Port St. Joe is a tiny town on the panhandle of Florida, on the stretch of land that is coined as the “Forgotten Coast”. Right on the Gulf of Mexico, the town is an ideal vacation spot for any beach bums that crave seclusion and white sands. What used to be a booming tourism industry on the coast is now a sleepy, easy going beach town that makes any vacationer feel welcome.
Drive! It is really the best option. There is not really an airport close–there is Tallhassee which is two hours away–but you will definitely want a car while you are down there with all your beach gear!
Where to stay
- Moon and Stars house, rented out by RealJoy Vacations, is the most fabulous getaway for large families (sleeps 6-8 comfortably) or even just for couples. It is in the Windmark neighborhood, a short walk on the boardwalk to the beach, and close enough to the city of Port St. Joe to make a quick errand if you need. The hardwood floors make it easy to come in from a sandy day at the beach, and the large living area lets in happy sunlight.
- The Barefoot Cottages, also rented out by RealJoy Vacations, is a great neighborhood for families. The cottages are large and airy, and there is a pool in the middle of the neighborhood. These are the most bang for your buck–they are usually the same price as a hotel room in the summer, but you get the entire house to yourself to cook, come and go as you please, and not have to worry about cleaning crew coming in!
- The Driftwood Inn is a cute boutique hotel that is right on Mexico Beach. Its cute outside speaks for its adorable inside.
What to do
- Yoga on the beach is perfect anywhere, and is a great way to wake up, even for non-yogis! If you are looking for an organized class, the El Governor Motel in Mexico Beach has daily classes and Windmark Beach clubhouse has a couple classes a week
- Parasail over the Gulf of Mexico! Perfect for all the adventurers out there, parasailing is just like flying–except over the Gulf! El Governor Motel does parasailing for $115 for a double–so grab your friend and fly!
- St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is miles of secluded wetlands and forest areas right on the the bay. Perfect for walking the dogs, taking the kids on a hike, or finding some peace and quiet.
Where to go
- The Marina at Port St. Joe is a fabulous place to walk, fish, or sit and ponder your life. There is a restaurant on the dock that overlooks the yachts, fishing boats, and little boats parked in the marina, serving great seafood.
- Mexico Beach is the place to be for waves and lots of people! It’s not overcrowded
like Panama City Beach, but it has just the right number of beach bums to make it seem lively.
- Windmark Beach is a secluded, natural beach with an abundance of critters and sea life. Fisherman love to walk down to the pier on this beach because they catch anything from stingrays to sharks, and dolphins often make an appearance around 9am. Crabs are everywhere, and there is almost no one around during any time of the day. Because it is a part of the beach that is on the Bay of St. Joseph and not on the Gulf of Mexico, the waves are subtle and soft and the water is so clear that you can see the bottom even when it is 5 feet deep. It is a perfect place to have some serious alone time on the shore, or to rent a kayak from the Windmark Beach clubhouse.
Where to eat
- Toucan’s Restaurant at Mexico Beach is happening restaurant and tiki bar that sits right on the sand. The food is fried, the servers are Southern, and the covered porch is a dream come true for people of all ages.
- Indian Pass Raw Bar is the dirtiest, most secluded, scariest shack of a restaurant I have ever seen. You absolutely HAVE to go there. Despite its terrifying outside, the seafood and fried food is DELICIOUS and the service is GREAT. It is renowned for its food along the coast, and is the only restaurant for miles. It is worth the trek out to the Indian Pass part of the Coast.
- Provisions Restaurant and Wine Bar is the best fancy food that you will find in downtown Port St. Joe! Its menu includes a fabulous three-cheese penne and the best bruschetta you will ever have. The wines are fabulous as well, and on Saturdays, you can get two Sangria for the price of one!
- Dockside Seafood and Raw Bar is right on the dock of the Port St. Joe Marina. Its interesting location and fresh seafood makes it a MUST for dinner one night. Families love it, couples go on dates there, and its unique atmosphere makes it a great night out away from the rest of town.
- Pepper’s Mexican Food is classic Mexican food, and the only Mexican restaurant in Port St. Joe. It is always full of people, but you almost always get seated right away. Try their chimichangas, they are fantastic!