The Apalachicola Bay area is a place of wonder and natural delight, and although it’s the signature destination along what’s known as the Forgotten Coast, for more than three decades it’s been no secret to folks living in the region and beyond.

Most recently, in a glowing article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the writer found tremendous peace on the island. “Emptiness is one of the major pleasures of St. George Island,” he wrote and reveled in the lack of beach umbrellas marring the view and how “no lines of wooden chaise lounges march off into the distance like a military parade.”

“The quiet and lack of bustle is a 180-degree change from more-familiar places like Gulf Shores, Destin, and Panama City,” the March 2019 article reads. “Where you sometimes feel as if you’re crammed against your new ‘best buds’ who yell at their kids to ‘Get back c’here!’ and play their music at the same levels as an F16 fighter jet taking off.” The entire article, titled “For rest and relaxation, try Florida’s ‘Forgotten Coast,’” can be found here.

Photographers flock to St. George Island throughout the year for its flora and fauna, so we’re always pleased when the island lands on Top 10 photography lists, like the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s “10 Best Beaches in Florida” collection in March 2019. The island was listed in a three-way tie for 7th, and the caption pointed out “camping, hiking and picnicking as its primary recreational activities.” Here is the slideshow.

The first sunset image in Coastal Alabama magazine’s “10 Best Secret Beaches in Florida” is of a lovely “truly unspoiled stretch of sand” on St. George Island. And in the description, it says, “You’re unlikely to encounter any other humans, but you will see plenty of migratory shore birds. Interesting fact: this area of Florida produces 90% of the Sunshine State’s oysters.” The gorgeous sunset photo can be viewed here.

Coastal Living’s love of the island isn’t relegated to just landscapes. The amazing charity concert series, Rock By the Sea, was listed in the magazine’s “Best Music Festivals on the Beach in Florida” in 2018. The writer describes St. George Island as “the perfect place to listen to live music by the beach” and tells of how the multi-day festival showcases “dozens of up-and-coming songwriters, as well as more well-known headliners like former American Idol winners.” The slideshow is can be seen here.

Readers of Birmingham magazine and AL.com caught wind of the area in August 2017 when the article “The Forgotten Coast: The beach destination you need to know about” was published. The writer was impressed with the island’s lack of high-rise condominiums, its abundance of secluded beaches, and the “laid-back, genuine vibe that keeps those who are in on the secret coming back year after year.” She was also impressed with St. George Island State Park, referring to it as, “a preserved area with untouched beach, winding walking trails, and views of the bay.” The entire article is available here.

In October 1998, a New York Times columnist took a trip to St. George Island, tuned his car radio to Oyster Radio, WOYS-FM, and headed to the beach where he found, “soft white sand, wide dunes and gentle waves.” In the piece titled “A Relaxed Grip on the Panhandle,” he called the island’s beach, “perfect for family romps” and lauded St. George for its lack of population, which led to a vacation he described as: “Uneventful, yes. Boring, no.” You can read the entire column here.

It wasn’t the first time the Forgotten Coast was featured in the country’s most prominent newspaper. More than a decade earlier, in March 1987, the Times featured an article inspired by a vague advertisement about the area. In “A Florida Shore Where Solitude Rules,” the writer toured St. George Island’s eastern neighbor Dog Island, and the greater St. George Sound.

A guest at the now-abandoned Pelican Inn, this Times writer found the island “ideal for those who want to shell, swim, take photographs of unobstructed sunrises and sunsets, hike to tidal marshes and freshwater ponds, walk along clean white beaches, seek out birds (200 species during the year), and study plants (391 species of native and naturalized plants).” The article is archived here. (https://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/08/travel/a-florida-shore-where-solitude-rules.html)

And speaking of Dog Island, when Hurricane Michael hit the area in October 2018, it uncovered several shipwrecks that were originally stranded on the island during the 1899 Carrabelle Hurricane. In total, 15 ships were grounded on Dog Island, and here is where you can see the photos of those uncovered in the wake of Michael.

It’s easy to see why St. George Island is so newsworthy despite its presence at the gem of the Forgotten Coast. Experience the extraordinary aspects of our shores by planning your trip here today.

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.