If you are looking for a beach destination where you can rest, relax and enjoy the wonders of nature, then the T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is the place for you.
Located just an hour from Panama City, this stunning coastal oasis stretches for 20 spectacular miles as it merges into the Gulf of Mexico’s sparkling waters.
Formerly home to a couple of Native American communities, the US government used the area for military training in the 1940s. In 1967 it officially opened as a state park and was named in honor of T. H. Stone, whose family owned the land in the late 1860s.
Today this Florida state park is known for its tall sand dunes and stunning white beaches. As well as being a popular day trip destination for those who enjoy swimming, surfing, snorkeling, fishing and paddling.
It is also regarded as a terrific place for birding and has two excellent campgrounds for those who want to stay for a few days.
Visitors to this state park can enjoy the beach’s stoic surroundings and beautiful scenery in a myriad of ways.
Outlined below is a brief outline of some of the main recreational activities you can enjoy during your time there.
Paddling at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
The Gulf of Mexico is a very popular spot all year round for canoeing, kayaking and SUP.
Guests can launch themselves into the bay area via the park’s ramp area. Alternatively, if they are up to it, they can carry their watercraft onto the beach and set off from there.
If you are not a confident paddler you should stick to the area around St Joseph’s Bay which is fairly shallow and quite opaque.
For those who don’t own a watercraft, you may be able to rent one from the park, depending on the time of year you visit.
Swimming and surfing at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
With miles of spectacular beach at their disposal, many people take the opportunity to swim at the park.
The surf is quite decent if you fancy riding some waves. However, as it is not lifeguarded you will need to exercise caution when you enter the water. For this reason you might want to head over to St. Joseph Bay.
Scuba diving and Snorkeling at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
If you would like to venture under the water, the park provides opportunities for both scuba diving and snorkeling.
Again, the most popular areas to do this are at St. Joseph Bay. If you do venture there, it is imperative you display a visible dive flag. You will also need to stay within a distance of 25 feet from the flag.
Whilst under the water you should remember that interfering with marine life or collective live shells is not permitted.
Fishing at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
As you would imagine, fishing is a well practiced activity, with anglers coming from Panama City, Tallahassee and beyond for the opportunity to cast a line it is stunning turquoise waters.
A known hotspot for fishing, you can do this on both of the park’s sides. You may need a licence, so it is best to check with the park prior to your visit.
Once you have been given the green light though, you can expect to catch the likes of flounder, red drum, mullet, bluefish, shark, speckled trout and whiting.
Please note that spear fishing is prohibited. So you will have to stick to more traditional methods.
You will also have to abide by the rules and regulations of the Florida Fishing and Wildlife Commission in terms of the number, size and season too.
Birding at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
If you are into birding, the park is a terrific location to spot a diverse range of species.
The spectacular coastal landscape is home to several birds of prey, as well as breeds of shore, wading and migratory birds.
The beach at the park is actually the most productive nesting beach area for shorebirds in Florida’s panhandle. So if you find a good spot to relax with your binoculars, you should be in for a visual treat.
Pets at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
The park is pet friendly, so you can bring your dog with you on your visit there. However, some conditions on their presence do apply.
To clarify what they are, it is worth contacting the park’s main office.
Camping at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
For those who want to stay overnight, the park offers a total of 101 campsites across two separate sites.
Both the Gulf Breeze and Shady Pines campgrounds are just a stone’s throw from the beach. Offering 69 and 32 campsites respectively, they are all equipped with hookups for water and 30-amp electricity. Each of them also comes with their own fire ring and picnic table.
Between both campgrounds there are four bathhouses. They also share a dump station. As its name suggests the Gulf Breeze Campground is the nearer of the two to the beach. While the Shady Pines campground is a little more private, it also has bigger sites that are more suitable for RV rigs.
Despite being quite remote, cell phone reception should be fairly decent at either destination. Due to its location however, it is recommended you bring plenty of supplies with you during your stay.
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
8899 Cape San Blas Road
Port St Joe, FL 32456
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park: