Few things are as romantic as a beach sunset with your sweetheart. The sun slips beneath the horizon, the waves roll up on the shore, reflecting the brilliant hues of the last light of day, and—all at once—time seems to stand still. It’s hard not to feel like a love-struck teenager again in those magic hours between day and night, especially in a place as striking as St. George Island, so we’ve gathered our favorite romance spots for sunset seekers.

A classic sunset date is, of course, dinner. On St. George Island, it’s never a matter of choosing whether or not to witness the stunning water surrounding you, but rather choosing between the Gulf of Mexico or Apalachicola Bay. The view from The Blue Parrot’s patio is unparalleled for the Gulf, whereas Paddy’s Raw Bar offers stunning sunsets over the Bay. Back on the mainland in Apalachicola, the no-children policy at Up The Stairs makes it a great spot for a quiet, romantic night out, and their balcony offers a stunning view of downtown and the river.

Another romantic option is a sunset picnic. Pick up some local-caught steamed shrimp (and maybe a bottle of wine!) from the Piggly Wiggly or SGI Fresh Market and then stroll down to the beach. There are plenty of picnic facilities on the public beach, but we recommend doing as the locals do by bringing a blanket or towel. Aside from more options for location, sitting in the sand offers the opportunity to cuddle up and sneak a kiss.

While viewing the sunset from land is always lovely, you can attain a truly magical vantage point from the water. If your honey is on the adventurous side, consider renting a kayak from Journeys of St. George Island or St. George Island Outfitters for an evening on the Forgotten Coast you’ll remember forever.

Located in the middle of the Island, the Cape St. George Lighthouse has become an iconic landmark for St. George Island and the Forgotten Coast as a whole. This defining piece of architecture has a history just as remarkable as the views offered from its summit.

The Island’s original lighthouse was built in 1833 on the western tip of St. George. However, its location was difficult for ships coming from the east to see, so in 1846 it was determined that a new location would be sought out. The following year, Congress appropriated $8,000 to build a new lighthouse two miles to the southeast, repurposing many of the materials from the 1833 lighthouse in the process.

The second light would only last three years. After it was destroyed by a hurricane, construction began on a third structure—a lighthouse “built to last,” with a new location further inland and a foundation of pine pilings driven deeply into the sand in addition to cement walls made tapering from four feet at the bottom to two feet at the top. And last it did—for 153 years.

The next century brought change throughout the world and eventually to the Island’s little lighthouse; in 1949 the Coast Guard replaced the Fresnel lens with an automated light, eliminating the need for lighthouse keepers. Later in the century, the lighthouse bore the brunt of some devastating hurricanes. Hurricane Andrew changed the landscape of the St. George by reclaiming a large part of the surrounding beach in 1992, and three years later, Hurricane Opal moved the lighthouse from its foundation, giving it what would temporarily become its signature lean.

The community rallied around its beloved landmark, raising over $200,000 and restoring it to its former glory by 2002. However, by the spring of 2005, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico had once again reclaimed the structure. In October of that year, the lighthouse collapsed into the Gulf, ending its sesquicentennial watch over the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to the efforts of the St. George Lighthouse Association, a reconstruction occurred at the center of the Island. The St. George Lighthouse we know today opened in 2008, followed by a museum and gift shop in a replica of the Keeper’s House in 2011. You can now climb to the top of the lighthouse any day of the week except Thursday from 10 AM (Noon on Sunday) until 5 PM, or join in on the monthly full moon climb.

Whether you’re so Irish you have Guinness pumping through your veins or you just love a good brew, St. Patrick’s Day at Paddy’s Raw Bar is exactly where you need to be this year on St. George Island. All things Irish come to 240 E. 3rd Street in Eastpoint on March 17th!

Paddy’s goes totally green for St. Patty’s! Green cups, four-leaf clover décor, Irish music and—of course—green beer! Beginning at 11am, the Emerald Isle takes over St. George Island. Paddy’s will serve up the island countryman’s corned beef and cabbage with Irish music going full force from 2pm to 6pm. Live music will pour from an incredible lineup right along with the chartreuse-hued beers ALL DAY LONG. Let the luck o’ the Irish right into your soul at Paddy’s this St. Patty’s Day!

You’ll find good food, great folks, and the greenest celebration the Island’s ever seen on Friday, March 17th, 2017! Have a raucous good time on gorgeous St. George’s most happening hangout until the clock strikes midnight!

Erin Go Braugh, baby! Have a shucking good time at Paddy’s Raw Bar this St. Patrick’s Day!

Check out our available beach and bayside rentals NOW so you can feel like you’ve found your own personal pot o’ gold when it comes to comfy living quarters just down the street from the Paddy’s party! For more info about the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day, visit the Paddy’s Facebook page here.

 

If the St. George Island Chili Cook-Off has you burning to create a bowl of something to warm you during the cool coastal nights, check out this island-inspired take on the classic soul-soother. With fresh Apalachicola seafood and a dash (or several!) of the official hot sauce of St. George, you can fix a dish that might just be worthy of next year’s competition!

Seafood Chili Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 pads butter
  • 2 cups chopped white onion
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 Teaspoons dried oregano
  • 35 oz Italian plum tomatoes, not drained
  • 16 oz clam juice
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Ed’s Red Hot Sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
  • 12 Littleneck clams
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/2 pound grouper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound Bay scallops
  • Fresh cilantro and shredded pepper jack cheese for serving

Seafood Chili Recipe Directions

Heat butter in heavy saucepan over low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook until tender, usually about 15 minutes. Add garlic and oregano, and cook another 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking up large pieces with a spatula. Stir in the clam juice, wine, chili powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.

Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Add clams and mussels. Cover and cook until shellfish open, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any shellfish that do not open. Gently stir in grouper and shrimp. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Add scallops. Cover and simmer until fish is just opaque, about 3 minutes.

Top with cilantro and/or shredded pepper jack then serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

St. George Island is gorgeous year-round, but cooler temps certainly keep most of us out of the water. While you patiently await the spring to bring you a sunny sigh of relief, warm your soul with the St. George Island Chili Cook-Off. Now in its 35th year, this island-favorite event offers something memorable for everyone.

If you’re out to clinch a solid 3.1 mile-jaunt before you get your fill of the finest chili along the Gulf Coast, the Red Pepper 5K Run will be exactly your speed! You’ll take off on Saturday, March 4, at 8 a.m. right in front of the famed Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe on St. George Island. Get a solid sweat in preparation for your feast of a host of taste bud tingling, belly-warming chili from all over the area.

The piece de resistance of the weekend culminates with the 2017 SGI Charity Chili Cook-Off! Beginning at 11 a.m. on March 4, you can savor the flavors of all sorts of chili. From meaty to beany and hades hot to lip-smacking savory, every single bowl of chili you sample is just $3.00. And every red(bean) cent of the chili sold goes straight to the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department! Celebrate the men and women who serve stunning St. George and treat yourself to unforgettable chili of every variety on the Forgotten Coast! As a bonus, stick around that evening for the Mister Hot Sauce/Miss Chili Pepper Competition. All walks of life come to strut their stuff with the hope of earning the coveted plaque commemorating the piquant contest. Even in the dead of winter, this event is sure to heat things up on the Island, so don’t miss a second of the spicy entertainment!

For more information about attending and participating in these events and more, visit stgeorgeislandchilicookoff.com.

Primates and the Forgotten Coast have long been synonymous to area locals. Since the early 1940s when the original Tarzan film was shot in Wakulla Springs, the lore has been that monkeys escaped during filming to set up shop in the woodland areas of the Gulf Coast. And who could blame them? With sugar sand, crystal clear water, and temps that stay agreeable year-round, it should come as no surprise that the ape actors decided to make the vacation from Hollywood a permanent one.

For decades, the legend endured, though the curious creatures remained hidden from plain sight, with only their bellows emanating from the forest serving as the hint to their continued coastal occupation. However, beginning in December 2015, monkey sightings rose to the forefront of Forgotten Coast discussion. The proud owner of a prehensile tail was on the move yet again in the area, this time with a pretty specific craving: Birdseed.

Spotted by a local Carrabelle man at his home in December 2015, the primate helped itself to a serving of seed from the man’s birdfeeder. The monkey ripped the top of the feeder clean off and noshed away, only stopping when the homeowner came outside and startled it. Like a flash, the monkey was gone.

The swinging sensation was on the move. From that December until the summer of 2016, what was determined to be a Rhesus monkey was spotted some 22 times. Two of those sightings were listed as “possible,” and two more—in Panacea and Alligator Point—were verified. Sightings were logged in Sopchoppy, Eastpoint, Crawfordville, Carrabelle, Lanark Village, St. Teresa, Alligator Point, and Panacea—but the real performance occurred at the Carrabelle River. It was there that the monkey put on a death-defying show for 40 onlookers. The creature started with a launch from a Carrabelle bridge to a tall pine tree, then back to the bridge, and finally back into the tree where it launched itself from limb to limb until it disappeared from its captive audience’s sight.

With such a wide span of monkey sightings occurring around the Forgotten Coast, no one can be certain if the monkey acted alone or if more than one primate had come to call the region home. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission urged the public not to try to touch the hirsute beachcomber, instead encouraging folks to report the sightings and note as much detail as they could.

Rhesus monkeys are medium-sized primates that range from 1.5 to 1.7 feet in height and weigh anywhere from 12 to 17 lbs. when fully grown. Though they are primarily herbivores, the monkeys are wild and should not be pursued by human beings. Whether these creatures are descendants of the Tarzan-era thespian bunch or a new breed of coastal critters is unknown. For now, we can assume the primal calls in the Florida forests are much more than the stuff of Forgotten Coast imagination.

We may never know for certain what calls the wild acrobats to the Gulf Coast. Sightings have diminished since the summertime, but just in case, keep your eyes peeled and your birdfeeders guarded!

The Forgotten Coast is the ideal place to create unforgettable memories this holiday season. While you may find you’re less apt to have to bundle up on gorgeous St. George during the winter months, sugar sand makes a lovely winter white backdrop your bare feet will love even in December. Borrow from the natural wonder of the beach around you to set the beach holiday scene even further in your beautiful beach home with these DIY decorating tips:

1)      Create a shell wreath to welcome beach holiday guests to your seaside abode

Collect cockle shells or jagged pieces of sand dollars and affix to a circular foam wreath with a hot glue gun. You can fashion raffia in to a bow to create a cool, rustic accent or go more traditional with bold red and green ribbon cascading off of your newest holiday décor addition.

2)      Compose a mantel with waterfront focus

You can create a special homage to your favorite elements of the Forgotten Coast by scavenging the shore for fascinating finds like tulip shells, angel wings, caditas, boat shells, and starfish. Carefully clean your beach loot off and strategically place on your mantel, weaving greenery between the pieces. Consider gluing the favorite sea shells of each family member to their respective beach holiday Christmas stockings to add a unique, wistful touch reminiscent of the ocean.

3)      Elevate beach holiday ambiance with a little help from the coast

 Mix merry-and-bright with the beach by adding shell accents to your family’s flickering holiday candles. You can place simple, classic votive candles in cleaned oyster shells to build a place setting that puts you right at the beach even when you’re inside. For larger, pillar candles, use a hot glue gun to fasten cockle shells or delicate baby’s ears around the base of the candle. Then, place the candle on a shiny silver plate or create a row of various sized shell-encircled candles on a white wooden tray. This can serve as a special seaside centerpiece for your holiday meal or be placed on end tables to create a lovely glow during your family’s gathering.

4)      Nod to the nautical with knots

Seafaring culture heavily features thick ropes fashioned into knots for various purposes. You can bring a light, littoral touch to your gift wrap by featuring a nautical knot in lieu of ribbon. After your holiday gifts are wrapped and secured with tape, draw rope around the long and shorter sides of the package, creating a T in the center. Then, create a sailor’s knot of your choosing in the center to bring a bit of high seas-style season’s greetings to your loved ones.

 

5)      Build a tablescape of tiny “trees” using beach treasures

Scan the seaside for cone-shaped shells to use as miniature Christmas trees. Build a tree garden of diminutive proportions as a sweet holiday detail. You can even find small dried starfish to punctuate each “tree” as a tiny topper.