The Forgotten Coast is the ultimate place for beachcoming adventures! If you love collecting seashells during your waterfront vacation, you’re in luck – St. George Island, Florida, offers it all. Whether you’re staying in Resort Vacation Properties’ West Gulf Beaches, East Gulf Beaches, St. George Plantation or the East End neighborhood, you’ll enjoy exploring our beautiful sandy shores. Here are some common and rare seashells that you’ll be able to discover and add to your collection from St. George Island.

Common Seashells

When roaming the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll come across a variety of shellfish coverings. Oyster shells are often larger and are marked by a whitish-gray outer coloring. Scallop shells can be found in a variety of colors, and boat-shaped, ark clam shells are plentiful along the coastline. Cockle and broad-ribbed cardita shells are also prominent on St. George Island.

Rare Finds

After a storm, you’re likely to discover more exotic specimens, one of which is the fighting conch. Typically found after windy weather conditions, fighting conch shells are characterized by several spines along the top ridge, and protruding, yet smooth, outer edges. Lightning whelk, fig, olive, pen and baby’s ear shells may also be found on the Forgotten Coast. Rarer yet, the treasured murex, tulip and angel wing shells may wash ashore following a thunderstorm.

Plan Your Shelling Adventure on St. George Island

Bring home one-of-a-kind souvenirs by combing the white sand beaches of St. George Island for seashells during your next vacation. At Resort Vacation Properties, we offer a range of vacation rentals, including beachfront homes, so you can search for both common and rare seashells to your heart’s content. For more information about St. George Island or our rental properties, give us a call at 877-272-8206.

For some, breakfast is just a habit, a quick bite with coffee to get you up and running. For others, it’s a way of life. If you fall into the latter category, you’re in luck—the Forgotten Coast loves a yummy start to the day! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite breakfast spots to check out during your stay on St. George Island.

First up, we have a new addition to the island. Weber’s Little Donut Shop opened just a few months ago, but they’re quickly becoming a favorite of locals and visitors alike. They offer a wide variety of pastries with innovative flavors, like Fruity Pebbles and cookies and cream. But don’t worry about being overwhelmed with options; at just $1 a pop, it’s easy to try them all. It’s not uncommon for there to be a line before they open at 8:00 A.M., so get there early for the most options. And don’t forget cash! Weber’s is a card-free establishment.

Next is more of a St. George Island classic: The Beach Pit. Now in their sixth year, The Beach Pit is the top spot for traditional breakfast, with everything from bagels to crepes. A favorite dish is the signature seafood omelet, which comes with a choice of shrimp or oysters. If you like your breakfast with a little “hair of the dog,” this is the spot for you—The Beach Pit’s full bar starts serving when they open at 7:30 A.M.

Although it’s just across the bridge, the flavors of Apalachicola’s Café Con Leche will transport you to Latin America. The owner, Tamara Suarez, blends Venezuelan classics such as arepas and fried plantains, with classic breakfast dishes to create an experience as unique as the Forgotten Coast itself. Customers rave about their coffee, and, if you take your cup of joe with the digital edition of your favorite newspaper, you’re in luck—Café Con Leche offers free Wifi.

Of course, if you’re more inclined to stay at home for breakfast, that’s an easy option, too. All Resort Vacation Properties come with fully appointed kitchens, right down to coffee filters, and no dress code means pajamas are the perfect attire. Happy breakfasting!

One of the most exciting parts of vacation for endorphin enthusiasts is the chance to switch up our exercise routine. St. George Island is a fitness lover’s dream, with 17 miles of paved bike trails and our greatest resource for adventure—the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, many of our activities are water-based, but one company in particular stands out with its unique offerings.

In just five short years, young entrepreneur Sam Fortunas’ Island Fit SUP has become a fixture on the Forgotten Coast fitness scene. Her mission to spread her love of standup paddle boarding brought her back to the same area where decades before her great-grandparents immigrated to pursue the American Dream by way of sponge diving. That heritage of deep respect for Apalachicola Bay and St. George Island is apparent in her fitness offerings, which all take place outdoors, giving access to pristine surroundings while working up a sweat.

In the way of paddle boarding, Island Fit SUP has a variety of options, making it accessible to every level of fitness and background with the sport. Beginners can get a taste for paddle boarding with lessons covering everything from standing on the board to holding the paddle. Both private and small group lessons are available, ensuring you get lots of one-on-one time with your certified instructor. More experienced paddle boarders will enjoy the signature guided paddleboard excursions and eco-tours, led by St. George Island area experts. You choose the setting: explore the intricate estuary eco-system of Apalachicola Bay or seek out dolphins and sea turtles on the beachfront trips. And anglers will love the challenge of the paddleboard fishing trips!

If you’re looking for a more relaxing way to keep up your fitness regimen while on vacation, Island Fit Sup has you covered with their beach yoga classes. Imagine greeting the day on the beach with a yoga flow, with the waves rolling in sand and the gulls calling overhead serving as the soundtrack to your vinyasa. Soft morning sun caresses your skin, and there’s no need for a mat as a beach towel on the sugar white sand provides all the support necessary for this gentle session. Classes meet at the Lighthouse Public Beach every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from March to September. Private lessons are available. Please bring a beach towel and cash; classes are $15.

Whatever your preferred activity is on the mainland, consider expanding your horizons with Island Fit SUP! You won’t get bored (no pun intended) with this one-of-a-kind way to get out and get active while experiencing gorgeous St. George Island!

August brings soaring temperatures to St. George Island, but that doesn’t deter competitors in the St. George Island Sizzler 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run, held this year on August 5th. The Sizzler is perfect for beach-loving runners—instead of a t-shirt, participants receive a commemorative towel, and the finish line celebration is a sunset beach party at St. George Lighthouse Park complete with seafood and live music. While not required, costumes are strongly encouraged.

The awards, handcrafted by local artist Anne Eason, are as unique as the event, and will be given out to overall male and female participants in the Masters, Grand Masters, Senior Masters, and all standard age group winners.

The Sizzler is appropriately named, as the Forgotten Coast’s heat and humidity in August are a force to be reckoned with. Because of this, we recommend visiting runners adapt to the heat slowly and make sure to hydrate throughout the day leading up to this evening race. A water station will be provided at the halfway point. Organizers also advise to dress as coolly as local laws (and modesty) allow. The event will happen rain or shine, with only lightening as a potential cause for delay.

Sponsored by the Tate’s Hell Track Club, 2017 will be the race’s 20th and final year. All proceeds will benefit the Franklin County Humane Society, a not-for-profit facility in the Tate’s Hell woods from which the Track Club derives its name. The Franklin County Humane Society has been in operation since 1991 and continues to work toward its mission of relieving animal suffering, preventing animal cruelty, eliminating animal over-population, and promoting humane education to enhance the human-to-animal bond.

Registration offers a variety of prices and options, from the $35 Sizzler, which includes a towel, to the $15 Student rate. Discounts are available for military with valid identification. On-Site Registration is available for $40 and will include the towel, if available. All packets include a ticket to the Post-Race Party, and any available extra tickets will be sold for $15 on the day of the race.

There’s nothing quite like celebrating the Fourth of July at the beach. The hot dogs, cold beers, and all around good times we associate with America’s birthday are accompanied by the red of the sunset, the white of the sand, and the blue of the ocean. Apalachicola Bay residents love the holiday so much we celebrate for two days! Here are our favorite ways to spend Independence Day:

If you’re like us and can’t wait for the Fourth, head across the Bay to Apalachicola for the 6th Annual Independence Eve celebration on July 3! The party kicks off at 5 P.M. at Downtown’s Riverfront Park with food, beverages, a parade, and kids’ activities while musical guests Johnny and the Loveseats, featuring Voice contestant Johnny Hayes, rock out on the main stage. The evening finishes with a bang as a fireworks show illuminates the beautiful Apalachicola River.

For the holiday itself, there’s no better place to be than St. George Island! The annual parade welcomes anyone (including visitors!) with a costume or decorated vehicles and encourages all to join in the fun with water guns. Get your golf cart decorated, your trailers hooked up, and your squirt guns filled!

The St. George Island 4th of July Parade will start at 10:00 am in front of The Beach Pit on W. Pine Ave.
The route will proceed east down Pine Avenue, passing Paddy’s Raw Bar and turning right (south) on 3rd St. East.  It will turn right again on E. Gulf Beach Drive to head west and complete the route! Line-up starts at 9:30, with roll-out at 10:00 am sharp. Be safe and we’ll see you there!

Later in the day is the fireworks show, lighting up the sky and reflecting vibrant sparkles of color upon the water and sand. Our favorite spot to watch the show is from the deck at Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe where you can enhance the fireworks with a yummy seafood dinner, specialty cocktails, and live music.

And if you’d rather spend the Fourth of July celebrating America’s natural splendor, look no further than Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park—the go-to spot for kayaking, fishing, and swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The park closes at sundown, so you have all day to play in the sun, sand, and surf!

Check out our available listings for a home-away-from-home to retreat to once the Fourth of July festivities have ended! Our vacation rentals selection is accessible here.

For some, shopping is a chore; for others, it’s the best way to spend a vacation. If you’re in the latter category, we’ve got you covered here along Apalachicola Bay. With a variety of shops in the area, there’s something for everyone. Here are our top picks for shopping spots:

Artemis Gallery and Boutique

Centrally located in downtown Apalachicola’s High Cotton Building is Artemis Gallery and Boutique, one of the Forgotten Coast’s premier art galleries. This Apalach staple specializes in Florida Landscapes and folk art from local or regional artists. Almost every piece is original, but the Gallery and Boutique also carries prints from some of their artists, as well as beautiful boutique clothing, jewelry and accessories, unique gifts, and cards. Stop by anytime—Artemis is open 7 days a week!

Apalach Outfitters

Another option in downtown Apalachicola is Apalach Outfitters, a full-service specialty retail shop. Stop in for men’s and women’s clothing, but stay for all your supplies to enjoy the Forgotten Coast’s natural beauty, with fly- and in-shore fishing gear, paddleboards, and snorkeling supplies! This kid- and pet-friendly store is next to the Dixie Theater in the heart of Apalachicola’s Historic Downtown District.

Riverlily

Did you know Apalachicola has a haven for mermaids? Riverlily is the top spot to pamper the mermaid in your life, with bath and beauty collections from all over the world, as well as fashionable scarves, fabulous socks, fragrant candles, and fun hats. The true star of this shop, though, is the collection of beautiful vintage style earrings, made with hard-to-find antique beads and unique findings. No pierced ears? No problem! Every pair in the shop can easily be converted to clip-ons!

Shop Without Leaving St. George!

Don’t think you have to leave St. George Island to take advantage of great local shopping! With the largest collection of art along the Forgotten Coast and a focus on local artists and fine craftspeople, Sea Oats Art Gallery is a must for any St. George Island trip. Pet-friendly Sadie’s Seahorse is another top choice on the island, specializing in coastal chic with gifts, cards, flowers, and other special St. George Island finds. And if you forget your shades, no worries—Sadie’s is an Oakley distributor! Island Dog is another great option for both local art and quality shades – you’ll find a great selection of Suncloud styles.

For other recommendations, give our team at Resort Vacation Properties a call!

 

Apalachicola Sponges in St. George Island FL – Resort Vacation Properties The Forgotten Coast is home to a storied history of the sponge industry. In the late 1800s, a fleet of 16 ships called Apalachicola home, and seasoned sailors would strap on brass helmets and lead boots to harvest the region’s most profitable crop. After being harvested, the sponges were taken to the Apalachicola Sponge Exchange, where buyers would inspect and then bid on the sponges. From there, the sponges traveled across America, all the way from San Francisco to New York City. The thriving industry came to a halt in 1939, when over-harvesting and red tide led to a complete ban, and it was not until 2007 that sponging was again allowed in Apalach.

The demand for sponges today is notably different; Apalachicola Bay sponges are a niche product, often shipped to spas or companies with a “green” focus that value the renewable aspect of natural sponges. And the local company has a deep respect for this deep sea treasure—they make an effort to help protect the reproduction of sponges by always leaving three inches (the length needed for the sponges to regenerate) and squeezing the reproductive spores of the sponges while underwater.

Almost as storied as the sponge industry is today’s Apalachicola Sponge Company. The owners, Jerry and Joyce Garlick, are longtime residents of and contributors to the area—Jerry was a postal worker until 1995, and Joyce spent years working in the local seafood industry.

In 1995, they opened an antique business in the original Sponge Exchange building. Soon after, they looked into expanding into the natural sponge business. The rest, as they say, is history! Jerry is now the only sponge broker on the Florida Panhandle, and his company sells sponges all across the country. Visitors to the area are welcome in their store, now located in the historic Zingarelli Building across from The Owl Cafe in downtown Apalachicola. One of the most important (and enjoyable) missions of Jerry, Joyce, and the whole Apalachicola Sponge Company family is education about sponges. Apalachicola sponges, as stationary creatures, play an important role in gauging the Gulf’s health in addition to lending themselves to a multitude of eco-friendly uses!

You can learn more about the Apalachicola Sponge Company or make online orders at their website, or visit their store at 14 Avenue D, Monday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

It’s hard to beat the fishing on St. George Island. Its location as a barrier island four miles off the mainland gives fishermen the unique opportunity to fish Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in the same day, if they so choose. And each has its advantages—the Bay is home to more than 100 species of fish, while the Gulf gives opportunity for surfing and offshore fishing along the white sand beaches.

This love of fishing spans the Forgotten Coast region, and locals are proud to include children in our favorite sport. After all, fishing offers children a variety of life lessons, from patience and decision-making to the concept of the circle of life. Many charters, which make fishing hassle-free by including the required licenses, rods, reels, bait and tackle, welcome children. Some are even for children only!

A great way to celebrate the young angler in your life can be found just across the Bay in Eastpoint. The 17th Annual Fisherman’s Choice Youth Fishing Tournament will be held on June 10th, bringing together 200 children ages 16 and under to fish for both fresh and saltwater species. Entry is free and includes a free t-shirt. After the tournament, everyone is invited to attend a cookout at Fisherman’s Choice, the title sponsor and Eastpoint’s premier hunting and fishing supply store.

 

While artists have long painted outdoors, it was not until the mid-19th century that the practice became popular enough to be given a proper name—plein air painting. Since then, the tradition has become a style in and of itself; a painter sets off into the world to capture its beauty at that very moment. This tradition is naturally quite popular in areas blessed with natural beauty, including Florida’s own Forgotten Coast.

For ten days in May, the Forgotten Coast will celebrate the tradition of plein air painting with the 12th annual Forgotten Coast En Plein Air Invitational, when more than 20 nationally acclaimed artists and several hundred art enthusiasts come together for daily artist demonstrations, workshops, art sales, and a series of public receptions.

One of the world’s most prestigious plein art events, the festivities span over 100 miles along the coast from Carrabelle to Mexico Beach and place particular focus on the Forgotten Coast’s unique local culture—the people, places, and stories behind the plein air paintings.

Of course, activities are not limited to the experienced painters! Novices can partake too, with the festival’s Painting Stations, which offer a unique, one-on-one experience with Florida’s Finest Ambassadors and include all necessary supplies. To book your appointment, click here.

And if you fancy yourself more of a spectator, there are plenty of events to enjoy. The demonstrations will be held at a variety of locations and times, giving the artists ample opportunity to capture a variety of different lighting, including darkness! There are also a variety of receptions, “Lunch and Learn” lectures, and Collector’s Forums, but be advised reservations are required and spots are filling up fast!

The Forgotten Coast En Plein Air Invitational begins May 5 at 8:00 A.M. and lasts until May 14 at 5:00 P.M. For more information, such as a schedule of events, please visit their website today!

St. George Island and Franklin County are always actively involved in conservation and caring for their greatest assets—the stunning beaches and unique wildlife. Earth Day gives reason to highlight, celebrate, and educate about the area’s efforts. For example, did you know that the “Leave No Trace” Ordinance, which requires all beachgoers to remove all personal items from the beach by 9:00 p.m., serves a purpose greater than just clean beaches? It’s an important protection for St. George Island’s favorite guests—sea turtles!

The island is a popular nesting site for the endangered species, a responsibility we take very seriously. Between May 1st and October 31st, migrations of sea turtles come to our shores to lay eggs in the same nesting grounds where they were hatched, with some traveling as far as 1400 miles! Temperature of the surrounding sand determines the sex of the hatchlings, and it can take them up to a week to dig out of the RVP Turtlesnest. While a popular but disproven myth claims that sea turtles hatch during the full moon, they do emerge at night to make their way to the ocean, where only an estimated 10% survive to adulthood. Because of the rarity of sea turtles, St. George Island feels privileged to be a nesting site. Strict guidelines and federal regulations are enforced to help protect these precious creatures of the sea, so, if you’re lucky enough to see this miracle, please respect both the turtles and the law by not disturbing them!

 

 

If you find yourself on St. George Island for Earth Day and want to celebrate with education, there are two great options in the area. The FSU Coastal & Marine Lab in nearby St. Teresa hosts a free open house with a focus on the importance of improving human awareness of the tight connection between healthy ecosystems and healthy societies, such as the importance of estuaries and other wetlands in controlling air and water pollution. This event, open to all ages, is from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and more information can be found here.

Another opportunity to learn about estuaries can be found just across the bay at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center. Open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this non-profit organization features aquatic tanks, historical and cultural exhibits, and outdoor boardwalks—all with free admission! More information can be found here.