Escape to T. H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on the North end of Cape San Blas to experience a wildlife haven with beach and bay access, hiking trails, and plenty of activities. To get to the park, just drive all the way to the end of Cape San Blas Road! Entering the park ($6 per car), you’ll be surrounded by gnarly twisted pine trees, battered by years of coastal winds and rain, and saw palm fronds covering the ground.
The pines give way to towering sand dunes on the left, and a gorgeous semi-circle bay on the right! Walk over one of several beach boardwalks and enjoy the powdery sand beaches and gulf waves or suit up for a snorkeling adventure in the bay. In the bay, you can find sea urchins nestled in the seaweed, horseshoe crabs, a variety of small and large fish, hermit crabs, seahorses, blue crabs, and even sea turtles! Traveling by boat to deeper water, you can also find jellyfish and great fishing spots. To go fishing, you’ll need a Florida Saltwater Fishing License.
If you need to purchase or rent equipment, you can visit the conveniently located Scallop Cove Too shop, located next to the beach and bay access parking lot. There, you can rent pontoon boats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, bicycles, dive flags, umbrella and chairs, and more. You can also stock up on snacks, or buy fishing, beach, and snorkel gear.
Continuing into the park, you’ll see bayside salt marshes, the perfect place to do some bird watching, kayaking, and scalloping! There are also several nature trails to check out, including the Maritime Hammock Trail, which winds through maritime Oak communities, pine forests, salt marsh, scrub, and alongside the blue waters of the bay.
You can also check out the Wilderness Preserve Trail, but you’ll need to get a permit from the ranger station at the entrance of the park, as this trail runs through the protected and rare sand pine scrub ecosystem. On this 7-mile primitive trail, there are no restrooms or water fountains, so you must carry in and carry out anything you’ll need. The trail covers 1,750 acres of unspoiled coastal ecosystems, where you’ll see towering sand dunes, pine-framed views of the blue bay waters, and moss-covered grounds.
If you stay alert, you can spot a variety of wildlife along the trail, including deer, all sorts of birds (wading, shore, migratory, and birds of prey), the endangered St. Andrews beach mouse, bobcat, fox, otter, raccoon, squirrels, opossum, coyote, armadillo, and snakes.
From water sports and nature hikes, to relaxing and camping, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is one place on Cape San Blas you won’t want to miss!