I will preface this post by saying this was not a normal trip. It was a last minute decision to come here instead of going home for three weeks where it was cold. We had made an unplanned trip home the week before and we both ended up sick upon our return the day before Thanksgiving. So we were in St. George for a week, working full time and sick. Throw in up and down weather and we really didn’t get to enjoy the beach itself. Yet Cathy still fell in love with the area.
I’ve been to St George Island several times in the past for vacation and while some things have changed. RIP Eddie Teach’s Oyster Bar. Much remains the same. I will share some of recent but limited forays and try to weave in some of what I know from past trips to the area.
St. George has some interesting history and you can get the short version from this Wikipedia article. The most important thing to know about the island is that there are no high rise condo’s and unless the laws get changed there never will be. If you want crowded beaches, amusement parks and shopping malls this is not the place for you.
If on the other hand you would like to have the same white sandy beaches of Destin or Panama City, just enough night life, great seafood and friendly locals. SGI is the place for you. They call this area Florida’s forgotten coast and that’s just how the people who live and vacation here like it.
The island itself is made up of three distinct areas. At the East end you find a state park which has a campground and an old fort. One the West end there is a private and fairly high end subdivision. The public airport is in the middle of the subdivision and unless something has changed you have to have a pass to get into and out of the subdivision if you fly in. I have a friend with a private plane who looked into this few years back. There is also an airport in Apalachicola. The middle part of the island is made up of a very small town one motel and a bunch of beach houses.
The main modes of transportation are bicycles and golf carts. Mostly the former unless you live on the island although you can rent them for you stay. If you book a stay be sure you have them include bicycles in your rental. The lighthouse is at the center of town and the tallest structure on the island as far as I know.
There’s a Piggly Wiggly Express and a small more upscale grocery store on the island. The latter has wine, upscale meat and cheese offerings for that perfect sunset trip to the beach. You can have fires on the beach and some wine and charcuterie is a perfect match. I so wanted to do this with Cathy but we were not able to on this trip.
There are several restaurant/bars on the island so you don’t have to leave the island for entertainment or to eat out. The aforementioned bicycles come in handy in case you over do it at Paddy’s. There are also ice cream and pizza places. Beachwear shops, kayak rentals and other things you would expect but probably only one of each in most cases. Again this is a small island and not overrun with tourist stuff. There’s just enough and it’s blended into the the island without being gaudy.
There are nature areas and hiking on the island both in and outside of Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. You will see alligators on some of these. The park does have campsites. We did not visit on this trip. When I was there before they were sand sites and cut out of the jungle. You felt like you were backing into the jungle. But I would check the latest on the website above since I last went to the campground about 9 years ago.
If you like fishing, they left parts of the old bridge on each end of the new bridge as fishing piers. Bring your canopies and stay all day. Of course there’s lots of sandy beaches if you prefer beach fishing. Appalach as the locals call it is known for oysters so you can also buy plenty of fresh seafood and especially oysters both on and just off the island.
We ate at Mango Mike’s the night we arrived. We were tired from the trip across Florida and made a good choice going there. The server was precious, the beer cold and the food was delicious. I had grilled shrimp that was really, really good. We ate here a couple of times. We ate once at the BBQ restaurant across the street from Mango Mike’s. I don’t recommend it and I’ll be nice and not mention the name. I was told that they have good breakfast but don’t waste your time on the BBQ. The only other place ate on the island was Paddy’s Raw Bar. Paddy’s is owned by a huge Alabama fan and they were playing while we were there. This is obviously the locals hangout and has taken the place of Eddie Teach’s. We enjoyed some oysters and snacks and later on split a hamburger wrap. We sat beside the bonfire. Watched the first half of the Georgia game and just had an all around good time.