We headed to the beach this year, first time in what seemed like too long, considering Florida is a peninsula- surrounded by water on all three sides. I had never been to the sleepy seaside town of Apalachicola, so known for it’s oysters and hurricane- battered past.
We rolled into town via a nice beach stop on Alligator Point at Bald Point State Park ($4 car pay-in envelope entrance fee). The water was murky and the beach thin, but it was a nice place to splash after a long car ride with a bonus shower after we left the beach and continued our journey.
98 took us past the other small seaside communities- some so tiny you could blink and miss them- Carrabelle, Eastpoint and then wound it’s way over the Apalachicola River and straight through the heart of the historic downtown.
We checked into our room at the Best Western Apalach Inn– a clean and friendly-staffed hotel near downtown. Jeanna, the girl at the desk ironically attended the high-school in our own sleepy hometown. She recommended places to eat downtown, but we had already indulged ourselves prior to our arrival. Sunset was looming, so we threw our bags in the room (did I mention it was clean?) and headed north on 98 out towards Indian Pass. We never made it to the official beach, stopping where a bunch of other cars had stopped on the road side and climbing over the rocks to the stretch of hurricane-weathered beach below.
Turtle nesting areas were flagged along the tree-strewn stretch of beach. Great place for shelling and fishing, but the logs and debris make it not so swimmer-friendly, but the sun set is amazing!(left side of the road, past the Indian Pass Raw Bar and just before the kayak/canoe docks on the right.)We hung out on the beach till nightfall and stumbled back to the car, seashells in hand.
Apalachicola turned out to be a very laid back town, and closed on Sundays and Mondays-really- except for the Old Time Soda Fountain on Main Street, where they raked in the ice-cream searching customers! After a day spent swimming, fishing, star fish hunting, and building sand castles on at St. George Island State Park ($6 a carload), , we tried fresh oysters- harvested that morning in the bay, at the Up The Creek Raw Bar- my son loved them- with the lemon juice , cocktail sauce and horseradish. My daughter, the sushi-queen, tried one and quickly moved onto the steamed version. Our favorite was the bacon and cheddar steamed oysters (everything is better with bacon, right?)
We tried our hand at some sunset fishing on our second night, right at the pier beneath the Apalachicola River Bridge, but only caught catfish- but boy did we catch those catfish!
We were sorry to leave the old fashioned little town.( Jeanna had told me, “Your town is big compared to this! ), but our adventures were taking us further up the coast. My husband and I agreed to return again, perhaps during the famous seafood festival in November.
Things to know Before You Go:
You are a captive audience here and a Wal-Mart there is not. Buy your ice chests (for drinks, fish, bait, oysters, etc.), sun umbrellas, chairs and the rest before you arrive. The biggest store here is Family Dollar. The one near St. George Island Bridge seems the only one stocked for the beach items.
The Best Western Apalach Inn: great place and serve free breakfast of waffles, eggs, biscuits & gravy, etc. Handy for budget family adventurers. We fed everyone there at breakfast, ate snacks and had an early dinner, thus cutting the costs.
Fishing: Angling Adventurers, bring your pole (and fishing license). You can buy bait at gas stations and fish off piers and from beaches. Try the old bridge on St. George’s Island (Buy your bait before you reach the island!)
Beach Adventurers: Best beach for swimming was St. George Island State Park. Stop at one of the pull offs, or drive to the end for bathrooms/showers. There is NO shade! Bring a sun umbrella, hats, sunscreen, and choose certain hours- like two hours on, two off. Keep your receipt and you can return the same day. Oh yeah, don’t let the kids smuggle the many starfish they will find into the car! You’ll only find it when it starts to smell, and by then it will be too late!
Sunset: Don’t miss a Gulf Sunset. You and the kids will remember it forever.