Port St. Joe Named #1 Pet Friendly Beach

Hurricane Michael apparently did little damage to the area’s reputation as a vacation destination.

Last week, a nationwide charter fishing booking website, FishingBooker, named Port St. Joe among the top nine unspoiled vacation locations.

This week, it is Vacasa, a global vacation rental, real estate and property management company, which has released its top 10 “pet-friendly destinations.”

And whereas FishingBooker listed its top nine “in no particular order,” Vacasa put Port St. Joe in the top position on the list, No. 1 among pet-friendly destinations.

In front of Morganton, GA, ranked second and one of only three of the top vacation spots located in the Southeast.

The other? Panama City Beach which was listed No. 9.

“We love those kind of accolades,” said Kelli Godwin, Executive Director of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council. “Those are the kind of positive messages we love.

“Although it is hard to track, I am sure we see more traffic on our website and on social media. Any kind of positive messaging we love.”

Particularly when that free marketing puts emphasis on what the TDC already focuses so much of its marketing: pet-friendly beaches and plenty of water activity, including great fishing.

The list was filtered for those locations that have historically earned more positive reviews from travelers than non-pet-friendly destinations.

Finally, factored in were areas where pet-friendly rental units have garnered more bookings compared to non-pet-friendly rentals over the past year.

“Most of the destinations on our list are away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and close to large bodies of water that are sure to have tails wagging,” detailed a Vacasa press release.

In its release of the top 10 pet-friendly location, Vacasa noted that Port St. Joe has long been revered as the “small town with a big heart.”

Since Hurricane Michael, the release continued, “Port St. Joe has bounced back nicely.”

And given that over 70 percent of travelers this summer are headed to the coasts, “and all but one of Port St. Joe’s beaches are dog-friendly with calm ocean waters even the most timid pooches can enjoy.”

A spokeswoman for the website said the designation of a top unspoiled vacation site was made after Hurricane Michael, noting that Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas remain “unspoiled by humans, not by nature.”

“The fishing is amazing as it ever was and now that it is high season, the increased charter bookings will help local captains get back on their feet. In the past month alone, over 80 charter fishing trips were booked in Port St. Joe through out website.”

Vacasa teamed with Allison+Patners on a survey of Americans concerning travel plans for the next 12 months, the survey underscoring the extent to which a dog will impact those plans.

Among the highlights: 64 percent of dog owners plan trips specifically to bring their dogs; 82 percent are staying within the U.S., 75 percent driving to their destination, to accommodate their dog; those traveling with dogs tend to prefer laid-back travel; and more than half of dog owners would pay an extra $100 or more to ensure pet-friendly accommodations.