Located on the Gulf of Mexico along the section of the Florida Panhandle known as the Forgotten Coast, the Apalachicola area combines the best of Florida’s excellent weather, maritime culture, fascinating history, water sports, and other attractions along with a less crowded, laid-back ambiance. Its wide, sandy beaches are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and its clean water and excellent fishing make this area a seafood haven. Here are some of the best locations to look for an Apalachicola vacation rental as you plan your trip.

1. The Town of Apalachicola

Source: Flickr / Siadhal

Once one of the most important fishing ports on the Gulf of Mexico, the town of Apalachicola maintains a busy working waterfront. Shops, galleries, and other trendy businesses have replaced the old warehouses and factories. Daily harvests of fish, shrimp, and shellfish supply restaurants that serve the freshest seafood you can find anywhere. Stroll through the wide, tree-lined streets of the town’s famous Historic District, where more than 900 historically significant homes and other buildings testify to the area’s significant seafaring past. In the center of the Historic District, Lafayette Park is a visual testimony to the maritime era with its gazebo, period lighting and landscaping, and long fishing pier. The Apalachicola Maritime Museum offers a more in-depth look at boatbuilding, sailing, and maritime history.

2. Eastpoint

thick forest near the lake
Source: Flickr / US Forest Service – Southern Region

A U.S. Highway 98 bridge across Apalachicola Bay connects vacation rentals in Eastpoint with the town of Apalachicola. Seafood docks teeming with shrimp and oyster boats line the waterfront, and connoisseurs consider Eastpoint oysters some of the finest in the world. You can fish from the bridge that connects Eastpoint with St. George Island across the bay. To the north, Highway 65 leads to the Apalachicola National Forest and its abundant opportunities for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, boating, and fishing. Eastpoint also hosts the visitor center for the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center, where you can peruse exhibits that highlight local ecology and geology.

3. St. George Island

white sand beach
Source: Rachel Kramer

Vacation rentals on St. George Island have access to some of the finest beaches in the United States. On this incomparably beautiful barrier island, you have the opportunity to observe sea turtles laying their eggs, dolphins frolicking in the water, and migratory birds soaring overhead. Activities include hiking, cycling, sailing, kayaking, and exploring the island by scooter. You can angle from boat or shore for flounders, mackerels, sea bass, sharks, and many other types of fish. At the eastern end of the island is St. George State Park, where you can follow the trails to discover pristine forests, marshes, coves, sand dunes, and shoreline.

4. Carrabelle

Source: Flickr / Jessica

Located a few miles east of Eastpoint along Highway 98, the town of Carrabelle has a deepwater harbor at the mouth of three rivers. From its marinas, you can charter a fishing boat and head upriver, onto the bay, or out into open waters. The nearby forests invite observation of local wildlife such as deer, black bears, blue herons, and eagles. The white sand beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and snorkeling. From Carrabelle, you can also take a boat to Dog Island, a tiny barrier island less than seven miles long with beautiful wide sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and an abundance of shells for collecting.

5. Alligator Point

trees near the beach
Source: Flickr / Rachel Kramer

The community of Alligator Point hosts a marina where you can charter boats for fishing. Its narrow peninsula encloses Alligator Harbor, a shallow estuary renowned for clam harvesting. Nearby Bald Point State Park includes pine woods, marshlands, and beautiful beaches. It offers activities such as swimming, sunbathing, canoeing, windsurfing, and wildlife viewing. The park is a habitat for the rare Florida black bear, and sometimes visitors are able to view bears swimming at the beaches.

6. Panacea

sunset at the seashore
Source: Flickr / Doug Bradley

Long renowned for its natural mineral springs, the town of Panacea sits along pristine Dickerson Bay surrounded by lakes, marshes, and pine forests. Nearby Otter Lake and St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge are birdwatcher’s paradises, with populations of bald eagles, ospreys, storks, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and other rare birds. The Gulf Specimen Aquarium offers an opportunity to observe and even touch local marine life. Fishermen continually supply the markets and restaurants with mouthwatering fresh seafood.

7. Port St. Joe

man at the seaside
Source: Flickr / Chris Khamken

Located west of Apalachicola along Highway 98, vacation rentals at Port St. Joe lie alongside pristine Saint Joseph Bay. Its marina offers a gateway to fishing on the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Its beaches are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and shell collecting. Don’t miss the Historic Downtown Shopping District, where you can peruse the shops, check out local art, and dine at superb seafood restaurants.

8. Mexico Beach

walking turtle at the sea
Source: Flickr / Florida Fish and Wildlife

Vacation rentals at Mexico Beach lie northeast of Port St. Joe along the Gulf Coast. The town offers an abundance of water sports activities such as scuba diving, kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing. Mexico Beach is also renowned for its abundance of wildlife. You can watch pods of dolphins playing in the gulf and various species of sea turtles laying their eggs. For bird watchers, the town features populations of herons, egrets, pelicans, eagles, and osprey.