Franklin County, along Florida's Northern Gulf Coast, is a boater's oasis with hundreds of miles of freshwater creeks, sloughs and rivers that empty into tranquil bays and out to the Gulf of Mexico. Dubbed Florida's Forgotten Coast, the area's pristine bays and Gulf waters support a seafood and water-based ecotourism industry in the coastal communities of Apalachicola, Carrabelle, Eastpoint, Alligator Point and St. George Island.
The area is also growing in popularity with loopers who find the quiet anchorages in this North Florida region a welcome layover on their Gulf Intracoastal leg of the Great Loop waterway journey. Many marinas, docks and anchorage locations along the coast here feature amenities within a mile of the waterfront.
Apalachicola's commercial marina facilities include the Scipio Creek, Water Street and Apalachicola Marina with services available at Scipio Creek and the nearby fuel dock. Public dockage is also available at the Battery Park Marina and other city-owned riverfront docks for small vessels shuttling in from anchorage sites at the mouth of the river.
A layover in Apalachicola is an experience rich in maritime heritage, cuisine and art. More than 900 historic homes and pre-civil war brick warehouses serve as homes, elegant inns, gourmet restaurants and eclectic boutiques and galleries. Everything is walkable here - stroll along the wide tree-lined streets with historic Victorian homes or hole up along the waterfront and enjoy the music scene in pubs and local eateries just blocks from the waterfront.
Across the bay from Apalachicola, Eastpoint features rustic seafood houses, weather-worn docks and fresh seafood markets run by families four generations deep. There are RV parks here, two boat ramps, a full-service bait and tackle shop, fresh seafood restaurants, casual fare and an outdoor BBQ eatery that serves great brisket and steaks!
Just offshore, St. George Island is a 22- mile barrier island that hosts some of Florida's most beautiful and serene beaches. There is a protected anchorage spot on the bayside of St. George Island but don't expect to walk to amenities from this anchorage. However, it's not far from the Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park which boasts some of the best camping facilities in the region. Elsewhere on the island, accommodations range from quaint beach cottages to luxurious beach homes and can be reserved with any of the island's vacation rental companies. Beachfront restaurants and casual fare is available. The historic St. George Island Lighthouse is located at the St. George Island public beach park, and it features great views of the bay and gulf from the top.
Heading east, Carrabelle is about 30 nautical miles from Apalachicola and it's a must stop spot on the coastal rim route for loopers. Carrabelle features three public commercial marinas along the Carrabelle River - Dockside, C-Quarters and The Moorings Marina are all located within walking distance of restaurants, a grocery and sites of interest and all three offer either fuel or service facilities. There is public dockage along the river and a private boat club nearby on Timber Island.
Carrabelle is considered ground zero for fishing enthusiasts because of its easy access to offshore fishing and boating. The town features a natural deep-water harbor plus a nearby renowned golf resort. The nearby Crooked River Lighthouse reminds you of the town's maritime importance and features monthly full moon climbs. The Camp Gordon Johnston Museum tells the story of how troops trained on the salty beaches of Franklin County for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in World War II.
To learn more about Franklin County accommodations, boating, fishing charters, restaurants, and events, visit Floridasforgottencoast.com/waterways.