Saint Joe Peninsula
Saint Joe Peninsula offers a canoeing experience different from the rivers and swamps of the southeast. It is a saltwater along the coast of the peninsula. Put-in is at St. Joe Peninsula State Park, and reservations are required. To reach the park take Florida SR 30 just east of the town of Port St. Joe and travel to the state park. There are two landings. The parking area is the usual put-in, but putting in at Eagle Landing will cut some distance from the trip.
The canoe trip is dependent on tidal conditions, and it is best to plan to launch and take out at relatively high tide. Once on the water the paddler will discover that the water is surprisingly shallow. The first part of the trip is along the developed area of the park and runs past the park cabins. After that, it is all wilderness of the beach variety. It is possible to stop anywhere along the beach for rest and relaxation.
Camping is not permitted on the beach itself, but it is only a short carry to the interior of the peninsula where tents can be pitched on the sandy area. There are palms, palmettos, and pines growing, and a lot of tough underbrush. The growth makes it difficult (near impossible) to walk across the peninsula to the gulf side. Downed trees provide ample firewood, but the regualtions regarding campfires are ambiguous. The rules say no campfires, then they say campfires on the interior only. Flashlights and lanterns are banned from May until October for the protection of the turtles.
The canoeist will likely encounter dolphins flipping, mullet jumping, and see fish and aquatic animals in the emerald green shallow water. Birds abound, especially seagulls and pelicans, and there are the usual wading birds and ducks.
Gnats and mosquitoes can be a problem on the beach, so be prepared. There is no fresh water on the peninsula.
The lights of the town of St. Joe are a reminder that this wilderness is not far from civilization. However, it is not common to be annoyed by jet skis and power boats. It is a popular destination for sea kayakers, but it is easy to find an isolated campsite and enjoy the beach.