Despite what its name suggests, Florida’s Forgotten Coast has been anything but forgotten by beach bums, nature lovers, and history buffs alike. Settled just across the Apalachicola Bay from St. George Island, the Forgotten Coast is home to many diverse cities, each boasting a unique, colorful history that makes it an ideal vacation spot for those who love full itineraries.  For an inside glimpse at its impressive past, Resort Vacation Properties, located in St. George Island, FL, takes a closer look.

The History of the Forgotten Coast

Made up of nine different cities, a complete history lesson about the Forgotten Coast would take days to deliver. So to help you learn as much as possible in a short amount of time, we’ve highlighted the following cities, each of which has a rich history to offer:

Apalachicola

Apalachicola has a distinctive Native American history, and its name is actually a Native word that means “the land beyond” or “friendly people over there.” At one point in its history, over 40,000 Native Americans called it home. Once the 1700s hit, Franciscan friars arrived from Spain, who laid the seeds for years-long fur trade with the Natives.

In 1831, Apalachicola was officially established, making its first big mark as a cotton-shipping port town. Years later, when railroads beat out steam engines as the preferred mode of trade across the United States, Apalachicola drew from its verdant forestland to become a renowned lumber producer.

Carrabelle

Carrabelle was initially called Rio Carrabella, meaning “beautiful river,” which speaks to its scenic quality. After the Civil War, Carrabelle established its first lumber mill, taking advantage of the contemporary financial boom posed by its natural lumber and naval stores.

In 1895, the Crooked River Lighthouse was built slightly west of Carrabelle. This historic landmark is still standing tall today, inspiring both a dedicated park and museum to be built nearby. Here, guests can view an authentic, period-correct room as it would have been inhabited by the lighthouse’s first keeper. Plus, they can also peruse exhibits and visit a gift shop for even more family fun.

Eastpoint

Founded by a communal religious group, Eastpoint sprouted from the labors of hard-working people. Some of the most prominent settlers among this group were the members of the Brown family, who have gained considerable local recognition as a result.

Together, the Browns and five other families traveled to Eastpoint from Georgia by river. Once they arrived, they established the Co-Workers’ Fraternity, which not only farmed the land but also harvested seafood, worked with lumber and shared the net profits. To many vacationers’ delights, descendants of the Brown family still live in Eastpoint today, signifying just how fruitful dedication and teamwork can be for a community.

St. George Island

Although some don’t consider St. George Island to be a true member of the Forgotten Coast, its proximity often designates it as an honorary member. Plus, with a past full of pirates, shipwrecks, and Native Americans, it’s a haven for both beach and history lovers.

First inhabited by the Creek Natives in the 1600s, pirate Captain William Augustus Bowles was said to have led them in a defensive battle against the Spanish and the French. Legend even has it that Bowles buried a treasure somewhere on the island before he died.

Experience History Firsthand

Containing such a vast array of vivid histories, the Forgotten Coast is a great place to take your family on your next Florida vacation. To learn about our St. George Island rental properties, call us at 877-272-8206 today. If you already own a vacation home, contact us to learn more about how to make the most of your next visit to your beachfront property.

So your vacation has come to an end. Or maybe you’re in the planning phase for an upcoming Florida trip. Either way, you’ve reached the final day of your visit, and you’re looking for a list of the best St. George Island restaurants to dine at. As island experts, Resort Vacation Properties is ready to help. Here, you’ll find some of the best local eateries that St. George Island has to offer to help make your parting that much sweeter.

Paddy’s Raw Bar

When you eat at Paddy’s Raw Bar, you’ll feel like a local no matter where you come from. This spot offers great eats, drinks, and views all under one roof, with apps, sandwiches, and fresh seafood all on the menu. Plus, you can even sample their selection of beer and wine as you chill out beneath an umbrella-covered picnic table and reflect on the great fun you’ve had on St. George Island.

The Blue Parrot Ocean Front Café

Located right on the beach, the Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café makes it convenient to grab a bite or a sip in between sunbathing and swims. Their menu is loaded with mouth-watering appetizers like their loaded fries, golden onion rings, and smoked yellowfin tuna dip. It’s also got tons of fun island drinks to choose from, so you can cool off on your final day at the beach.

Harry A’s Bar & Grill

Just a short walk from our Villas of St. George condos, Harry A’s Bar & Grill is a hotspot for those who enjoy their meals with a side of live music. Their menu has everything you could want after a final day full of fun, with tuna bowls, pasta, sandwiches, quesadillas, and a whole lot of starters available to satisfy your hunger. They also offer daily specials, so be sure to check them out before placing your order.

The Beach Pit

If you’ve got a hankering for barbecue, then the Beach Pit has what you’re looking for. With a menu full of fresh seafood and Texas-style barbecue, you might even need a doggy bag for your tasty leftovers. They describe their dining atmosphere as casual but intimate, so you can wear your cozy after-beach outfit while you eat. Plus, they have both indoor seating as well as pet-friendly, outdoor seating, allowing Fido to come along for a little yummy barbecue.

BJ’s Pizza & Subs

Sometimes, you get the ultimate craving for a classic slice of pizza or a traditional Italian sub. If this familiar feeling strikes on your last night in town, consider giving BJ’s Pizza and Subs a call. Their menu has it all, with tons of salads, appetizers, pizza, calzones, sandwiches, wraps, and ice cream to choose from.

Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream Shop

If it’s your last night on the island, you can’t forget about dessert. Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream Shop is a crowd favorite on St. George Island. Since 1993, they’ve been offering huge scoops, friendly service, and even music for their customers to enjoy. With flavors changing each season, they’re one of the many reasons you’ll want to come back next year.

Parting Is Such (Delicious) Sorrow

The last night of vacation is always bittersweet – you might be sad to go, but you’re probably itching to get back to the comforts of home. Make your last night on St. George Island one to remember by dining at one of our delicious local eateries. For more local insights like these, contact a friendly member of the Resort Vacation Properties team today.

Although summer doesn’t technically begin until June, many view Memorial Day as the true kickoff of the season. Take it from us: there’s no better way to celebrate this turn of the weather than with a relaxing beachfront vacation.

On a coastal trip, you’ll get to start the summer in style by sporting your new sandals, bathing suit, and sunglasses and enjoying some Memorial Day barbecue. What’s more, you’ll get a little much-needed R and R as you reflect on the sacrifices made by men and women in service to our great country. To learn how to make the most of a Memorial Day trip to St. George Island, FL, check out these insights from Resort Vacation Properties.

Soak Up Some Rays on the Beach

On St. George Island, vacationers can enjoy the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico beaches or the vast vistas of the Apalachicola Bay. But best of all, they can lounge around without the standard crowds seen on some of Florida’s bigger beaches, meaning less traffic and fewer lines.

On the Gulf coast or the bay, guests can sunbathe, paddleboard, swim, or wade in the refreshing saltwater. To help facilitate this fun, we provide many of our guests with a Free Beach Gear credit. Through this program, our guests can rent beach umbrellas, bicycles, sand toys, and more from us at no cost. We’ll even leave it waiting on their rental doorstep before they arrive so they can get to the beach fast.

Shop ‘til You Drop

When Memorial Day rolls around, many of us anticipate the jaw-dropping deals that businesses roll out. On St. George Island, eager shoppers can devote an entire day of their trip to the shops at Eastpoint or on Apalachicola Bay. Guests can easily reach these commercial locales from one of our many neighborhoods, either by foot, bike, public transportation, or car.

Sample Some Island Barbecue

No Memorial Day weekend is complete without a little bit of barbecue. Luckily for St. George Island vacationers, there are plenty of local eateries available to satisfy their cravings. For instance, our Villas of St. George condos are located just a short walk away from Paddy’s Raw Bar, the Blue Parrot Ocean Front Café, and Harry A’s Bar & Grill. Guests can even take a trip to The Beach Pit for some delicious barbecue in the spirit of the season.

Alternatively, if you’re a grill buff, many of our rental homes come with park-style grills so you can host your own family barbecue. No matter which option you choose, the stainless-steel refrigerators and microwaves in each of our properties are ready to preserve and heat up your delicious leftovers.

The Reason for the Season

Of course, Memorial Day isn’t all about beaches and barbecues. At its core, this holiday is about paying homage to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom. It’s thanks to them that we’re able to spend time with our loved one on vacations all around the world.

In honor of this Memorial Day season, make sure to spend lots of quality family time on your St. George Island vacation. If you have a beloved dog, we even have several pet-friendly rentals that can accommodate them, too. To learn more about our rental properties or St. George Island, contact a member of the Resort Vacation Properties team today.

If you’re preparing for an upcoming beach vacation in St. George Island, Florida, then you’re probably daydreaming about the coastal views in your future.  But you can’t hit the road without packing your bags, and vacationing near the coast adds a whole other dimension to your packing routine. To help you choose what beach gear to pack, check out this checklist from FL’s Resort Vacation Properties.

The Beach Gear Essentials

Before heading out on your FL vacation, it’s important to make sure your bag is packed with all of the essentials. These items won’t only help you relax, but they’ll help keep you safe and comfortable so you can make the most of your trip. So when you pack your beach bag, be sure to include the following items:

High-SPF Sunscreen

Sunburn is no joke, especially when you’re trying to lounge or play on the beach. We recommend using an SPF of at least 30. The higher the number on the bottle, the more of the sun’s UVB rays it blocks from your skin.

A Sturdy Beach Bag

Every beachgoer needs a beach bag that can stand up against sandy messes and saltwater splashes. Make sure to choose a dependable bag so your necessities can stay organized and protected while you sunbathe.

Beach Wear

Be sure to pack sunglasses, beach hats, sandals, and cover-ups to protect your entire family’s eyes, faces, and necks on your beach day. You may even want to bring along an umbrella if you have loved ones who are sensitive to the sun.

Protection for your Electronics

In between your beachy Instagram stories and Facebook updates, you’ll need to keep your phone safe from the sand and water. To accomplish this, you can use something as simple as a sandwich bag or invest in a waterproof case to guard against the coastal environment.

Sand-Free Beach Mat

Beach blankets are things of the past. Now, sand-free mats are the new, convenient way to go when taking a beach vacation. These mats are much sturdier to sit on, easier to clean, and simpler to carry, so be sure to pack one in your beach bag.

Plenty of Drinking Water

Since you’ll be on the frontlines of sun and fun, be sure to pack plenty of cold water on your beach day. These will help you stay hydrated and ward away any headaches or heat-related illnesses.

Healthy Beach Snacks

To hold you over before your next meal, be sure to pack some healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, to keep you all fueled throughout your visit.

First-Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, but if your child steps on a seashell or you get stung by a bee, a first-aid kit will help you dress them. Make sure to pack a kit so you can worry less and relax more.

Stay Ahead of the Game with Our Beach Equipment Rentals

If you’re itching to get out on the St. George Island beaches but need beach gear, Resort Vacation Properties offers free equipment rentals for guests staying at one of our select rental properties. To learn more about our rental offerings, contact us at 877-272-8206.

Rental properties offer a convenient, unique way for families to vacation. Unlike many hotels, these private accommodations can make you feel right at home – no matter where you travel. But if you’re planning on renting a house for your next Florida trip, forgetting an essential item can put a serious dent in your plans. Here, Resort Vacation Properties provides a list of the essential rental home supplies to pack so you won’t forget a thing before you leave.

The Essential Rental Home Supplies

Although your mind might be filled with Florida daydreams, it’s important to load your bags up with everything you’ll need before entering relaxation mode. To help you out, Resort Vacation Properties suggests packing the following useful supplies: 

Specialty Kitchen Items

While you’ll certainly want to visit some local restaurants, it can be just as fun to cook a fresh meal in your rental property. For cases like this, you’ll want to pack whatever utensils your property is without. This might include baking dishes, plastic containers, and other leftover staples like aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Electronics Chargers

On a beachy vacation, your phone will get a lot of use. But in between all of your social media updates and video chats, your phone battery will inevitably take a hit. Don’t go without a phone when you need it most – instead, be sure your charger is packed and ready to go the night before you depart.

Toys and Games

If you’re vacationing with kids, be sure to pack some of their favorite toys and games. These might include beach toys like buckets and shovels, a family board game, or even a portable gaming system.

Beach Towels

Many rental properties stock their bathroom closets with towels for guests to use. However, these towels are typically meant for use after a bath or shower, so be sure to pack a few quality beach towels in your suitcase. These towels will be larger, sturdier, and can help keep the sand outdoors where it belongs if kept separately.

House Slippers

After waking up on a bright, beachy morning, or warm, starry night, a pair of fuzzy slippers will help keep your feet warm as you travel to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. If you can’t go without your slippers, toss a comfy pair in your bag.

Power Strip

If your family has tons of chargers to contend with, then the outlets in your rental home might not cut it. To sidestep this issue, you might want to pack a surge-protected power strip in your suitcase so everyone’s devices can get a full charge every night.

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

If you’ve been making a vacation playlist, why keep it to yourself? By packing a portable Bluetooth speaker, you can share your coastal creation with your whole family. If you have one, bring it along to use while lounging on the beach or hanging out at your rental property.

Stay Vacation-Ready with Resort Vacation Properties

Once your bags are fully packed with all of the essential rental property supplies, you’ll be ready to hit the road. At Resort Vacation Properties in St. George, FL, guests who forget to pack any beach gear essentials have nothing to fear. With our Free Beach Gear program, we can set them up with bicycles, beach umbrellas, and more, allowing them to relax to the fullest. To learn more about this program or our vacation rentals, contact us today.

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.

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.

The warmer months help us forget the previous seasons until, like melted frost on a summer day, they are out of sight and far out of mind. But hurricane seasons like that of 2018 leave a lasting impact on our hearts and, in the case of the Florida panhandle, our communities.

Those of us in the area stand with our coastal cousins in the wake of Hurricane Michael and have supported disaster relief efforts since October 11, when he came ashore. Because we know what’s best for the Forgotten Coast is best for everyone living here year-round or just making it their home away from home.

Fortunately, St. George Island — and nearby communities like Apalachicola, Eastpoint and Carrabelle — were spared a majority of Michael’s wrath. The damaged roads, including U.S. 98, have been repaired, allowing access from the north, east and west, and the last of the debris has been cleared. And now that spring has sprung and the water temperatures are headed into the 70s and 80s, it’s the perfect time to rediscover the jewel of the Forgotten Coast.

St. George Island State Park—with its 2,000 magnificent acres—is once again open, and the charter boat captains are gassed up and running fishing tours multiple times a day. And all of the island’s outfitters have kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, bikes, and golf carts ready for rental.

And a huge positive to come out of Hurricane Michael’s churning of the Gulf waters has been the bounty of seashells that can be found for miles along the island’s southern shore. So, in addition to the sandy white beaches, natural souvenirs abound for collectors who want a few spectacular mementos of their trip to a true paradise the hurricane couldn’t tarnish.