USA Flag  Attractions of the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast - Forgotten Coast -1

NOTICE: JULY 10, 2005 HURRICANE DENNIS DAMAGED SOME OF THESE AREAS. MOST WILL RECOVER RAPIDLY, BUT CHECK ON CONDITIONS BEFORE VISITING.

 

FEATURED ATTRACTIONS IN THE AREAS OF:

 

  Mexico Beach    St. Joe Beach    Port St. Joe

 Cape San Blas    St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

 

The "Forgotten Coast" is certainly overlooked by many. Stretching along the Gulf of Mexico from Mexico Beach, just East of Tyndall Air Force Base and around Florida's Big Bend area into the peninsula, it has none of the glitter of its West Panhandle neighbors of the Emerald Coast. It is, however, a tapestry of lands, woven of Pine, Oak and Cypress forests; swamps, back bays and estuarine grass flats; scrub grasslands and palmettos; high sand dunes and white, sandy gulf beaches. It is definitely not forgotten by those lucky enough to have spent time there.

 

Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach and Cape San Blas are all small villages situated directly on the Gulf of Mexico. The ocean surf pounds the shores and all have white, long, sandy beaches. Port St. Joe is a waterfront city on St. Joseph Bay, sitting behind and protected from the Gulf elements by the St. Joseph Peninsula. It has neither expansive beaches nor surf, normally. All of the cities are known for their quiet demeanor as well as their Apalachicola Bay seafood. While there are convenience stores along the main highway for the beach cities, more serious shopping would be accommodated in Port St. Joe or further west in Panama City.

 

The entire area included for the cities and the state park on this page is fairly small and a traveler going from one end to the other by car would traverse the distance in less than 45 minutes. This area is also a fine base area from which to tour the Panhandle west and into the Big Bend area to the east. It is also adjacent to the Apalachicola National Forest and near Tates Hell State Forest and Tates Hell Swamp.

 

Click on each picture below to get a larger view and use your browser's BACK button to return to this page. Bookmark this page ("Cntrl" key + "D" key) so that you can return to review it and look for updates. For additional information, most of the cities or attractions on the page have embedded links to the website or the area's Chamber of Commerce.

 

Click for more Panhandle cities, attractions and pictures.

 

 

Mexico Beach

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Mexico Beach Public Pier.  Houses along Mexico Beach. Mexico Beach looking east.
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Route 98 through Mexico Beach. Mexico Beach Condos Mexico Beach off-water houses.
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Mexico Beach sunset. Moon over Mexico Beach. The landmark Driftwood Inn. Toucans Restaurant
Mexico Beach lies east of Tyndall Air Force Base. Often in the late afternoon or evening, many of the aircraft returning to base from the day's training activities can be seen and heard along the beach. The small city of Mexico Beach generally runs along Route 98, which closely follows the coastline. Fronting the highway and the beach are many of the beachfront properties. North of the highway is a residential area where the zoning permits structures as diverse as mobile homes to 2 story brick and concrete houses. The local city beach park is adjacent to Toucans Restaurant and the pier is on the west side of town. This area is well known for low key activities and peace and quiet.

St. Joe Beach

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Pictures above show houses and condos along Route 98 in St. Joe Beach.

 

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Route 98 through St. Joe Beach.

 

The view from Beacon Hill Park and the navigation beacon.

 

Tiny St. Joe Beach is a few miles east of Mexico Beach and is similarly built. It sits on Route 98 which follows along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico through the town, leaving a narrow swath of beach shoreline on which private residences have been built. The off-water residential area has a diversified blend of mobile homes and concrete and brick dwellings. Tidy neighborhoods, tree lined streets and quiet would characterize this beach town. Beacon Hill is just west of St. Joe Beach and the site of a Gulf navigation beacon.

Port St. Joe

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Pictures of Port St. Joe Downtown along Reid Ave.

 

Port St. Joe Marina.

 

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St. Joe Lumber & Export Co.

 

Site of Constitution Convention

 

Pictures of houses in Port St. Joe.

 

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Pictures of residential streets in the community of Port St. Joe.

 

Port St. Joe house.

 

Well over 100 years ago Port St. Joe was a bustling port city and one of the larger cities in Florida. Rebuilt from an earlier settlement wiped out by hurricanes and a yellow fever epidemic, Port St. Joe thrived on its shipping trade. From the mid 1950's to 90's lumber was its staple, cut from the forests just east. The city is home to The St. Joe Company, a noted Florida land developer whose history is traced to the lumber and paper mills of the area.  Host to Florida's initial Constitution Convention in 1838, a state park here honors the event. Out of the environmentally sensitive enterprises of the past, today's Port St. Joe looks to capitalize on Florida's golden tourist trade.

Cape San Blas

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Cape San Blas Lighthouse Complex

 

Cape San Blas Light Tower

 

Beach access entrance.

 

Pictures of Cape San Blas Homes.

 

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Pictures of streets and oceanfront houses in Cape San Blas.

 

Well landscaped yard.

 

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Beachfront houses in Cape San Blas.

 

Townhouses in Cape San Blas.

 

The community of Cape San Blas nestles in the dunes on the southern end of St. Joseph Peninsula. Hundreds of homes elevated on concrete pilings and stretching miles along the beach seem to forewarn of Gulf storms and tidal surges. A newer and popular area, Cape San Blas is a quiet residential community of condominiums and townhouse-like structures 2, 3 and 4 stories tall. The surf of the Gulf of Mexico pounds granular white sands and dunes along the west facing beaches which extend unabated into the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. The east side of the narrow peninsula is bordered by St. Joseph Bay and the highly regarded St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, which can only be accessed by boat, is nearby.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

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Dune-crossing boardwalk.

 

A remote area, even by Panhandle standards, the beautiful beaches seem deserted much of the time.

 

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The beaches of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park seem to show up on someone's list of "best beaches" from time to time. From a viewpoint on the dunes, the clear emerald waters near the white sandy shoreline stand in contrast to the deeper blue offshore waters.

 

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Ghost crabs in abundance.

 

These Laughing Gulls are serious.

 

We think this is a Sandpiper.

  

A Rock Dove, commonly, a pigeon. 

 

On the north end of St. Joseph Peninsula lies  St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.  Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay, this narrow spit of land accommodates various species of birds and marine life. Campers and RV'ers can enjoy the good life at one of the many camping sites and those not similarly inclined may stay at one of the cabins in the park. Canoeists and kayakers can take advantage of the wilderness areas along the bay. There is a boat ramp for boaters and fishermen and sanitary facilities for all.

 


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