While some T-Birds stayed Cedar over spring break, others had the opportunity to travel around the country and the world. I had the pleasure of visiting two state parks in Florida. St. George Island, in the Florida Panhandle, is a short 30-minute drive from Apalachicola across a bridge spanning the Apalachicola Bay.
When you first arrive on the island, a historic lighthouse in the center of town welcomes you. A small town with beach homes and condos lie on either side of the lighthouse. As you drive to the east, the town soon fades away into a desolate beach known formally as the St. George Island State Park.
The park offers a glimpse of what the state of Florida may have looked like before the early 1500s when the Spanish discovered and colonized it. The towering hotels, pier and overpriced shell shops are nowhere in sight.
Apalachicola Bay lies on one side of the island and the Gulf of Mexico borders the other. The bay side of the island is part of the Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve and home to many animals including Bald Eagles and Ospreys. On the gulf side, towering white sand dunes held together by many types of vegetation greet visitors. The dunes fade away into an all-natural beach and then a clear blue ocean, the type the Gulf of Mexico is known for.
The state park offers several outdoor, ocean-related activities for visitors, one of the most prominent attraction being wildlife viewing. Whether your interests include viewing birds, reptiles or marine mammals, the park has opportunities to view all of them. During certain times of the year, the park is even home to nesting sea turtles.
Another popular activity on the island is fishing. The park offers a small boat ramp, however, you can also fish from the shore.
A third activity is one that may seem odd or misplaced at the beach: hiking. There are several trails in the park that take guests through small pine forests and dunes leading to platforms offering views of the bay shoreline.
With wildlife, desolate landscapes and open ocean sunsets and sunrises, the park is also a popular place for photographers. In addition to these unique activities, there are also more normal beach activities available.
For someone who spends most of their time exploring the canyons, mountains and deserts of Southern Utah, the white sandy beaches and miles of water that St. George Island State Park offer were a nice change of scenery. While you could go to almost any beach and see the same thing, the emptiness and natural feel that St. George Island provides is something you have to experience to understand.
With that, I highly encourage anyone traveling to the sunshine state over the summer to make a detour and experience the island for yourself.