With a name like Gulf County, Florida, one would expect the water to be the super star. That’s true, but here, the Gulf of Mexico is only the beginning. There are bays and inland waters. There are places like the Stump Hole and the Dead Lakes. Places for fishing and places for floating. From any spot in the county, it’s never more than a five-minute trip to one of these waterways and the means to enjoy them are as varied as the landscape.
Located on the central Gulf coast, Gulf County is just two hours southwest of Tallahassee and an hour east of Panama City Beach. It has a laid-back beach town vibe and is known as a prime coastal getaway for those who prefer low-rise lodging, local eateries and home-grown businesses.
The water-related activities here are diverse and, of course, visitors are encouraged to find their own way to enjoy them. Here are some tips for the best ways to experience some of Gulf County’s best spots.
The most unexpected experience in the county may be an outing on the Dead Lakes, located in the inland community of Wewahitchka. The freshwater lakes are named for the thousands of hollow cypress stumps that remain after sand bars formed in the Chipola River. The stumps are joined by beautiful cypress and White Tupelo trees, along with a host of fish and wildlife.
Shelling and Snorkeling
Gulf County is well-known as a great shelling and snorkeling location and the calm, shallow waters here are the best around for these pursuits. Exploring near the Gulf shoreline for shells at low tide and discovering the wildlife while gently swimming amid the grass beds of St. Joseph Bay are invitations to learn more about the creatures that inhabit these waters.
The variety of options, whether inshore, offshore or inland, makes this an angler’s dream location. To the north, there are Largemouth Bass and Crappie to be found in the Dead Lakes, Apalachicola River or Lake Wimico. St. Joseph Bay, Indian Pass Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway are popular spots for Speckled Trout, Redfish and more. A favorite surf fishing spot for locals is the Stump Hole on Cape San Blas. And of course, the Gulf of Mexico is easily accessible for offshore species like grouper, Amberjack and snapper.
The pristine waters of St. Joseph Bay are a favorite among paddlers, who know dolphin and sea turtle sightings are bound to add to the excitement of a fun day on the water. But whether gliding on St. Joseph Bay, taking an outing from St. Joe Beach or exploring amid the wild beauty of the Dead Lakes, adventure abounds for paddlers.
Taking in the Sunset
There may be no more relaxing way to enjoy the waters than to watch one of Gulf County’s amazing sunsets. Charter cruises are available, but many choose to just enjoy the beauty with their toes in the sand at one of the many local beach access points.
Where To Eat
Of course, a day on the water can conjure up an appetite! These local favorites offer delicious dining options, and they don’t mind if you wear your beach attire.
Weber’s Little Donut Shop (4975 Cape San Blas Road, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-340-3552) Many start the day ordering at the window of this little jewel, famous for cake donuts and deep-fried croissants.
Tiki Grill (2531 FL-71, Wewahitchka, Florida 32465; 850-639-6888) This popular lunch spot has limited seating but features daily specials as well as a grab-n-go deli counter.
Shipwreck Raw Bar (7008 West Highway 98, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-647-5050) This spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The extensive menu features oysters, seafood and steaks.
Indian Pass Raw Bar (8391 County Road 30A, Port Saint Joe, Florida 32456; 850-227-1670) Oysters are the star of this menu and they are served raw, baked and steamed. Steamed or stuffed shrimp and seafood gumbo are popular, too.
Longbill’s (7650 Cape San Blas Road, Port Saint Joe, Florida; 850-250-4310) Pizza and tacos highlight the fare, along with the fresh seafood featured in the appetizers, sandwiches and entrees.
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