St. Vincent Island Natl. Wildlife Preserve - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Weekend Trip Report
June 23-25, 2006
Submitted by: natureboy58
I was working in South Alabama, on a 3 week project and, as always, had a Kayak on my truck. Not knowing where I would end up, I hit St George Island purely at random. All the buildings are new (Since Hurricane Dennis) and as I checked in to camp at St. George Island State Park, I found it closed to Camping, still due to Hurricane Damage. I spoke with the Park Ranger and he suggested a private campground at Indian Pass, about 30 Miles to the west.
I got to the campground late Friday evening, I suggest reservations the next time, but got a spot in the trees. The campground is on the Bay Side, mud flats, oyster beds and alligators are the dominate features, or so I thought! As soon as I got out of my truck, I felt an immediate need for my Mosquito Repellant. By the time I found it, my legs and arms were covered almost black with mosquitoes and biting flies. By the time I began to spray myself, parts of my lower legs and arms were bleeding! It was a rude start to what turned out to be my favorite Sea Kayak Destination in the Gulf! Just remember to keep the spray and spare cans, wipes, etc. handy for when you're on the bay side. A county Mosquito truck came through every evening around sunset, the sheer numbers dropped noticeably after each pass.
The Camp has a nice store with a little of everything you might need but primarily caters to fishermen. There is a very busy boat ramp there, many boats put in and head to sea, returning with tons of fish.
I gathered all the gear I might need if I get stuck for the night, into the hatches of my Necky Zoar, and on deck. Paddling with the tide is advised, the narrow cut at Indian Pass can have very strong current. The boats have to go out due west for about a mile to avoid foundering on low-tide sand bars. I shot out of the pass and cut left across the sandbar breakers. If the waves are not too bad it's easy to stay close to shore around the sand point on the west end of St Vincent Island. Then, once clear of the offshore sandbar, paddle straight out through the breakers and turn left along the shore, heading East.
The Island before you is 9 miles long on the Ocean Side with beautiful pristine white sand beaches, areas of high dunes and other areas where the pines come right down to the beach. There are numerous trails and some hilly terrain along St. Vincent, which at one point is 5 miles across, I recommend a trail map before going out, which can be picked up at the camp store (Free).
Huge flocks of Pelicans, Fish Everywhere, the water itself is teaming with life, LARGE fish breaking the surface all around! There are virtually no mosquitoes on the ocean side beach, though you will find plenty in the dunes and trails of the island.
There is a pontoon type shuttle for people who want to go to the island, the few who take it hang out right at the west end. This left the rest of the island to me! Being a nudist, I really enjoyed the miles of clean, secluded beach, swimming and enjoying the sun, then paddling back Saturday afternoon. I had to dodge a thunder storm on the way back, but it was brief and very refreshing.
Bring a small screen shelter if you have to run up off the beach due to lightning, the Eureka! Sun Shelter I had was perfect, I jumped in it (the screens protecting me from the insects in the dunes) and zipped it up till the lightning storm passed to sea. If you don't put up the poles, you can actually wear it like a mosquito suit and walk around in it, good for snuggling into a low spot to keep out of trouble for a few minutes.
Back at camp, I got a hot shower. Then I headed into the Beautiful little town of Apalachicola (about 20 miles east) for the worlds greatest oysters at Boss Oyster! Oh man, they are not to be missed.....and what a fun place to enjoy your evening!
My Sunday Trip was just as fantastic, though I did have to drive North for Monday Work, later in the evening. I will definitely be back; miles of clean private beach await!
Author's Note -- If you go: Just Watch the Tides, be prepared to stake your boat out high and dry if you venture inland!
Necky Zoar, 17' Sea Kayak, Foot Steering system, 10 yrs old and I still love it!
Camping fees and your supplies are all you need, They Stock Plenty of Ice to refill your coolers.
From Port St Joe, South to the Gulf on 30A, it turns left at the ocean, about 3 miles or so you'll come to 30B, which will take you out on Indian Peninsular. Go to the end, you either go into the campground or the water.
I carry Delorme's Atlas and Gazeteer for every state I Paddle in, you should too....wish they made waterproof versions!
Great Products from the Buyers' Guide: