Experiences & Amenities
Bicycles are welcome at the park, which has over 2 miles of paved road shared with motorists. Just outside the park there is a 10-mile bike trail that borders County Road 30 East.
- Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
St. Joseph Peninsula is an excellent location to bird-watch. Numerous species of wading birds, shorebirds, migratory birds and birds of prey inhabit or rest at the park during their migration north and south.
The park is documented as the most productive shorebird nesting beach in the Florida Panhandle.
The clear water of St. Joseph Bay; the deep-water access from the park; great fishing and snorkeling; and easy access to off-shore reefs and fishing attracts a large boating crowd. Knowledge of local waters is required.
- Please be cautious of changing tides and water depth, and do not damage seagrass or other sensitive marine habitat.
- The park provides an accessible route around the marina basin to the restrooms, concession, fish cleaning station, rinse/shower station and beach.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers 14 primitive campsites in the Wilderness Preserve area of the park. These sites are tucked away in some of the more pristine and beautiful areas of the park. Three sites are located within the first mile from the entrance. Site #14 is six miles from the entrance.
The sites do not have any water or electricity, so please bring plenty of drinking water with you. A water-fill station is provided at the entrance to the Wilderness Preserve.
Each site is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. The sites accommodate up to four people. The sites are pack-in, pack-out, including any trash that is generated. Pets are allowed at the campsites in accordance with our Pet Policy.
These primitive camping sites are not accessible by vehicle. However, sites #3, #11, #12 and #14 can be reached by kayak. A kayak launch is located at the gate to the Wilderness Preserve.
We follow Leave No Trace principles.
- Reservations are required and can be made by calling the park at 850-227-1327. Payment is collected at the time of arrival.
- The fee is $5 per night, per person.
- Campers must arrive at the park two hours before sunset to allow enough time to register and safely get to the site before dark.
Youth/group tent camping is available for organized groups up to 30. 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 up to 60 days in advance of arrival for juvenile groups and up to 30 days in advance of arrival for adult groups. Juvenile group requests will not bump a prior adult group reservation made within the 30-day window.
- For reservations, please call the park at 850-227-1327.
- For more information, see our group reservation handout.
Fish caught in the waters around the park include speckled trout, red drum, flounder, mullet, bluefish, whiting and shark. Spear fishing is not permitted in the park. Scalloping is extremely popular during the summer months.
Scuba diving is limited at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park; however, there is excellent scuba diving off shore. The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association has placed several artificial reefs and wrecks off shore just north of the park.
There are dive trips offered locally and several captains ready to take you diving on that special spot.
Shelling is popular at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. With both Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay beach access, shelling opportunities are abundant. Try shelling at different times of the year to see a variety of shells.
- Shelling is best at low tide and after storm activity.
- Collect only a few shells. Do not take live shells.
Both the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay are excellent places to swim, and the waters are clear and relatively shallow.
- There are no lifeguards on duty and you should be familiar with the risk associated with swimming in open water.
- Rip tides and marine hazards can cause harm and at times be deadly.
- Be sure to take a friend and let others know your plans, and it is always best to wear a lifejacket or carry flotation when swimming in open waters.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a lovely place to have a wedding. The most popular location is beach side at sunset.
Planning your wedding in the morning? Eagle Harbor area would be a great place with the sun rising over the bay. The park is ideally positioned facing the sunset on the beach side and the sunrise on the bay side.
- For information and fees for weddings at the park, contact the park office at 850-227-1327.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers an excellent opportunity to observe wildlife. Deer are commonly viewed along the park drive. Bobcat, fox, otter, raccoon, squirrels, opossum, coyote and armadillo are just a few animals you may chance to see.
Shorebirds and wading birds rest, nest and feed at the park. Sea turtles come onto the beach during the summer to lay their eggs. In the fall and spring, the park is a much needed stop for migrating birds and butterflies. The park is one of the many stops listed on the Florida Birding Trail.
In 2002, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park was named No. 1 beach in the nation by Dr. Beach. Having been rated No. 1, it cannot be rated again but remains on the list of top-rated beaches.
The park offers white sandy beaches and some of the tallest sand dunes in the state. Swimming, fishing, shelling, snorkeling and just relaxing on the beach are the most popular activities. Sea turtle and shorebirds nest on the beach in summer months.
- Please stay off the dunes, and do not disturb sea turtle nests or enter shorebird nesting areas.
- Pets are not permitted on the beach at the state park but are permitted on public beaches outside of the park. Review our pet policy for more information.
- Visitors to coastal parks are reminded to pay close attention to the Warning Flag Signs posted at welcome stations and on the beaches. These flags indicate the swimming conditions at the beach:
Double red flags mean absolutely no swimming because of high winds and undertow currents
- Red flag means high hazards, such as high surf and/or strong currents, swim at your own risk. Knee deep is too deep.
- Yellow flag means swim with caution and stay close to shore
- Green flag means that the waters are safe
- Purple flag means that marine pests are present.
- The park has an accessible route to the beach and also offers a beach wheelchair and an electric mobility device to access the beach. These amenities are offered first-come, first-served. Arrangements for use of these devices can be made at the ranger station or by calling 850-227-1327.
- Please use caution as lifeguards are not provided.
A paved ramp and deep water access can accommodate most vessels on a trailer. The park has a marina basin that has limited space. Accessible picnic area, route to the beach, cold water outdoor rinse station, fish cleaning station and restrooms can also be found near the boat ramp.
- Parking is limited, and a $5 fee (in addition to the general park admission fee) is required to launch your boat at the park.
Eight air-conditioned vacation cabins are available for overnight stays in the park. Each one bedroom/one bathroom cabin offers sleeping accommodations for six people. The loft features two full-sized beds and a futon. Linens are provided.
Downstairs, two sofas flank the fireplace. An eat-in kitchen has a stove, refrigerator, microwave and dishes for your use. A screen porch faces St. Joseph Bay. Each cabin has a boardwalk and overlook at the water’s edge.
Cabin #5 is accessible. This one bedroom/one bathroom offers sleeping accommodations for six people. The bedroom and bathroom are downstairs. This cabin offers three queen-sized beds.
- Televisions and phones are not provided.
- Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Visit the Florida State Parks reservations website or call 800-326-3521.
- Pets are not permitted in cabins or cabin areas. Service animals are welcome; please let us know that you have a service animal at the time of arrival.
- There is a minimum two-night stay for all reservations.
The Scallop Cove Too concession is accessible to all and offers food, snacks, drinks, groceries, beach supplies, boating and fishing supplies, camping supplies and beach rentals. They also rent pontoon boats, kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and dive flags. For more information or to make a reservation, visit Scallop Cove Too.
Pets are not allowed on beaches, along the natural shoreline, in picnic shelters, in the restrooms or in the wilderness area. In the areas where pets are allowed, they must be on a six-foot hand-held leash and be well behaved at all times. For more information, see the official Pet Policy.