The Forgotten Coast: Cape San Blas

It’s known as Florida’s Forgotten Coast for a reason: Miles of pristine white sandy beaches and clear blue ocean water, without the crowds! Sound relaxing?

Cape San Blas is a peninsula off the Florida panhandle, jetting out into the scenic Gulf of Mexico. With miles of uncrowded dog-friendly beaches and beautiful state parks, this 20-mile long cape is the perfect escape for couples, families, friends, and pets! Cape San Blas is unique: on one side is the Gulf of Mexico with gorgeous beaches, and on the other side is St. Joseph Bay, a wildlife refuge and snorkeler’s dream!

There are plenty of things to do, from spending time on the gorgeous beaches and watching vibrant sunsets, to enjoying water sports in St. Joseph Bay and trying out the local seafood.

During your visit to the cape, here are some things you can enjoy:

  • Relax on miles of uncrowded white sand beaches
  • Sail, body board, and swim in the gulf
  • Snorkel, stand-up paddle board, kayak, and go boating in St. Joseph Bay
  • Ocean and bay fishing and scalloping (you’ll need a fishing license)
  • Eat at one of the many local restaurants with fresh Florida seafood
  • Visit T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
  • Go hiking, shelling, or snorkeling in the park
  • Visit the Cape San Blas lighthouse
  • Walk or bike on the multi-use paved trails along the cape
  • Enjoy the Monarch butterfly migration during the Fall
  • Spot wildlife like dolphins, birds, and deer

You won’t find any hotels on the cape, and very few condos are available. Your best bet for staying on Cape San Blas is a townhouse or single-family home rental. Renting a single-family home can be prohibitively expensive, with prices for a week-long stay costing up to several thousand, and most book up months in advance. But don’t worry, there’s a much more reasonably priced option for accommodation on the cape: a townhouse!

With a townhouse rental, you get access to the same beautiful beaches and picturesque sunsets, and for a much lower price! One of the most sought after townhouse communities on the cape is Barrier Dunes, a private gated neighborhood with a swimming pool, tennis courts, beach access, and gazebo, along with beautiful gardens and ponds, all right next to the state park!

Stepped on a Pop-Tart is a townhouse in the Barrier Dunes community, with beach and ocean views, only a few steps away from the white sand beaches! For more information on this rental, visit the information page.

T.H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

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!

Our Story: Stepped on a Pop-Tart

Our family has been visiting Cape San Blas for more than a decade, and when our kids were younger, we would make the drive from our home in Georgia down to the cape every summer. During the drive every year, we liked to play Jimmy Buffett music, including the song “Margaritaville.” If you haven’t heard the song before, you can listen to it here, or watch the video below.


Toward the middle, the song lyrics say:

I blew out my flip-flop

Stepped on a pop-top

Cut my heel had to cruise on back home

But there’s booze in the blender

And soon it will render

That Frozen concoction that helps me hang on

In his song Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett is talking about a pop-top, like the ones you used to pull completely off of soda or beer cans, leaving a sharp piece of metal that people often threw on the ground. This was before modern day soda cans were invented in the late 1970s. Jimmy Buffett stepped on one of these after blowing out his flip-flop, and had to go home to take care of the cut on his heel. He decided to have a margarita to help ward off the pain from his minor injury.

If you listen to the song, it can be hard to make out exactly what he’s saying. So for years, every summer when we drove down to Cape San Blas with our kids and Margaritaville came on the radio, they would sing “Stepped on a Pop-Tart” instead of “pop-top”. They wondered how Jimmy Buffett could hurt his foot stepping on a Pop-Tart, but when I tried to explain that he was saying “pop-top”, they didn’t understand. Having never heard of a pop-top, they just decided to stick with their own version of the song!

Since vacationing at Cape San Blas is so important to our family, when we purchased our vacation townhome, we named it “Stepped on a Pop-Tart” and started leaving all of our guests a box of Pop-Tarts to enjoy when they arrive. After a long drive to get to the beach, the last thing you want to do is get back in the car to drive for breakfast the next morning!

We hope you enjoy your stay at our townhouse, and you can thank our kids for the free Pop-Tarts! If you love your stay at Stepped on a Pop-Tart, please remember us for your next trip, and visit us at SteppedOnAPopTart.com!

Unforgettable Cape San Blas Sunsets

If you’ve ever visited Cape San Blas before, you’ll know what we’re talking about when we say the sunsets here are unbelievable. If the sky is clear or partly cloudy, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see an unforgettable sunset!

They usually start with pastel colors, and gradually shift into more vibrant streaks of red, purple, orange, and yellow, as the sun sets over the ocean horizon. During your visit, be sure to check when sunset is each night, and plan to spend an hour or so watching the sky change colors with a cold drink in hand!

And once the sun sets, you can look up to the night sky for some of the best stargazing in the South. With very little light pollution, you can see layers and layers of stars, and if you’re lucky enough to look up when the crescent moon is small and the sky is darker, you can even spot our galaxy, the Milky Way!

Cape San Blas Shops and Restaurants

Here’s a look at some of the shops and restaurants on Cape San Blas!

Scallop Cove

  • Gas station
  • Groceries, cooking supplies, ice
  • Beer and wine, draft beer on tap
  • Breakfast, lunch, & dinner cafe
  • Blue Bell ice cream
  • Beach supplies like goggles, snorkels, toys, water shoes & inflatables
  • Souvenirs, clothes, & T-Shirts
  • Onsite Coin Laundry
  • Firewood
  • Free Wifi
  • Rentals: water sports, umbrella and chairs, bikes, BBQ, stand-up paddle board, body board, skim board
  • Bait and Tackle shop and fishing licenses

 

Cape Trading Post

  • Breakfast, lunch, & dinner cafe
  • Ice cream
  • General groceries, cooking supplies, fresh meats, ice
  • Souvenirs & T-Shirts
  • Flip-Flops
  • Beach gear like goggles, snorkels, inflatables, & water shoes
  • Hats
  • Basic fishing gear
  • Fully stocked liquor store
  • Coffee, donut, & ice cream mini-shops

 

Beach Planet

  • Souvenirs
  • T-Shirts, clothes, bathing suits
  • Beach toys, inflatables
  • Flip-flops, water shoes
  • Boogie Boards
  • Towels

 

St. Joe Shrimp

  • Fresh local seafood including bay/sea scallops, freshly caught fish, crab
  • Seafood seasonings and hot sauces
  • Shells and souvenirs

 

Scallop Cove Too

  • Rentals: kayak, canoe, stand-up paddle board, umbrella & chairs
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Frozen bait and fishing tackle
  • Souvenirs
  • Camping & RV accessories
  • Essential groceries, ice
  • Free Wifi

 

Weber’s Little Donut Shop

  • Serves fresh homemade donuts Tuesday to Saturday starting at 7:30 a.m.

 

Peachy’s Beach Eats

  • Casual BBQ and seafood restaurant

 

Skully’s Low Country Boil

  • Casual low country boil restaurant

 

Cone Heads

  • Casual seafood, burgers, pizza, soups, & salads
  • Alcoholic drinks/bar
  • Ice cream shop
  • Souvenir shop downstairs

 

Sand Bucket Smokehouse

  • Casual BBQ, ribs, seafood, sandwich, & salad
  • Homemade desserts

 

Scallop Republic

  • Florida craft beer (12 on tap)
  • Wine and beer
  • Live music, open mic, entertainment
  • Bring your own food

 

Two-bit Stable and Horseback Riding

  • Reservations
  • Sunset and daytime horseback rides
  • Photo packages

 

Happy Ours Kayak and Bike Rentals

  • Kayak, canoe, bike, and paddle board rentals
  • Guided kayak tours