St. George Island State Park sits at the edge of Apalachicola Bay, a barrier island separating the brackish water of the estuary from the salty Gulf of Mexico.
As I drove through the entrance gates, life seemed to erupt everywhere I looked. Beginning on the Gulf of Mexico beach, I followed dozens of shorebirds as they ran ahead of my sandy steps. Green waves rolled in, driven forward by the same breezes that ruffled the tops of the sea oats growing atop the dunes.
One of the coolest aspects of the park is its ability to showcase different ecosystems, depending upon which side of the island visitors stand on. From the beach I crossed the street to enter the youth camping area on the opposite shore. One of the park’s many camping options, the youth campground included fire pits surrounded by wooden benches and picnic tables, all with a view of Apalachicola Bay.
Here, pines grew tall instead of sea oats, with a conglomeration of flowering bushes - covered in butterflies - beneath. Blossoms had burst forth like fireworks then faded away, leaving behind seeds and wing-like “fluff” to catch the wind. Spores softly drifted in the air, like a special type of Florida snow.
While I took in the view, an adult class from the nearby Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve arrived and began setting down equipment on one of the picnic tables. Numbering six or seven, the group had spent the afternoon learning about famous Apalachicola Bay oysters, and were now using the park as a living classroom. Pulling on long wading boots and gloves, the class followed an instructor into the shallow water of the bay, reaching into the water to pull up great chunks of oyster shells to marvel at their heft and rough exterior.
Back in the actual classroom, the class then dissected the oysters they gathered to learn how they grow and spawn, and I guarantee they will never see oysters the same way again! If visitors want to learn more about the park - outside of official classes - two interpretive exhibits are open at the campground, and include information on local shells, turpentine, and more.
See all the Firsthand Florida Fun blog posts and plan your Florida State Park adventure!
About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time.