SGI State Park Beach Ranked #4 Best Beach Nationwide for 2022
By Forgotten Coast Web Team | June 1, 2022
St. George Island’s Dr. Julian G. Bruce State Park has again been voted one of the Top 10 Beaches in the U.S., according to the Dr. Stephen Leatherman (Dr. Beach) annual ranking of beaches in the U.S. The St. George Island Beach scored the Number 4 spot for 2022. This is the second year that the beach park has scored the #4 spot; the eighth year that the nine-mile beach park located at the east end of St. George Island, has made Dr. Beach’s list.
“This long barrier island, far from urban areas, is a favorite destination for beachgoers, anglers and bird watchers as nature abounds. Besides swimming in the crystal-clear water, I enjoy beachcombing and shelling. While St. George Island suffered a big hit in 2018 by Hurricane Michael, the area has substantially recovered, especially the sugary fine, white sand beach. There is much to explore on this serene 2,023-acre park,” according to the Dr. Beach website drbeach.org.
About the St. George Island State Park
Beaches. The park offers nine miles of some of the most pristine beaches along the Gulf coast of Florida. Visitors can access four miles of beach along the park’s main drive. The park has six large picnic shelters equipped with grills, tables and nearby restrooms. The last five miles to the East Pass are accessible only by special permit obtained at the Ranger Station. There are no charges for bicyclists or hikers to this area. Wheelchair accessibility to the water is enhanced by two Mobi-Mats installed at two pull-offs. Two standard beach wheelchairs and a floating wheelchair are available, please inquire at the Ranger Station about availability.
In addition to its beaches, the St. George Island State Park also offers ample opportunities for biking, boating, hiking, camping and nature study
Bicycling – The park has four miles of paved road along the main park drive and a five mile stabilized road that leads to the east end of the island. There are also three and a half miles of nature trails to ride your bicycle on. There is a bicycle path outside of the park that leads to the center of the island. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists under the age of 16. Loaner helmets are available for free at the Ranger Station or from one of the campground hosts.
Birding – St. George Island State Park has many different bird watching opportunities. Almost 300 species of birds have been documented here. While brown pelicans and gulls are commonly seen on the beach, other species including some that are endangered or threatened may also be seen. Species seen include terns, plovers, herons, black skimmers, sandpipers, red knots and ruddy turnstones. On the bayside of the park, sightings of osprey, bald eagles, American oystercatchers and egret are frequently seen. The park is a major area associated with the spring and fall migration of neo-tropical birds and raptors and include hawks, falcons, tanagers, grossbeaks, warblers and buntings. Popular areas for birding include the main park drive looking over the coastal grasslands and also the youth/group camp area in the maritime hammock.
Boating – There are two natural, not paved or maintained, ramps for boat access to Apalachicola Bay. Anglers can fish for flounder, redfish, sea trout, pompano, whiting, Spanish mackerel and other fish off the beach or in the bay. One ramp is located at the Youth/Group Camp area and the other is 2.5 miles from the entrance station at East Slough. Both ramps are restricted to small craft less than 24 feet in length with shallow draft. Launch fees are applicable. Two natural ramps provide access to the bay for canoes and kayaks. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the ranger station.
Hiking – The park features three segmented hiking trails – all part of one 2.5-mile trail to Gap Point which begins in the campground and meanders through the pine flatwood forest to the bay. The trail features boardwalks, resting benches and resource information.
Geocaching – Geocaches are hidden in the park. Please check Geocaching.com for the most current up to date information. The St. George State Park recently became part of a statewide geocaching endeavor called Operation GeoTour. This GeoTour stretches from Pensacola to Key West and includes 74 Florida State Parks and Trails. Participants who collect 40 geocaches from the statewide trail are eligible to receive a commemorative coin.
Let’s Camp at the Beach!
Many visitors think of the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park as just a secluded beach perfect for a quiet weekend stroll. However, this 1,962 acre park offers a full facility family campground that would rival some of the best campgrounds in the region. The park features 60 campsites, a playground, electricity, water hookups and dump station nearby. Two buildings provide hot showers and restrooms. The park also has a youth camp available for group camping. Two primitive campsites can be accessed by a 2.5-mile trail or by canoe or kayak. A group camp area is available for scouts and other organized groups. The three camping areas within the park are outlined below.
Full facilities – Although there are no ocean or Gulf views, these campsites are only a quarter mile from the beach and the Gulf. There are two restrooms with hot showers, a playground and a linear nature trail that meanders from the campground through the pine forests and coastal scrub. Pets are welcome but must be kept on a six foot leash controlled by the pet’s owner. Pets are not allowed on the beach or in any facilities. There are six concrete campsites with connecting sidewalks to the restroom facilities. Maximum RV length is 43 ft. Reservations for the full facilities camp area may be made up to 11 months in advance through Reserve America at ReserveAmerica.com.
Primitive Facilities – Primitive “carry in, carry out” camping at Gap Point is accessible only by foot, via the 2.5-mile Gap Point Trail, or by canoe, kayak or other shallow drafting vessel. These two sites accommodate 12 people each. Campers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. There are no restrooms, fresh water, shower or other amenities at the primitive campsites. Arrangements to camp in the primitive camp sites must be made in advance through the park office at (850) 927-2111.
Camping Youth – Youth/Group tent camping is available for organized groups up to 25 or a minimum of six people. Chaperones must remain with the group at all times. Restrooms, cold water showers, picnic tables and a campfire circle are available at the Youth/Group Camp. Reservations can be made through the park up to 60 days in advance of arrival for juvenile groups and up to 30 days in advance of arrival for adult groups.
The St. George Island State Park Beach is one of a string of many beaches in Franklin County. Total, Franklin County features more than 250 miles of beach. To learn more about each of the county’s beaches and amenities, visit FloridasForgottenCoast.com.