We’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling lately and loving every minute of it. Recently Dave and I went on a press trip where flight, accommodations, meals, and activities were provided to Gulf County Florida and we had such an amazing time we put it on the top of our list as favorite vacation destinations.
When I was researching the trip, I learned that Gulf County is a very different place – the entire county only has 2 stoplights! They also have an average population density of 24 people per square mile. After our plane touched down in Panama City Beach and we drove over the county line, we knew we had found a little piece of paradise. The more time we spent there the more we discovered what a hidden gem the location and were amazed at all it has to offer.
While there are many reasons to visit Gulf County, here are my top 5.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
The area is home to one of the highest densities of nesting sea turtles in the Florida panhandle. Loggerhead turtle nesting begins May 1st through the end of October and during this time you can walk the beach with the St. Joseph Peninsula Turtle Patrol. We had a chance to do this and on our walk we found a nest where there was one little hatchling left still trying to climb his way out of the nest. The volunteer gave him a bit of hand and got him on the beach where he began his journey. It was an incredible sight to see and one I’ll never forget.
Here’s a Vine video I was able to take of the little guy making his way to the Gulf:
The volunteers survey the beaches daily and they are kind, passionate, and extremely knowledgeable. This was a remarkable experience and one that will stay with us for years to come.
While out on a sunset cruise we were greeted by a friendly dolphin playing in the water. We enjoyed watching him bob up and down and he even posed for a photo or two. I was able to get a Vine video of him as well.
When I asked our tour guide how often they see dolphins, he said that nearly every time they go boating they see them. I also found quite a few YouTube videos where visitors shared moments of dolphins playing in the Gulf. We saw this dolphin when we weren’t even looking for him and I can’t wait to return with the kids and take them out boating in the hopes we’ll see more dolphins.
If you love shelling, Gulf County is the place to be. There are a number of beaches and they have a wide variety shells. During your visit be sure to check a tide chart and head out at low tide. We didn’t have to look hard to find these beauties.
Scallop season is generally from July 1st – September 24th. You can wade out into the shallow waters to find them or use a mask & snorkel, there are even boat charters that will take you out as well. It’s a fun activity for the whole family and it’s like a treasure hunt as everyone tries to fill their bucket. There are a few rules in place to keep the scallops from becoming overharvested so be sure to check those out ahead of time. Once you are out in the water, have fun and when you are ready to call it a day head to one of the local restaurants where they will cook your catch for you.
In celebration of the season, there is also an annual Scallop Festival that is full of family friendly activities, good food, live music, and shopping from local artisans available. It’s a fantastic and fun event and one not to be missed especially if you love scallops.
On our trip we watched some of the most breathtaking sunsets we had ever seen. The colors were brilliant and vibrant whether we viewed them from a sunset cruise or from the beach near our vacation home. Every evening we were blown away by the beauty of the sky as the sun went down.
Here’s a look at just some of the stunning sunsets we saw. The social media hashtag for Gulf County is #GCFLnofilter and in keeping with that theme and to show you the natural artistry of the sunsets, I did not retouch these photos.
We enjoyed our time on this trip so much that we can’t wait to return and to bring our children and extended family members along as well. As you can see above, it’s a wonderful place to connect with nature and with many opportunities to capture memorable moments that will last a lifetime.
- Check out VisitGulf.com
- Follow @gulfcountyfl on Twitter
- Like Gulf County Florida on Facebook
- Follow Gulf County on Instagram
- Follow the #GCFLNoFilter Hashtag on Twitter
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