there is a workout room at Barrier Dunes, but there is not. If you are interested in staying in shape, and walking, biking, swimming and snorkeling won't do it for you, you can contact Coastal Fitness in Port St. Joe. Located at 2775 Garrison Avenue - Phone 850-229-1900.
You can also enjoy a aerobics and body toning class at the firehouse just down the road from Barrier Dunes 3x a week from November to March. This class is run by Cheryl Bullerdick (a 5 x winter resident of Barrier Dunes). Contact Cheryl Bullerdick for the days and locations! email@example.com or call her at 850-229-2521. This fitness class has gotten rave reviews from those that have attended in the past!
Birding seasons are Fall through Spring! Enjoy Northern Gannet, White and Brown Pelicans, Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Geese, Blue Winged Teal, Bald Eagle, Dunlin, Northern Harrier, Black Bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Royal Tern, Forester's Tern, Caspian Tern, Geese, and America Kestral to name a few!
Port St. Joe
- Amigos. 218 Reid Ave. Latono flavor fresh breads, tortilla, cheeses and a variety of sauces, canned goods, sodas, chips, CDs, shirts, hats and more.
- Bay Artiques. 301 Reid Ave. Art, antiques and collectible curios.
- Beach to Bay Interiors. 414 Reid Ave.
- Ed's Red Hot Suace. 2911 Garrison Ave. Locally made hot sauce and cocktail sauce shipped anywhere in the world.
- Expressions from the Heart Florist and Gift Shop. 200B Reid Ave. Full service florist.
- Frost's Pottery Garden. 2950 W. Why 98. Pottery from around the world, exotic plants, adirondacs and oak rockers. Gift shop has painted glass, copper art, blown glass, jewelry, candles, beach items, handmade baskets, shells, outside rugs and fountains.
- Jospeh's Cottage. 209 7th Street. Home and gift shop.
- Palm Tree Books. 306 Reid Ave. Enjoy coffee and tea as well as new and used books, music and WiFi available.
- Persnickety. 210 Reid Ave. A boutique with gifts, ladies and children's clothes, invitations, pet boutique items & an assortment of unique gifts.
- Petals by the Bay. 208 Reid Ave.,
- Portside Trading Company. 328 Reid Ave. Gifts & decorating items.
- UpTempo Sports & Fitness. 317 Williams Ave. Sports shoes, apparel & accessories by all the top brands.
Apalachicola, Florida (about 25 minutes from Cape San Blas):
- Apalachicola Antique Mall- 118 Market Street, Apalachicola, FL. 850-653-3894. Antiques, collectibles and funky vintage Florida!
- Artemis Gallery in High Cotton Marketplace- 18 Seventh Street, Apalachicola FL. 850-653-8990. Unique gallery featuring exquisite fine art, clothing, accessories and gifts.
- Avenue E- 15 Avenue E, Apalachicola, FL. 850-653-1411. Unique home furnishings and antiques.
- Betsy's Downtown. 67 Commerce St., Apalach. 850-653-1290. A unity bookstore.
- Betsy's Sunflower. 14 Avenue D. Apalach. 850-653-9144. Kitchen, Garden and Gourmet.
- Chez Funk- 88 Market Street, Apalachicola. 850-653-3885. Antiques, gifts and painted furniture.
- Smokehouse Antiques- 16 Ave. E, Apalach. 850-653-3550. Antiques, art, photography, fountains, ironwork.
- The Chestnut Tree- 79 Market Street, Apalach. 850-653-2084.
- Taylor's- 10 Avenue D, Apalach. 850-653-9133. Antiques, collectibles and funky vintage Florida.
- Tin Shed Nautical's- 170 Water Street, Apalachicola, Florida. 850-653-3635.
Mexico Beach, Florida (about 25 minutes from Cape San Blas, Florida):
- Beachwalk - Beach & Giftware. 13252 Highway 98. 850-648-4200. Fine gifts and clothing.
- Driftwood Inn Gifts. 1701 Hwy. 98. 850-648-5126. T-Shirts, and gift items.
- Gulf Food and Gifts. 900-A Hwy. 98. 850-648-5129. Souvenir, beach beach wear and accessory needs.
- LadyFish. 2802 Hwy 98, Unit B. 850-648-4847. Women's boutique specializing in unique, fun and preppy clothing, jewelry and shoes.
- Two Gulls at the Beach. 2802 Hwy. 98. 648-1122. Souvenirs, t-shirts, ladies and mens resortwear and shoes.
- Prickly Pears Gourmet Gallery. 101 S. 36st St.. 850-648-1115. Gourmet Food, art, chocolate, cheeses, kithenware and cooking classes.
- The Shell Shack. Hwy 98. 850-648-8256. Great shell jewelry and accessories plus a seafood market.
- Toucan's Gift Shop. 812 Hwy. 98. 850-648-5861. A vast assortment of t-shrits, souvenires and givts. They carry swimsuits for all ages.
Traveling with Kids? Jeanni's Journeys has Kids Only trips! We haven't tried it, but it looks fun and we may next trip! They also have family fun adventures, guided tours and enviornmental camps in the summer!
Apalachicola Estuary Tours. 301 Market Street, Apalachicola. 850-653-8687. River Cruises. NOTE: Have hear GREAT reviews about this tour from several guests!
Island Air Tours: 8 airport Road, Apalachicola. 850-653-2222. Air tours and scenic flights.
Shell Island Shuttle. Shell Island is a natural, undeveloped island located in Panama City. It's home to one of the highest concentration of bottle-nosed dolphins and the islands pristine beauty and abundant wildlife make it an enjoyable day! Shuttle, Snorkel package and kayak rentals.
Gulf Marine Specimen Lab. Learning fun for the whole family. Aquarium touch tanks. In Panacea FL. 850-984-5297
Scooter Rentals: Coastal Scooter Rental 850-927-4011 or Jolly Roger Beach Shop 850-927-2999
Please visit the Area Events Calendar (includes Festivals, Special Events, Fishing Tournaments etc.)
Marlies Quattrochi, March 2010
We had a WONDERFUL time at Cape San Blas and we will be back again and again! My girls both said this was their "most fun" vacation ever!
Thomas Dyer, August 2007
Let me tell you that we had a great time. The Cape exceeded my expectations. What a wonderful area full of nature. Everything we enjoyed, the beach, kayaking, boating , marine life, great food and the locals were all so friendly and helpful. I've been tryng to figure a way to obtain a place down there since we left. Anyway, we will definitely return.
We saw a Bald Eagle while kayaking. It was fighting with a Hawk in the air over our heads and dropped a fish. I dubbed it the luckiest fish alive. Anyway, it was an awesome sight. We did the horseback riding on the beach--something I've always wanted to do. We rented a boat and saw an abundance of marine life: dolphins, stingrays, huge jellyfish etc. St. Joseph State Park was beautiful, unspoiled . We were the only ones on the beach and it was very romantic. I could go on, but you already know how great it is. We will be back for sure.
Oh yea, we were out to eat at Sunset Coastal Grill and a prominent local business man saw our car which had "just married" on it and he bought our entire dinner that evening. It was one of the nicest things ever! His name was Mr. Rish--we met him and talked for a while. It was a very kind thing to do and something I will always remember.
NEED THE ACTION OF PANAMA CITY? It's only 50 miles away!
GULF WORLD MARINE PARK:
Need a little more entertainment? Gulf World Marine Park is in Panama City. Park Admission Includes dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows, turtle, shark and alligator exhibits and special programs that include: swimming with a dolphin, trainer for a day and dolphin day camp (RSVP's required for special programs. Gulf World is open daily, rain or shine at 9:00 am. Learn more at Gulf World Marine World or call 850-234-5271.
Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. Opening Spring 2006. Intersection of Front Beach Road, Thomas Dr. and Middle Beach Road in Panama City Beach. 850-230-6113.
Shipwreck Island Water Park: 12201 Middle Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. 1-800-538-7395 or 850-234-3333. Panama City Beach's ONLY waterpark!
Most seasoned winter visitors recommend newcomers get involved in their winter community. Join a club, volunteer at a school or hospital or your church. Noah's Ark is probably the best place for Snowbirds to find interesting activities.
The Snowbird Club sponsored by the Noah's Ark Ministry is one of the oldest and was founded in 1973. Noah's Ark Ministry has some 1000 club members. Winter activities are open to all winter visitors. The club is led and financed by its members, and is for the recreation, fellowship, travel, enjoyment, and worship needs of its members. The member desk is open November through March from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.Noah's Ark is located at:1902 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32417, Tel.: Local 950-234-6062 Toll Free: 888-438-5561.
We have spent many wonderful days on St. Joseph Bay! Scalloping, kayaking, watching dolphins, snorkeling, fishing or just enjoying the beautiful bay and view of the end of the Cape!
Kathy Maguire, an August 2005 Guest went Crabbing--obviously with a lot of success! You can see the feast on the bottom of The Cape Escape II page!
Thanks to theGulf County Tourism Development Council for several of these pictures.
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