St. Joseph Bay - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Port St. Joe, FL
Submitted by: Paula
The Bay of St. Joseph is beautifully pristine. Dolphins often frequent the area (seasonal) and spring through fall there are many fish. If you launch at the Frank Pate Park boat ramp (free with parking and nearby restrooms), you can follow the shoreline to the left. As the water leaves Highway 98, it veers to the right along towards the Cape. Looking at a break in the trees, there is an entrance to a very quaint lagoon. Mullet are thick throughout the lagoon (seasonal), and I even saw live starfish in the tall grasses in the lagoon entrance one time.
Because the Bay is fairly shallow, there are times the waves and wind become intense. There is a bottle neck effect as the tide comes in and goes out, since at the tip of Cape San Blas, there is a two to three mile crossing versus the widest part of the Bay is 7 miles. It's a fun paddle across the Bay, when the weather is right, though not a good paddle for a beginner. The water is VERY clear in the winter. The tip of the Cape is a sanctuary for birds, so watch for signs before landing. My husband caught a tarpon from his Scupper Pro TW one spring near the boat ramp. I caught a 23 1/2 inch trout just past the lagoon from my kayak.
There are a couple of very small islands in the Bay, though Black's Island is private property. They are to the East of the ramp. To the west of the ramp, there is a nice deep water marina, and further west is a bridge. Under this bridge (the intercoastal waterway passes under the bridge) one often finds dolphins feeding at dusk in the spring. The currents are very unpredictable at the mouth of the waterway, so beware of paddling up into the river at that point. (check the tides)
Depot Creek is a great place to paddle, too. It is just east of Port St. Joe following 98 approximately 7 to 8 miles. Look for a fire tower on the left. Turn left on road immediately before fire tower. Follow road a quarter mile or so until it dead ends at what appears to be a small lake. This is Depot Creek. Launch at the boat ramp (free). If you go to the right, you will connect with Lake Wimico at about 5 miles. If you go left, it will lead you to a more primitive, less traveled area. The stream gets narrower, and is possibly closed to any boat but a kayak if the logs have not been cleared from the waterway. Either way, you are apt to find eagles, alligators, fish, and an experience with nature you will never forget. The Cyprus trees are beautiful! At the right time of year, you will also see ducks. The creek is named after an old train depot, the remains of which you can spot along the right bank if you head upriver to the lake. The current is gentle, and the paddle is easy, except when you run into a large alligator, which I have done near the lake at a 90 degree turn in the creek.
There is a great place to camp at Cape San Blas. There are also several spots at Mexico Beach. The beaches in our area are beautiful.
Traveling along Highway 98 one half hour west of Apalachicola or one hour East of Panama City, is the town of Port St. Joe. The park is located along the water next to Capital City Bank. Turn towards the water at Cecil B. Costin Boulevard (at the stoplight).
Stop by the Old Port Theatre and talk to Wade and Paula. We are kayakers and love this area! We'd be happy to suggest other paddling locations on the Gulf Coast, or nearby such as North to the Chipola River.
There is a great book of Rivers of Florida that features many great paddling adventures. Check with any kayak shop in Florida, and you will probably find.
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