We just returned from one of our favorite places on the planet — Cape San Blas, Florida. We have been going to the Cape since 1988, so we have a long history of traveling to this particular spot. Many years ago, a friend of mine told me about the beach and about the state park where she camped on Saint Joseph’s Peninsula.
As a young couple, we were intrigued — we also had pretty much no money between us, and the nominal camping fee beckoned us. I think it was about $12 per night. That fit into our budget, so we made reservations and set out on an adventure.
Arriving in the middle of the night, we had no idea when we awoke the next morning what we was awaiting us. Just beyond the white sand dunes, was the beautiful blue/green and crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We were hooked. From that day on, we vowed to return to our new “secret” beach as often as we could. We also talked about one day bringing our future children to “our” beach so they could experience all of its magic.
Every year we could, we rented a house or a condo and almost always brought my parents along with our children — at first one child, then two, three, then all four of our children.
We have so many fond memories of all of them running on the beach, building sand castles, swimming in the ocean and body surfing on those waves. We also loved fishing and catching all of the crazy things you tend to catch when you fish in the ocean instead of in fresh water. The children loved feeding the seagulls and trying to catch those fast-moving little crabs along the beaches.
Cape San Blas is not the beach for you if you need a lot of entertainment. There are no high-rises, no fast food restaurants, and definitely no movie theaters, malls, or putt-putt golf centers.
Instead, there are miles of pristine white sandy beaches, lovely water, lots of wildlife, and not many people. The bay is just across the street and lots of people kayak, fish and scallop when it’s scallop season. Of course there are boats you can rent, or if you own one, bring it along for your beach excursion. One year we brought our boat and the dolphins swam right beside it. That was such a unique experience.
Mexico Beach is not too far from the Cape. You may remember last year (Oct. 10, 2018) when Hurricane Michael bore down as a Category 5 on Mexico Beach, Florida. The horrible hurricane basically took out Mexico Beach and they are still working hard to recover.
The hurricane also did significant damage to our beloved Cape San Blas, although there are still plenty of beautiful homes and places to stay on the Cape. Some estimates say the damage from Hurricane Michael are more than $25 billion.
The town of Apalachicola isn’t too far away and we always visit several times while we are at the Cape. A charming town steeped in history, Apalachicola is anything but a “touristy” place. You can easily do a walking tour of the town and take in all of its history and charm.
There is the Apalachicola Maritime Museum, a fun playground by the City Marina, numerous historic houses and cottages, several beautiful and historic churches, and much more. We love the Gibson Inn, built in 1907.
There is a charming restaurant, a beautiful bar, and also still operates as a hotel — the rooms are all different and a far cry from modern hotels that strive to make all rooms exactly alike.
The John Gorrie State Museum is small but packed with interesting trivia about Dr. Gorrie’s contributions as well as information about Florida’s plethora of state parks. Did you know Dr. Gorrie invented the first ice machine? He was trying to figure out a way to cool the air in the homes of his patients — especially those suffering from yellow fever. There is a replica of his ice machine in the museum. As you can imagine, Dr. Gorrie’s invention paved the way for the future ice industry and air conditioning.
There are also restaurants in town, but my favorite thing to do is to visit 13 Mile Seafood Market, a local fish market. The seafood is locally caught so fresh you wouldn’t believe it. I love to pick up some shrimp, tuna, grouper, or whatever is fresh that day, and cook it that night. In my mind, no restaurant can compare to fresh fish you cook yourself.
Speaking of seafood, be sure to check out my food column this Friday where I share some of my favorite fresh seafood dishes and some side pairings.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.