Some visitors to St. George Island are among the third and fourth generations of their families to vacation here, and while their magical traditions began decades ago, new ones are also starting every day. For those planning your first foray to gorgeous St. George, here’s a helpful guide with plenty of insider information to enhance your experience:

Let’s assume you’ve booked an amazing place to stay with a great rental company and have all the details regarding your lodging squared away. Once you’ve crossed the island’s scenic bridge, the best place to start is the St. George Island Visitor Center, located within a few steps of our historic lighthouse. Operated by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, the center features plenty of free guides to area recreation, including fishing charters, outfitters, and gear rentals.

And while you’re on the property, pop into the Cape St. George Lighthouse Museum and Gift Shop and climb to the top of the 89-foot lighthouse, which offers a gorgeous panoramic view of where you’ll be enjoying your time over the course of your visit. Since most rental properties offer well-appointed kitchens and other comfortable amenities, consider stopping at one or both of the island’s grocery stores to get the necessary provisions for your stay.

With its own dedicated gas station, the Piggly Wiggly Xpress is a great place to top off your tanks and fill a basket with needed items. And across the intersection, the newly renovated SGI Fresh Market offers a large selection of items, fresh produce, a variety of refreshments, and a deli counter with fresh seafood.

And speaking of fresh seafood, if you’re looking for anything from fresh shrimp and oysters to an amazing, ready-to-eat seafood dip, you’d do well with either — or both — of the island’s seafood trailers. Both Doug’s and Dail’s seafood trailers have been staples on the island for more than 20 years, and both are located near the island’s main intersection and usually open seven days a week to provide the freshest of the sea’s bounty.

Once you’re unpacked and settled in your vacation home, you can start thinking about how much, or little, you want to do while on St. George Island. Guests of Resort Vacation Properties enjoy free beach gear including kayaks, paddleboards, bikes and beach games to go along with each home’s high-speed WiFi, cable or satellite. But if you’re looking for a canoe, fishing gear or a charter trip through the scenic local waterways, there are a number of outfitters to help you, including Journeys SGI and Island Outfitters.

Then there’s the beach. St. George Island has 22 miles of sandy, pet-friendly coastline with plenty of room to stretch out without folks sitting right next to you. Seashells are wonderful mementos to bring home with you, as are the unlimited sunrise and sunset photos you can create right on your stretch of beach.

Looking to get out and socialize a bit? The restaurants on St. George offer a variety of tasty meals and expansive cocktail menus for a great lunch or dinner out, and there are opportunities for live music, trivia, and karaoke almost every night. And for those who love to shop, there are art galleries on the island, and Apalachicola’s delightful shopping district is just a short drive across the big bridge, with shops offering apparel, home goods, fine art, and more. You can get amazing meals, many featuring famous Apalachicola oysters, and entertainment there, too.

And an inaugural visit to St. George Island wouldn’t be complete without a few hours spent enjoying its signature state park. With more than 2,000 acres of natural habitat, the park offers coastline on both the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay. There are opportunities to hike, bike, geo-seek, swim, camp, fish, and take in the scenic glory of untouched coastal Florida. Photographers flock to St. George Island State Park to capture the wildlife, landscapes and especially the nighttime stars which, due to little light pollution, are among the best in the Southeast. The state park will help you learn about the natural history of St. George Island while experiencing it firsthand. And the rest will be up to you!

For more ideas about what to get up to along Florida’s Forgotten Coast, click here.

One of the most beloved organizations in all of the Forgotten Coast protects and cares for the area’s many homeless and unwanted pets. The Franklin County Humane Society’s shelter was founded in 1991 and is located near the Tate’s Hell National Forest, just northeast of St. George Island. It was created through the efforts of veterinarian Dr. Hobson Fulmer so that the county “could have a facility that could better the lives of our many homeless animals.”

It is a non-profit entity that exists to combat the rising trend of animals being euthanized every year. According to the American Humane Association, 56 percent of all dogs and 76 percent of all cats — 10 million in total — are euthanized each year. So, the Franklin County Humane Society provides safe-haven, medical care, food, and loving attention for the pets until adoption, in the hopes of relieving animal suffering, preventing animal cruelty, eliminating animal overpopulation, promoting humane education, and enhancing the human-to-animal bond.

Before adoption, animals are spayed or neutered and given proper vaccinations, and for a nominal fee, families can take them to their forever homes and love them for years to come. After Hurricane Michael, four vans arrived from the Tampa area with volunteers from the SPCA Tampa Bay and Pinellas Humane Society to transfer all 35 cats and 14 dogs the shelter was housing at the time. The round trip took them 16 hours due to road closures, and the shelter was back up and running just six days after Michael’s landfall.

The Franklin County Humane Society is supported by events and other organizations throughout the community. During Mardi Gras each year, the Mystic Krewe of Salty Barkers donates funds raised from its Barkus Parade. And in 2018, it was estimated that several thousand people and their pets came to Riverfront Park in Apalachicola to celebrate with the Krewe.

And every year on St. George Island — where the beaches and many businesses are pet friendly — the SGI Brewfest is put on by a committee of caring island residents with the support of more than 40 breweries and sponsorship by Resort Vacation Properties. All proceeds from the festival go to the Franklin County Humane Society, and the 2018 event raised $33,000.

For more about the Franklin County Humane Society, visit Forgottenpets.org.

At Resort Vacation Properties, we’re all about accommodating our visitors with the comfiest homes and best beach and bay views on the Island! But, there’s one Forgotten Coast inhabitant that has a home far too small for guests—the sea turtle!

Turtles are one of the most revered and storied creatures in existence. Some groups of Native Americans believed that a turtle even carries the world upon its back. In cultures from other parts of the world, they can represent luck, endurance, and long life. Here on the Forgotten Coast, where many come to nest, we don’t have a particular mythology for them, but they are among our favorite guests. To help you get to know these fascinating creatures, we’ve compiled a list of little-known facts about our friends from the sea!

They’re travelers—and homebodies, too

Sea turtles can travel over 20 miles a day! Their greatest migration, though, is to home—some travel up to 1,400 miles to lay their eggs on the same shores where they hatched.

They navigate using the earth’s magnetic field (maybe)

Sea turtles can detect both the angle and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field. A new theory suggests that they use this ability to navigate, which is how they find their way back to where they hatched after years of being away.

Their sex is determined by outside factors

Unlike most creatures, their sex isn’t determined by genetics, but by outside factors—namely, the temperature of the sand outside of their nest. Warmer temperatures lead to mostly females, while cooler weather typically yields males.

They’re team players

Because it’s almost impossible for the hatchlings to make it out of the nest on their own, the hatching of one triggers the hatching of the rest. Even with all of the babies working together, it can take up to a week to dig out of their nests!

They’re night owls

When the babies finally make their grand entrance, it’s in the dark. They emerge at night and follow the light, which traditionally leads them to the water. Development along beaches has altered this, however, and oftentimes the lights from houses confuse the hatchlings. That’s why it’s important to turn off outdoor lights during nesting season!

They breathe air

Sea turtles are most often associated with their underwater adventures, but they actually breathe air! They’re champs at holding their breath—they can last 4-7 hours when they’re sleeping or relaxing! However, during physical activity, it’s a paltry 2-3 hours at best.

They can be geriatrics

A healthy sea turtle can live to be about 80, with some even surviving to be over 100! That means some of these incredible creatures even manage to outlive the human researchers studying them.

Unfortunately, our sea turtle friends are endangered. To keep the sea turtle population in existence, there are various laws in place to protect them. If you’re lucky enough to witness a hatching, leave the hatchlings alone and avoid using flash photography or any light. It’s important for them to find the ocean on their own, and, as they follow the moonlight to the ocean, other light will disorient them.

When thirst-quenching brews come down to St. George Island, you can bet a memorable event is approaching on the Forgotten Coast. The best part? The ticket sales for your unlimited tastings on April 29, 2017, will benefit the Franklin County Humane Society. Sample  some of the best brews in the country to benefit our four-legged friends! Here are a few of the liquid liaisons coming to the SGI Brewfest to look out for:

First Magnitude Brewing 

First Magnitude comes straight out of Gator Country. The Gainesville-based brewery pays homage to their Sunshine State origins with names like Saltwater Intrusion Gose, which includes a salty-sour balance reminiscent of your best beach memories, and Drift English Mild, an English-style mild ale named after the countless opportunities for river excursions throughout Florida.

Idlyll Hounds Brewery 

Santa Rosa Beach’s local brewery encourages you to “Beach. Beer. Repeat.” And what better mantra to embrace for the 2nd Annual SGI Brewfest? Their hop-heavy Slizard IPA uses a big boost of citrusy hops to invoke the spring sunshine into every sip. No doubt that with a dog logo and a solid appreciation for Florida’s beaches, Idyll Hounds Brewery’s appearance at our island’s day-long beer-tasting event is kismet.

GrassLands Brewing Company 

Back for round two of beers, beach, and a big time, Tallahassee’s GrassLands Brewing Company will be on hand to serve up their creative craft beers to thirsty beachcombers. GrassLands embodies a beer-with-heart attitude, even allotting each Sunday in their taproom to a community-focused initiative called “Let’s Get Beer With Friends.” GrassLands welcomes everyone to drop by and imbibe in their wholly unique offerings. Fingers and toes crossed that they bring their newest brews—the Dill Pickle Boomtown Gose and the Snakeweiss Muscadine Berliner—beachside for the festival!

Lake Tribe Brewing Company 

This Tallahassee brewery was born out of lakeside campfires and camaraderie. The moniker Lake Tribe Brewing was inspired by the founders’ former YMCA Indian Guides tribe name. Though Indian Guides are no longer in existence, the impact of the organization had quite an impact. The Lake Tribe, a diverse crew of father and sons (several of which were integral to the founding of Lake Tribe Brewing and all of whom share a common passion for incredible craft beer) shared a love of the great outdoors and quality time spent among family. It is this familial bond and pastoral appreciation that continues to inspire the brewery’s vast selections. Be sure to check out Lake Tribe’s Red Cloud IPA. With earthy, hop-forward notes that feel reminiscent of a stroll through the woods, you’ll find yourself one step close to mother nature enjoying this scarlet-hued brew.

Tally Brewing

Sunshine State fave Tally Brewing Company will make their way over from Tallahassee to share liquefied springtime in their SGI Lemon Ginger Gose, a light sipper with a ginger-citrus sparkle reminiscent of gorgeous St. George Island itself. And if you missed the boat on getting your Girl Scout cookies this year, Tally Brewing has something to satiate your sweet tooth while quenching your thirst. Their decadent Thin Mint Milk Stout is certain to be a beer for all seasons and one you won’t want to miss at the festival!

 

See you at Paddy’s on Saturday!

Franklin County, home of St. George Island, is the only county in Florida to allow dogs to go free on the beach, making it the perfect vacation spot for travelers who want to bring along a four-legged beachcomber. With all the fun in the sun, surf, and sand, your pooch will work up an appetite, so some healthy treats (and plenty of fresh water!) are a must. Here are our picks to keep Fido full for a day of adventure!

For a treat unique to Franklin County, stop by Oysterbones in Apalachicola. Their treats—also called Oysterbones— provide your pup with extra calcium with their secret ingredient of crushed oyster shell, a delicacy among Apalachicola’s canine community. An added bonus? This store is a doggy’s dream—the toy testing area has pools for cooling off in, as well as a secure space to run and play.

Another great option for treats is Orijen Original Free-Dried Dog Treats, which are made only from cage-free chicken and turkey or wild-caught flounder. The flavor and nutrition are locked into these high protein treats with a gentle freeze-drying process. These doggy snacks are perfect for pups with food allergies, as they’re made from meat and nothing else.

If a day at the beach proves to be pant-worthy for your pooch, try Isle of Dogs 100% Natural Chillout Dog Treats. Crafted with lavender and lemon balm, they help calm pups down with a flavorful blend of whole grains, apples, sweet potatoes, and flax seeds.

And, after a romp on the beach at St. George Island, your furry best bud might be looking a little windswept. Selina’s Pro Groom in Apalachicola is the perfect solution. Celebrating its 25th year in business, this full-service pet salon will leave your pooch looking fresh and feeling fine!