Sharing the Beach

what can i do to help protect the island and its wildlife?

Franklin County now has a “Leave No Trace” ordinance that forbids leaving anything on the beach overnight, including chairs, tent or canopy frames, and umbrellas. Island animals can ingest, become entangled in, or otherwise come to harm due to the objects left on the beach overnight, including the endangered species who rely on the Island’s beaches for habitat and nesting sites. Collect your gatherings and trash at the end of each day, and remove them from the beach.

are fireworks allowed?

Fireworks are prohibited in the Plantation, Sunset Beach, and 300 Ocean Mile. In other areas, fireworks are allowed in compliance with Florida law. All debris should be cleaned up immediately. During sea turtle nesting season (May 1 – October 31) fireworks should not be used, to ensure the safety of nesting turtles and the hatchlings attempting to make their way to the water.

may i have a fire on the beach?

Open fires are prohibited in the Plantation and 300 Ocean Mile. In Sunset Beach and the Villas of St. George, campfires are allowed on the beach, below the average high water line – away from all structures. In the Gulf Beaches, a small warming fire is allowed away from vegetation. In all cases, leftover campfire debris should be removed promptly, as soon as it is safe to do so. Please be aware that during sea turtle nesting season (May 1 – October 31) we STRONGLY urge you to avoid building fires on the beach for the safety of the endangered turtles and the hatchlings attempting to make their way to the water.

are dogs allowed on the beach?

St. George Island is exceptionally pet friendly, with dogs allowed on both beach and bayside on most of the Island. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, per the July 2017 Franklin County Animal Control Ordinance. Many of our businesses welcome dogs and their companions, and you will find water bowls and maybe even the offer of a T-R-E-A-T or two ase you and your furry friends explore the area.

Dogs are restricted in some areas of the State Park on the eastern end of the Island. You may view detailed information about this on their website here:

Dogs must also be leashed at all times in St. George Plantation, the private community at the western end of the Island.

is there a public boat or marina on the island?

There are no marinas on the Island; Eastpoint and Apalachicola are home to several.

The St. George Island boat ramp is located on the northeast side of the St. George Island fishing bridge. This newly-constructed ramp has become very popular and can accommodate various size boats. It offers parking for 13 cars and 14 boat/trailer combos.

There are two natural (not paved or maintained) ramps for boat access into the Apalachicola Bay located in the State Park. One ramp is at the Youth Camp area and the other is 2.5 miles from the entrance. Both ramps can accommodate boats not much larger than 24’ in length with a shallow draft, depending on the current tide. A small fee is required.

Apalachicola offers several public boat ramps that can accommodate any trailer-able boat. Battery Park is located at the foot of the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge on Bay Avenue between 4th and 6th Streets in downtown Apalachicola. The park provides several public boat ramps, a playground, and a fishing pier. Another ramp is located on Market Street at Mill Pond on Scipio Creek. The Lombardi boat ramp is located near the westerly entrance into Apalachicola on US Highway 98.

sea turtles

help us protect one of our most treasured guests

about st. george island sea turtles

While visiting St. George Island, we hope you have the opportunity to encounter one of nature’s most miraculous events. Our area is a favorite location for several types of nesting sea turtles and we feel very fortunate because the female Loggerhead nests from May 1st through October 31st on our beautiful beaches. On the rare occasion, we are also visited by Green and Leatherback turtles.

This threatened species nests only on subtropical beaches where it is warm enough to incubate their eggs. The turtles emerge from the Gulf between May and August and deposit between 80 – 100 eggs in a nest cavity ranging from 12 inches to 3 feet deep, usually near the dune line. Approximately 60 days after the nest is laid, the two inch long turtles hatch and scurry down the beach to the sea, guided by the light reflected from the water.

Hatchlings swim offshore and in their first several years live in floating seaweed, drifting along the edges of ocean currents. Many years pass until the hatchlings reach maturity. Sea turtles may live for up to 60 years or more and adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. Only a small percentage of the hatchlings, (approximately 10 in 1000), reach reproductive age.

nesting turtles

We have local volunteers that assist the citizens and guests of St. George Island, too. In fact, during the six month nesting season, the St. George Island Volunteer Turtlers walk the beaches every morning at dawn to search for any new nests. The trained volunteers can identify which type of species came ashore by the tracks left in the sand. They can also determine whether turtle actually nested.

The nests are then clearly marked with a “Do Not Disturb” sign provided by the State of Florida. A volunteer will check the nest each morning to look for signs of crab predation, surf over wash or inundation, human disturbance, or signs of the nest hatching or disorientation of hatchlings.

turtle-safe beach lighting

Sharing the beach with sea turtles is a great privilege and so we take great measures to protect them. Federal and state laws protect all species of sea turtles and Franklin County enacted a lighting ordinance in 1998 to aid in these efforts. In April, 2015, the ordinance was updated to incorporate more advanced technology.

Lighting near beaches causes hatchlings to become disoriented and wander away from the sea. When this happens, most hatchlings die from exposure, dehydration or being run over by vehicles on nearby roads. Although our vacation homes are fitted with turtle-friendly light bulbs, we ask that you turn off all exterior lights and close the shades each evening at dusk. Please be aware that if you can see house lights during your evening stroll on the beach, the turtles can, too.

"leave no trace" ordinance 

Since 2014, Franklin County has had a year-round “Leave No Trace” Ordinance. The rule is designed to keep our beaches clean and safe for both people and wildlife. Highlights include:

1. All personal property, (including tents, (and frames), chairs, toys, umbrellas and coolers, etc.) must be removed from the beach between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am. UNATTENDED items may be removed and destroyed.

2. Unattended items may be stored on the beach overnight if they are moved close to, but not on the toe of the dune or native vegetation, provided that “such items shall not … significantly affect sea turtles.” We STRONGLY recommend that you bring items all the way off the beach. Please!

3. Holes dug on the beach must be filled prior to leaving the beach.

If you see a crawl, please contact the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 404-3922.

Resort Vacation Properties provides more information about our native guests in each vacation home but if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call. We appreciate your assistance in caring for these natural wonders.

a quick guide to enjoying a turtle-friendly beach

In order to avoid disrupting the nesting sea turtles we suggest the following:

  • Please turn off all exterior lights and close window coverings after dark.
  • Avoid disturbing a turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean.
  • Avoid shining lights on a sea turtle or snapping flash photos.
  • Avoid other nighttime activities, such as bonfires, fireworks, etc. that might prevent sea turtles from coming ashore.
  • Take in personal belongings at night, so a sea turtle won’t get tangled in them.
  • Fill in any holes you dig on the beach.
  • If you are lucky enough to see a turtle; sit quietly in the dark, at a distance, to watch her nest.
  • Discourage others from harassing any sea turtle.
  • If you have the opportunity to see a hatch take place, please do not help the babies to the water. Baby sea turtles must get oriented to their future-nesting beach.

safety tips for pets

on the beach

-Sand spurs can be quite a menace to little furry feet! Keep an eye out for limping; it’s a clear indicator that a sand spur has found a temporary home on your dog’s paw.

-Provide shade and water. If you think it’s warm in the sun, imagine how it feels with a fur coat on!

-Be aware on the beach. Sea creatures may have washed up, or other beachgoers may have accidentally left garbage behind. Make sure your pet doesn’t ingest something harmful.

-Watch for people fishing. Sometime their lines can dangle hooks, and of course the bait often smells very interesting to animals. Steer clear of potential hazards.

around the island

-Sand spurs don’t just grown by the beach! Keep an eye out for limping; it’s a clear indicator that a sand spur has found a temporary home on your dog’s paw.

-Provide shade and water. If you think it’s warm in the sun, imagine how it feels with a fur coat on!

-Away from the beaches, be aware as well: traffic on the Island and wildlife in the bushes or on trails could present possible hazards as well.

-There is also a population of feral and semi-wild cats on the Island. Dogs have been known to take off chasing them, so keep those leashes handy!

veterinarians and pet care

Local resources include:

Apalachicola Bay Animal Clinic
Dr. Hobson Fulmer

Franklin County Humane Society

(850) 653-9144

Penelope’s Pet Stop

Petunia Pet Stop

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