What if we told you there was something truly magical to experience during your next Florida vacation? A space where a wispy white and purple glow of colors combine with stars, planets, meteor showers, and intricate celestial bodies. Get away from the city lights and head for a space that’s a little clearer. Visit the Forgotten Coast and see the St. George Island night sky for an out-of-this-world experience like no other! Read on to discover the best barrier island in Florida to view a starry night sky. 

And, for things to do before sunset, make sure to unlock our free St. George Island Vacation Guide. It offers an array of fabulous restaurants, outdoor recreation, museums, and other stellar attractions. Check it out now and start planning your getaway!


things to do st george island

The Best Place to Experience a St. George Island Night Sky 

Spot the Stars at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park 

St. George Island Park is the best place to view a night sky in the region, and the park is working towards designating it as a Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association. 

Why It’s the Perfect Spot 

The park is the best place to see the stars because it’s on a barrier island, making it far from light pollution from big cities.  

St. George Island State Park is a top attraction for outdoor adventurers on the Forgotten Coast, so we recommend spending the day there! Then, after a full day of hiking, biking, paddling, boating, fishing, or birding, stay tuned to the sky above for the ultimate show.

One thing to note before your evening of admiring the stars is that Florida State Parks close at sunset, so you’ll have to either reserve a campsite or get an after-hours permit with the Florida State Parks Family Annual Pass from the park’s office. 

st. george island vacation rental exterior with palm treesAfter Stargazing on St. George Island

You’ve been on your feet all day, getting your steps in, seeing Florida’s fascinating wildlife up close, and experiencing something that’s so out of this world. After a full day of adventures on St. George Island, rest and recharge for a new day of thrills by unwinding in the best Forgotten Coast vacation rentals 

Get the family together and stay in our Goodnight Moon vacation home. This beautiful 5-bedroom house can accommodate you and 11 other eager stargazers. When you visit here, you’ll be able to take in the incredible views of the Gulf and Bay from all three floors. 

Fill the rest of your trip with trips to the nearby island shops, restaurants, nightlife, and St. George Lighthouse Museum. Then, return to your rental to relax on one of the private decks connected to each bedroom for another evening of stargazing. 

If you’re ready for a unique and memorable Florida vacation, check our availability and book your favorite rental today! 

After Labor Day has come and gone, you may be searching for something to look forward to before the holiday season. Luckily, St. George Island in October is one of the best beach vacations you can book! Read on to learn why the offseason on the Forgotten Coast is our favorite time of year. 

Looking for more fun while visiting St. George Island? We’ve created a useful guide with all of the best attractions for your vacation on the Forgotten Coast. Unlock our free Vacation Guide now, and you’ll receive exclusive access to top restaurants, bars, outdoor recreation, museums, shops, and more fun things to do no matter what time of year you travel!

free vacation guide st. george island in october



Make the Most of Your Vacation to St. George Island in October with These 3 Fall Activities 

1. Enjoy the Beautiful Weather Outdoors 

Say goodbye to the chilly temperatures in the Northern parts of the United States and migrate south to extend your summer. Fall is a great time to visit St. George Island because the weather on the Florida Panhandle is not too hot and not too cold. 

Weather on St. George Island can range from lows in the mid-60s to nearly 80 on some afternoons. The mild temperatures are perfect for enjoying fresh air and almost any outdoor activity or water sport! 

Dip your paddle into a cool stream while kayaking or canoeing at Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful day in October with great fishing spots, hiking trails, bird watching, and beaches. Plus, you can use our free beach gear! 

2. Discover Forgotten Coast History 

Up until Halloween, you can venture out and explore one of St. George Island’s oldest monuments, the Cape St. George Lighthouse! Get your steps in and climb to the top with your friends to experience the most spectacular view of the island! 

3. Celebrate Fall at a Forgotten Coast Oktoberfest or Fall Festival 

After running Tate’s Hell 5K at St. James Bay Resort at the beginning of October, wind down with a beer or several at their Oktoberfest Fall Festival that same day. There, you’ll have the opportunity to throw down some delicious German food or local seafood, dance to live music, or bid on local art! 

The fall fun doesn’t end that day. If you stay in town long enough, you can attend another Oktoberfest, the Apalach Oktoberfest at Oyster City Brewing Company in Apalachicola, FL! 

Relax in one of the Best Vacation Rentals for Your Vacation to St. George Island in October

st. george island vacation rentalBeautiful ocean views, spacious living rooms, fully-equipped kitchens, gorgeous balconies, pools, and hot tubs are just some of the awesome amenities you’ll enjoy when you choose the best vacation rental for your family on St. George Island. 

After a day enjoying the beautiful October weather in Florida or catching a buzz at Oktoberfest, unwind with your best friends in our Bestie Beach Therapy vacation rental in West Gulf Beaches. This pet-friendly getaway home is a fantastic place for you and six of your friends to relax after your coastal Florida adventures this fall with a private pool, grill, and free beach gear. 

Check our availability for October and reserve your private fall retreat today! 

We took the stress out of your next vacation by putting together a 7-Day itinerary to St. George Island for you! Follow this handy guide, and soon you’ll be able to relax on the beach with your friends and family, get a taste of Florida’s freshest seafood, explore great nightlife and bars, and get a glimpse of Forgotten Coast history with a visit to St. George Island’s landmarks and museums. And, don’t forget to use our free Vacation Guide for an extensive list of the best SGI attractions. 

st george island things to do

A 7-Day Itinerary to St. George Island to Make Your Life Easy 

By using this week-long vacation itinerary, you’ll explore the best outdoor recreation and daytime attractions, brunch, and lunch spots, before diving into the best places to enjoy dinner, drinks, and laidback Florida nightlife. 

The restaurants of St. George Island aren’t just spaces where tasty dishes are served in flavors as varied as the wildlife they’re surrounded by. They are places where strangers become friends. And it’s not just meals we gather over, but songs, bingo cards, and trivia slips. 

“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful. In a word, more alive.” — Alice Waters 

On the island, you’re not required to entertain yourselves, although that’s certainly your right, and if you want to relax and share fellowship at the same time, there’s fun to be had every night of the week—and most of the time without charge. 


On the first day of your vacation, end your road trip or day of flying by relaxing and recharging in your private St. George Island vacation rental. This is a great time to take a nap at the house or on the beach. Or, maybe you’d like to admire the beautiful ocean view from a private balcony or take a refreshing dip in the pool! Then, when you’re done resting or exploring your new home for the week, get ready to go out to some of the best St. George Island restaurants and bars. 

You can enjoy live music most nights of the week, especially Friday through Sunday, at places like Eastpoint Beer Company, so let your hair down, let loose, and enjoy each night of your vacay! 


Start your first full day of vacation with a full day of salt and sun with some water activities! Explore the outskirts of the island by boat and book a St. George Island boat rental or eco-tour. Spend some time on the water while catching gorgeous glimpses of Florida’s best wildlife and scenery. Fishing is a major draw to the area as Florida is one of the best fishing destinations in the United States. Luckily, there are plenty of fun fishing charters or ideal fishing spots around the Forgotten Coast to choose from. 

If you caught the perfect dinner during your fishing adventures, you should definitely take it back to your vacation rental to whip up the ultimate feast. If not, there’s always a ton of incredible local seafood restaurant options for those who are a bit unlucky when it comes to fishing! 


It’s Sunday Funday! So, prepare for the thrill of your vacation! No Sunday scaries here when you still have nearly a week left of your St. George Island vacation. On Sunday, you should start your day with a delicious brunch before booking an afternoon of adrenaline, a warm salty breeze, and lots of laughs! 

Charge up your energy levels with a delicious brunch and morning coffee to fuel you through Sunday’s adventures. We recommend that you choose from some of our favorite brunch spots on the Forgotten Coast, including Café Con Leche, The Beach Pit, or Weber’s Little Donut Shop. 

After brunching hard, you’re ready for an adventurous day on the water. Just across the street from Weber’s little donut shop, you can rent jet skis from The Jetski Hut right on the beach! 

Zip around the Gulf Coast waters on your speedy jet ski rental, and get a drink at the Blue Parrot Tiki Bar right after returning to shore! It’s conveniently located right on the beach, where you pick up and drop off the jet skis! 


Mondays don’t have to be drab. You’re on vacation, so why not brighten a Monday mood with a visit to a vibrant art gallery or an intriguing museum? Take a break from the sun for a day and visit the Live Oak Gallery in Apalachicola, Florida. Chill under the shade of a live oak tree and get artistic inspiration from a local award-winning artist. 

Some museums or historic sites you may check out include Carabelle History Museum or Three Servicemen Statue and Veterans Memorial Plaza. 

Once the sun begins to set, Paddy’s Raw Bar at Gunn Street and East 3rd is where things get lively! You can attend their “Eat. Drink. Think” trivia on Monday nights around 7 p.m., and live music is offered there most other nights as well, beginning around 6 or 7 p.m. 


Tuesdays are a great night for socializing on St. George and around the area. And, what better way to spend an evening than with a little Taco Tuesday dinner, drinks, and trivia at Tamara’s Tapas Bar in Apalachicola? 

You may also enjoy Harry A’s, the hot place for karaoke on Tuesdays, which starts around 7 p.m. 


Ready for some more mid-week outdoor adventures before the end of your vacation? Don’t leave the Forgotten Coast without exploring Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park on the east end of the island. Here you can discover nine miles of beautiful scenery, wildlife, picnic areas, hiking trails, fishing, and sandy shores on the Gulf. 

Then, after a day of kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or dolphin watching, experience the best Gulf of Mexico sunset before the most incredible stargazing experience on the Florida Panhandle. 


On the last day of your trip, explore some of the surrounding areas around St. George Island, like Carabelle, where you can see the Crooked River Lighthouse, also known as the Carrabelle Light. Or, just 30 minutes from there, you can explore Apalachicola National Forest, the largest U.S. National Forest in Florida. 

st. george island vacation rentalWhere to Recharge Your Batteries Each Night

Make it the vacation of your dreams when you stay in a Resort Vacation Properties vacation rental on St. George Island. From smaller vacation homes to large, beachfront to pet-friendly rentals, you’ll find your ideal vacation rental for you and your crew. 

Check our availability and start planning your week of adventures today!

What’s better than a little bit of sunshine, beautiful scenery, great people, fun memories, and a friendly game of golf? It doesn’t get much better than that! Tee off during your next vacation on the Forgotten Coast and make sure to visit the best St. George Island golf courses. And, when it’s time to give the golf clubs a rest, find a variety of other incredible experiences to have by taking a look at our complimentary St. George Island Vacation Guide. It offers local insight on all our favorite restaurants, shops, and outdoor recreation around the island and Apalachicola Bay! 

Unlock My Vacation Guide

Golf on the Gulf by Visiting These St. George Island Golf Courses

St. James Bay Golf Club

Just a little over a half-hour from our properties on St. George Island is the beautiful St. James Bay Golf Club in Carrabelle. This 18-hole championship golf course is ideal because it offers a combination of a beautifully manicured golf course, putting greens, breathtaking scenery, and appearances from the diverse array of Florida Wildlife. St. James Bay Golf Club, designed by Robert Walker, is one of the only attractions in the area that is designated an Audubon Signature Sanctuary for cranes, hawks, eagles, and other birds.

If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a black bear or an infamous Florida gator! Plus, the wetlands and water hazards make any game a bit more challenging for an advanced player.

No matter what you need throughout the day, St. James Bay likely offers it. Their Yamaha golf carts come equipped with a GPS, Bluetooth, and phone charger. If you’re hungry after a full day of playing golf, you’ll want to try out their onsite restaurant, Crooked River Grill for delicious coastal cuisine.

St. James Bay Golf Club is open to the public, so anyone can book a tee time on their website!

St. Joseph’s Bay Country Club

Another great place to golf on the Gulf is St. Joseph Bay Golf Club in Port St. Joe, Florida. This par-72, 18-hole championship golf course offers spacious fairways that are perfect for any experience level.

There, you can take a swing at the driving range or putting range. Then, when you’re ready for a break, cool off in the pool, or enjoy lunch or dinner at the full-service restaurant, Shaggy Bay Supper Club. Make sure to gather your buddies after the game for a cold drink because the restaurant includes a fully stocked bar as well!

When It is Time to Put the Club Down…

Large House with poolA full day of fun under the sun is sure to tire you out in the best way possible, so you’ll want to unwind in the best vacation rentals on St. George Island. Resort Vacation Properties offers incredible vacation homes just steps from the beach and not too far from the golf courses. Our large selection of small or family-sized vacation rentals includes an array of amenities so that you can have the best golf getaway on the Forgotten Coast. Take a look at our rentals, and book your favorite one today!

One of the greatest things about the Florida coast is our fantastic fishing. Whether you want to enjoy a morning of surf fishing on the beach or a day of offshore fishing, there are several great options for St. George Island fishing charters to choose from. Before you cast your line, make sure to check out our free Vacation Guide to St. George Island and Apalachicola Bay. We’ve included our top picks for restaurants, outdoor recreation, and other attractions on the Forgotten Coast. Request your free Vacation Guide, and start planning your vacation now! 

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Everything You Need to Know About St. George Island Fishing 

Types of Fish on the FL Coast 

Fishing in Florida is some of the best you’ll experience in the country! With so many different types of fish, like Spanish mackerel, flounder, speckled trout, redfish, and sharks, and so many incredible fishing spots on the clear or emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time. 

Where to Fish on St. George Island 

The best fishing spots on the St. George Island and Apalachicola Bay area are the Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, Unit Four Beach, and Old Carrabelle Beach. 

St. George Island State Park

They each have unique traits to help make your fishing adventure unforgettable. St. George Island State Park Beach takes the crown for the best shore fishing in the area. 

East End Fishing Beach

Between St. George Island and Dog Island is the most productive fishing spot with deep currents and large schools of fish. It’s called East End Fishing Beach, and you can only use the beach for fishing. 

Forgotten Coast Fishing Piers

Do you enjoy the thrill of casting your line from high up on a fishing pier? Two great options are directly across from each other between Apalachicola Bay and Saint George Sound. These two fantastic fishing piers are the Eastpoint Fishing Pier and the St. George Island Fishing Pier. 

Unit Four Beach

Looking for the best combination of shallow oyster bars and good shore fishing? We recommend you cast a line at Unit Four Beach on East 6th Street! 

Old Carrabelle Beach

Need some peaceful scenery during your fishing trips? Old Carrabelle Beach is the spot to go to! Cast a line, and gaze out at the acres of beautiful grass beds as a backdrop to the perfect fishing day. 

Cruise Around with St. George Island Fishing Charters and Boat Tours

With Florida being probably the most ideal destination for the perfect fishing experience, it’s no wonder there’s such a large selection of fishing opportunities around the island. When you’re ready to take on the big blue, you can try your hand at offshore fishing with the best SGI fishing charters! 

You can choose from several different fishing charter options like inshore fishing, offshore fishing, or deep-sea fishing. And, if you just want to relax and take in the most breathtaking Gulf views, you can try boat tours, including dolphin encounters and sunset tours! 

Where to Cook Your Catch 

st george island rentalWhen it’s time to cook your catch, head to your St. George Island Vacation Rental for the ultimate fish dinner! Our fully equipped kitchens make it easy to spend time with your family and friends as you cook and eat after a day of hard work and play! Check our availability and book a St. George Island fishing trip today. 


Are you longing for the days of warm temperatures, sunshine, and dipping a paddle into the smooth rivers and waterways of Florida’s Forgotten Coast? Then, it must be time for a day of St. George Island kayaking! St. George Island, Florida, is an ideal destination for water activities, like kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing trips.

But, water sports aren’t the only fun activities to do in the area! St. George Island offers an array of family-friendly activities to help you create the most memorable Florida vacation yet. To learn about all of the best things to do in the area, including top restaurants, attractions, and outdoor recreation, make sure to request access to our free Vacation Guide to St. George Island and Apalachicola Bay!

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Your St. George Island Kayaking Guide

St. George Island Kayak Rentals

Journeys of SGI

If you have an appetite for new journeys and experiences, you should check out Journeys of SGI. Travel to new areas, encounter Florida’s most fascinating wildlife and scenery, and enjoy the journey while paddling through the streams and rivers of the Gulf coast. In addition to rentals, they also offer river tours and fishing equipment. You can choose to rent kayaks, canoes, fishing kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or golf carts.

Island Outfitters

If you’re looking for a place to hook you up with the Hobie Kayaks, BIC Sports Stand Up Paddle Boards, or a Yakima rack to help get you to the boat launch, make a visit to St. George Island Outfitters. When you rent with SGI Outfitters, they guarantee you the finest fishing kayaks, high-quality seats, life jackets, paddles, and roof racks to make your day on the water as easy as possible.

St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park is one of the most popular places to paddle, so it’s convenient that the renowned park offers kayak and canoe rentals. You can pick them up at the ranger station before hitting the bay or Apalachicola River!

One of the best ways to explore Florida is by discovering its wildlife and the different ecosystems that support them. There are so many ways to spend the day with nature. SGI State Park offers some amazing experiences and amenities, including three-and-a-half miles of bike paths and nature trails, fantastic birding opportunities, boating, fishing, geocaching, hiking, picnicking, shelling, stargazing, swimming, and nine miles of pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico! You’ll never be short on outdoor activities during your vacation.

Where to Rest After Your Paddling Adventure

st. george island vacation rentalOnce you get tired from all the canoeing and kayaking, lay your head down in a comfortable St. George Island vacation rental. Resort Vacation Properties offers the best rentals on the Forgotten Coast for you and your family. Choose from incredible beach homes that are large enough for your entire family, including the four-legged, furry members!

Blue Skies is a stunning beach home that will have you craving blue skies, sunshine, and fun outdoors. This four-bedroom home is perfect for you and your family as it can accommodate 12 people. How would you like to wake up each morning to coffee with a view and the relaxing sound of the ocean? Blue Skies has a beautiful porch with a fantastic view of the water and a private pool. If this sounds like your dream home, check our availability and start planning your dream vacation today!

Grabbing your girlfriends, heading to St. George Island, and sticking your toes in the sand for a few days is not only a wonderful way to celebrate friendship in a gorgeous locale, but it can actually help you live longer. According to scientific studies, friendships can ward off dementia and increased life expectancy. It has also been proven that active friendships help make you friendlier, more generous, and more trusting.

A girls’ trip isn’t just a vacation—it’s a chance to explore the best moments of the past and strengthen relationships for a happier future. And no matter what your tastes or interests, the island has what you need to relax and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Want to start your day limber and calm? Take the group down to the beach for sun salutations with Island SUP&Yoga. And once you’ve loosened up, try something new and take a paddle board lesson from the same female instructors. A properly balanced body helps clear your mind, which will undoubtedly lead you to maximum relaxation.

St. George Island and nearby Apalachicola also have numerous art studios where you can take a painting class or even try your hands at sculpture. Sea Oats Studio offers a variety of workshops both indoor and “en plein air.” It’s the ultimate way to connect creatively with your friends and have something unique to remember your travels by. And speaking of memories, having a comfortable place to stay on the island is the best gift you can give yourselves and each other.

Whether you’re traveling with your two best friends, or a group of 10 laughing ladies, Resort Vacation Properties has the place for you. Solitude is a seven-bedroom home located on the island’s east end and offers easy access to the beach while staying delightfully private. It features a screened-in porch adjacent to the pool, which includes a six-person hot tub and private deck.

For larger groups with a bit of do-it-yourself flair, A Glimpse of Heaven features a 40-foot-long, screened-in pool with a giant dolphin fountain. The pool is adjacent to an opulent living area, complete with a half bath and an outdoor kitchen. It’s like having a giant swimming pool at one end of your amazing living room! What could be better than sipping wine on a comfy couch and then taking a quick dip before having a delicious seafood dish prepared a few feet away?

Those are just a couple of the amazing properties available on St. George Island, and they’re all within a short drive, stroll, or bike ride from some of the best restaurants Florida has to offer. You can get everything from fresh Mexican fusion dishes to pit barbecue and blackened fish caught the same day. And St. George Island features some of the top bartenders in the business for when sharing stories makes everyone thirsty.

Companionship is a priceless commodity in today’s world, and what’s good about spending time with your closest friends is that once you’re together, everything else is just the cherry on top. Which is why the number one destination on the island for our visitors is the more than 20 miles of sandy beach. All you need is a chair, an umbrella, and some sunshine — plus the people you enjoy being with more than anyone else.

Spring Break is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of schools being out to string together quite a few days for an adventure. But many of us across the country wince at the thought of trying to relax with toes in the sand and the sounds of the surf in our ears during Spring Break. Because many Florida beaches are overrun with high school and college students who, while as welcome to enjoy area sands as we are, don’t necessarily do so calmly or quietly.

But St. George Island is the perfect location for Spring Break, for a number of reasons. First, it’s primarily a place for families, so many of the students bent on cutting loose head for other coastal towns. That keeps the beautiful sandy beaches free from huge crowds, and the negatives associated with them.

Which doesn’t mean it’s a time for isolation, either. Just like in other peak times, the businesses around St. George Island and the Forgotten Coast are open and ready to welcome their guests. Which means live music, art events, great food, and the sense of community that makes our coast the very best.

Plus, the weather in the early spring is ideal on the island, usually breaking into the 70s, making for pleasant sun-kissed days and cool nights where a fire in the fire pit is still a great idea, as is stargazing. And many of the homes we offer through Resort Vacation Properties can include a hot tub or heated pool, so you can enjoy a little dip in your swimsuit day or night!

Another major benefit to Spring Break vacations on the island is all of the incredible outdoor activities St. George provides. On any given day visitors can enjoy fishing — offshore and inland — kayaking, hiking, bicycling, window shopping and more, all within a few minutes’ drive. And there are several wildlife preserves, including St. George Island State Park and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve across the bay, where birding and other observations help you revel in the natural diversity of the area.

Finally, one of the best and most underestimated pleasures of Spring Breaking on St. George Island is the ability to stay in. Our properties offer all you need to prepare an exquisite meal, especially with fresh seafood a short drive away and nearby stores offering all the fresh ingredients you need. And you can host an incredible movie night or even a get-together with neighbors, should you feel so inspired. Our homes have great decks, outdoor barbecue areas, and a host of gaming opportunities, all within sight or a short walk of the waterfront.

This Spring Break, the question shouldn’t be “Why should we?” but “Why shouldn’t we?” The entire island awaits you and the entire family, with all the positives and none of the negatives. To make it work, all we need is you.

When you arrive on St. George Island, the one thing you can be sure of is that everyone wants you to have the best, most fulfilling vacation ever. From the shop owners to the park rangers and your fellow visitors, when we’re all happy, life is wonderful.

And nothing can turn a good day bad like trouble. Just like traffic officers enforce the rules to ensure safe passage on area roads, beach officials use a flag system to communicate the levels of safety, and danger, that exist in the Gulf of Mexico. After all, the safety and enjoyment of our public beaches are affected by changes in tide and surf conditions.

The warning flag system was developed by the United States Lifesaving Association, in conjunction with the International Lifesaving Federation to be an easy-to-understand guide to possible water hazards. The flags come in multiple colors: red, double red, yellow, green and purple.

Red flags are the most serious of the beach warnings and warn beachgoers of severe hazards in the water. A single red flag indicates the surf is high, there are dangerous currents in the water, or both. It’s still possible to swim under red flag conditions, but swimmers are expected to use extreme caution. A double red flag means that the water is closed to swimming due to conditions too dangerous for any swimmer.

Yellow flags indicate rough, but not life-threatening, conditions requiring caution. It means there’s the potential for high surf and dangerous currents and/or undertow. Swimmers in the water under a yellow flag should only swim near lifeguards and be mindful of their instructions.

Purple flags are specifically related to dangerous marine life, such as sharks, jellyfish and other creatures. It’s possible the purple flags can be flown along with another colored flag, and they are only put in place when dangerous sea life has been spotted. A purple flag does not mean the water is closed to swimming, but anyone entering the water should use caution and be on the lookout for dangerous sea life.

Green flags are our favorite, because they indicate conditions are clear. But it’s important to remember the environment can change quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on children, heed lifeguard instructions, and use general caution at all times.

Want an easy way to check the current water conditions before you head to the beach? Check out our Live Beach Cam, and the Current Weather Conditions!

Look around the homes of most St. George Island vacationers, and you’d be hard pressed not to find a sunset family photo, framed and prominently on display. It’s only the most seminal image of any beach vacation, after all. And considering our island has some of the most amazing vistas, who wouldn’t want to preserve an amazing memory with their family on the sugar-white sands?

But how many times has this happened to you: the sun’s nearing the horizon or has just gone under, the skies are ablaze with colors straight off Monet’s palette, and everyone in the picture is drowned in shadow. So you do what everyone would, you edit the photo digitally to lighten up the faces and immediately lose the colors that took your breath away to start with.

Or maybe even worse, you leave it as is, and each time you look at the picture, you’re having to remind yourself who was there with you, because you just can’t tell.

The solution is so simple that you’ll never again have to deal with the problem. And better yet, your family photos taken at sunset will be nearly as breathtaking as the memories they chronicle.

First things first: whether taking the photo with a phone or a real camera, turn on the flash. It may take a few shots to get it right, but even a selfie can turn out great if you have what the pros call “fill light.”

What if you have a group larger than a selfie can capture, and you’re in a spot that’s secluded (which is exactly why you came to St. George, by the way). For less than $20, you can get a tripod that will hold either a cell phone or a camera. That way you can fit everyone in! Use the timer, and you don’t have that awkward pose where everyone can tell exactly who was holding the phone.

And if you can at all help it, don’t use a phone. A real camera, whether it’s a point-and-shoot model or a DSLR, can be purchased for a reasonable rate. After all, since you’re in the business of making incredible memories, don’t you want to capture them in the best way possible?

For the more discriminating eye, an on-camera flash is too much. It can flatten the subjects in the image, and in some early evening light, it can cast an abnormal pall on those being illuminated. So if natural light is preferable, consider a reflector. You can buy one on the cheap, but if you don’t want to go that far, consider a white towel or sheet.

Any reflective surface can do the trick, just move it around until you see the light brighten the areas you’re looking for.

Lastly, take a bunch of pictures. Even if you’re laughing or some folks aren’t looking at the camera, you’d be surprised how the most beloved images are the ones that don’t look forced and are far more candid. You came to St. George Island to relax, so all the pictures of you taken here should reflect that! Consider making it a tradition to snap that obligatory sunset photo, and prepare to be amazed at how your family grows and changes over the years of visiting gorgeous St. George.