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CAPE SAN BLAS NORTHWEST FLORIDA HORSEBACK RIDING
Credit: Paradise Media for VISIT FLORIDA

For beach lovers looking to steer clear of crowds, Florida's Forgotten Coast is a welcome reprieve. With 200 miles of coastline encompassing five islands, 99 historic sites, and some of the most charming beachside communities you'll find anywhere, there are dozens of reasons to keep this "forgotten" stretch of Gulf Coast shoreline front of mind. Cape San Blas, a 17-mile-long peninsula that curls around St. Joseph Bay and is connected to the rest of the state by a thin sliver of land, is definitely one of them. 

The under-the-radar vacation destination offers miles of pristine white-sand beaches that are as suited to a romantic couple's getaway as they are to a large family reunion. With uncrowded beaches lining both the St. Joseph Bay and the Gulf, visitors get to choose their own adventure. Wade in the gentle bay waters or body surf in the ocean's salty spray—how you spend your sun-filled vacation days is entirely up to you. If you're ready to add Cape San Blas to the top of your "must visit" list, here's everything you need to know to start planning the coastal vacation of your dreams. 

St. Joseph State Park Cape San Blas
Credit: VISIT FLORIDA

How to Get There

One of the best things about Cape San Blas is that you'll feel like you're on a remote island in the middle of the Caribbean, but no planes, trains, or boats are required to get there. Just head straight down Highway 98 or Scenic 30A until the two become one. Once you hit Port St. Joe, you're just a 15-minute drive to the peninsula known as Cape San Blas. 

What to Do 

Of course, the first thing to do at any coastal vacation is hit the beach. And you won't be disappointed with the list of activities Cape San Blas's beaches offer. From kayaking, fishing, and standup paddle boarding to horseback riding or simply lounging in the sand, your day can be as action-packed or relaxed as you please. When you're ready to dry off, explore the area on two-wheels via the paved Loggerhead bike trail that runs 8.7 miles along the cape.  

At the end of the cape is the T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, a 1,900-acre wilderness preserve that stretches 20 miles into the Gulf and acts as a sanctuary for hundreds of species of wildlife. Between May and October, also known as turtle hatching season, visitors can join volunteers on sunrise walks of the beach in search of turtle nests. 

St. Joseph State Park is currently open to day-use visitors, with plans to reopen camping sites and cabins for overnight stay once they recover fully from damage caused by Hurricane Michael. Popular park activities include boating, paddling, shelling, swimming, and birding. In fact, the park is documented as the most productive shorebird nesting beach on the Panhandle.

Cape San Blas kayaking
Credit: Colin Hackley

Where to Eat

Many of our fondest vacation memories are made around the dinner table. In Cape San Blas, there are several worthy backdrops for making those memories. With rows of outdoor picnic tables and a humble seafood shack exterior, Skully's Low Country Boil certainly fits the area's laidback vibes. Choose between three menu options: fresh Gulf shrimp, Southern-style gumbo, or a low country boil with peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp, red potatoes, sausage, and corn on the cob—then prepare to be wowed. You know it's real when you can order your boil by the cooler-full to split with a crowd. 

And because no beach vacation is complete without a round (or two!) of after-dinner ice cream, Cape San Blas has Cone Heads 8020. But cones and sundaes are just the tip of the iceberg at this longstanding restaurant. The menu is expansive, offering everything from raw and baked oysters to fresh burgers, seafood baskets, salads, and even steamed crab legs. For an adults-only treat, Cone Heads also has a full liquor bar, plus wine and beer (including the house 30E draft).   

Where to Stay 

You won't find imposing rows of high-rise condos or hotel chains in Cape San Blas, and that's part of why we love the charming beach town so much. Instead, reserve one of the cape's many beachfront vacation homes, which range in size from single-family homes to larger rentals that sleep up to 16 and host their own private heated pools. If you're looking for a single room, book a few days at the Cape San Blas Inn. The bed and breakfast has been around since 1999 and overlooks the St. Joseph Bay with the Gulf's glittering waters just across the street. You'll start each morning with a hearty homecooked breakfast—providing plenty of fuel for when you take the inn's complimentary bikes, canoes, kayaks, and standup paddle boards for a spin.