When my mother-in-law, Sandy, mentioned back in March that she wanted to take her entire family on a trip to the beach, I immediately got excited. In April, Sandy celebrated a milestone birthday. If I told you how old she turned you wouldn’t believe it…. and she might disown me so we will keep that a secret! No proper Southern woman ever discloses her age. And everyone in the South has been taught you are never to ask. Sandy is beautiful, relaxed and laid back, just like the beach, so an easy-going vacation with all her children and grandchildren was just the gift she needed for her special birthday.
My most treasured memories from Cape San Blas are of watching my two boys play in the ocean on the shallow sandbars as the sun set in the background. The sunsets were truly captivating. Time moves slower on Cape San Blas. Many nights I had no idea what time it was. I let the sun be my watch. Dinners were always served al fresco on the porch just as the sun began to set. There was no hurry to finish quickly, clean the table, and get the kids ready for bed. We stayed up late, made massive bon fires on the beach, roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed each other’s company. Disconnecting from the hustle bustle recharged my soul.
Why Cape San Blas
Cape San Blas is a remote 17 mile long barrier peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico located between Panama City and Apalachicola. Cape San Blas curves around the St. Joseph bay. The smooth, shallow water on the Bay side and white sand beaches on the Gulf side, make Cape San Blas a perfect destination because there is something for everyone to enjoy. The water on the Gulf side is clear and beautiful with small waves, making it a perfect spot for little kids to play and have fun in the water.
Paddle boarding and kayaking in the bay is a must. We rented Kayaks and Paddle Boards from Sand Flea Rentals. They delivered them to our house. We paddle boarded the gulf early in the mornings before the surf came in and kayaked the bay in the afternoons. The bay is teaming with wild life. We spotted birds, stingrays, and numerous different varieties of fish. The water in the bay is so smooth. Little A fished straight off the back of his kayak. Although he didn’t catch anything, he had a great time. We were hoping to spot some nurse sharks in the bay. Supposedly the bay is teaming with them. I paddled over to a lady who had been fishing in her kayak all day and asked if she had seen any. She in fact said she had just seen one the size of her kayak. YIKES! Supposedly they are harmless, but I wasn’t interested in finding out. While little A on the other hand was trying to spot and catch one!
Cape San Blas is very remote. There are no high rise hotels on the peninsula, only privately owned homes dot the gulf shore. Cape San Blas doesn’t have the business and entertainment of a typical old beach town, but the quiet solitude of the cape was exactly what we were looking for.
Cape San Blas is also home to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. The park is located at the very end of the peninsula. It is a nature and adventure lovers paradise. Visitors can camp and cook out or scallop the bay and kayak the gulf for the day like we did. Since Cape San Blas and Port St. Joe is one of the only places in Florida where you can find bay scallops, people from all over the world come to snorkel the shallow waters and wade through the soft grassy flats. Scalloping season begins July 1st. We were there just in time for Little A to take part in the fun adventure of searching for the elusive mollusks.
Where We Stayed
There are no hotels in Cape San Blas. We used VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owners) to secure a house to stay in along the beach. If your family likes camping, you could also stay at the State Park, as they have campsites with water and electricity or fully furnished cabins complete with fireplaces. For those looking for a less woodsy experience, I definitely recommend using VRBO or Airbnb to find a house by the gulf or bay. For our big family, a large home on the beach was just what we needed.
What We Ate
Since Cape San Blas is remote, there are very few restaurants to choose from. We didn’t see this as problem because Sandy and all of her 3 children love to cook. We enjoyed long days at the beach. We slowly trickled up to the house to make dinner as the sun began to set each evening. There was no fuss or hurry, no rush to get all the kids in the shower and dressed in matching outfits. (That’s a bit of a fib….I did make my boys dress in matching outfits a few nights so I could snap some pics of them on the beach.)
Some of my favorite dishes that we made were a special guacamole with pico de gallo on the side, cool creamy no-bake crab dip, fried grouper fish sticks, and refreshing vodka tonics.
We ventured to Weber’s Little Donut Shop for fresh fried donuts almost every morning. We couldn’t resist. The fried croissants were mind blowing. Imagine buttery, flakey layers or soft yet crunchy goodness. My mouth is watering thinking about them. I suppose they are similar to the cronut, which I am still dying to try.
As the end of the week approached we decided eating out would give us a change of scenery. I read about Indian Pass Raw Bar in Southern Living a few years back. A small restaurant just on the side of the road, the raw bar is filled with oysters and crab legs and runs on an honor system; they hand you a checklist when you arrive, you check off what you grab out of the cooler, and you pay the bill at the end. The atmosphere was perfect for kids……loud and laid back. And the kids loved the huge Connect 4 Game outside on the covered porch.