Explore Gulf County Florida…One of the State’s Best Beaches

Amy Aumick

Cape San Blas is a strip of Florida beauty near Port Saint Joe that is home to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, once named the best beach in America by beach connoisseur Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach.”

Separating St. Joseph Bay to the north from the Gulf Of Mexico to the south, Cape San Blas is a vacation paradise located along 17 miles of barrier peninsula.

The peninsula is the proud haven to four lighthouses worth exploring. The largest, and most famous is the stubborn Cape San Blas Light. In 1847 Congress appropriated $8,000 for the conical brick tower, which was destroyed in a storm only four years later. In 1857 a brick lighthouse was again erected, only for the wooden parts of the tower and both keepers’ houses to be quickly torched by Confederate soldiers. The keepers hid the lens, oil and tools in Apalachicola, which allowed the lighthouse to return to operation in 1865.

By 1875, the waters of the Gulf had moved to within 150 feet of the tower’s base. By 1882, it stood in only eight feet of water. Engineers designed a skeletal steel frame to protect the light, but the cargo they ordered from the north was lost in a shipwreck during the voyage south. Ever determined, the engineers salvaged what they could from the shallow Gulf waters and were able to light the 98-foot tower in 1885.

The lighthouse was moved four more times, but after Hurricane Earl in in 2012, the lighthouse was decommissioned, moved again and reopened to the public as a national historic place in 2014.

Camping at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers 119 campsites with water, electricity, picnic table and grills. Glampers can rent one of seven cabins furnished with kitchens, fireplaces, bathrooms, heat and air. Primitive campsites are also available including a separate tent area is available for youth groups.

In addition to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Cape San Blas is nearby to St. Vincent Island, a national wildlife refuge. Bring or rent a bicycle and pedal on over to the shuttle service for a $10 ride to the island or inquire about charter fishing in the abundant waters.

Unlike many sleepy beachside locales, Cape San Blas has a thriving selection of amenities within a stone’s-throw to the beach including a Trading Post, boat landing, and concession shops, and an abundance of resort-style rental choices.