Kayaking at St. Vincent Island on Florida’s Forgotten Coast



Located near the city of Apalachicola, Fla, and across the Saint Vincent Sound is the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, a 12,300 acre undeveloped barrier island teeming with both native and exotic wildlife. There are no roads leading to the island making this a perfect destination for paddling enthusiasts. St. Vincent Island lies in Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” and is part of the Florida’s Saltwater Circumnavigational Paddling Trail which stretches 1,515 miles.

Sea Oats and Sand Dunes on St. Vincent Island, Florida

Life on St. Vincent NWF

Upon arriving at the island by kayak or shuttle boat, visitors will find a network of sand and oyster shell roads running the length of this nine mile long barrier island, allowing them access by foot or bicycle to the interior of the island where they are free to explore the diverse ecosystem ranging from live oak, mixed-hardwoods, slash pine, cabbage palm and coastal scrub to salt marsh and freshwater lakes. Indian artifacts can sometimes be found along the shoreline, but visitors should be aware that it is illegal to remove artifacts.

Sambar Deer on the Trail at St. Vincent Island, Fla

Upon arriving at the island visitors will have the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife such as the endangered red wolf and the exotic 600 lb Sambar deer. The island is home to over 25 species of mammal, 51 species of reptile and amphibian, 39 species of fish as well as an extensive assortment of birds. Some common animals found on the island include the nine-banded armadillo, bald eagle, American alligator, wood stork, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Atlantic bottle-nosed and rough-toothed dolphin, river otter and feral hog.

How to Reach St. Vincent Island

Paddlers seeking to reach the island should familiarize themselves with the winds and tides before venturing forth. The closest launching point, one quarter-mile in distance, is at Indian Pass located on a narrow peninsula separating Saint Joseph Bay from Saint Vincent Sound at the end of Florida Road C30B. Rough conditions can make traveling through the pass challenging and even dangerous at times. Canoes are not advisable if traveling through the pass and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Signage on St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge

As mentioned previously, bicycling is allowed on the island and paddlers may want to consider bringing theirs with them. Towing them over in a canoe is one option, or for a small fee the shuttle boats will transport them to the west end of the island. When transporting a bicycle, be sure to stay in the Sound and don’t attempt to transport them through the pass.

Camping Options for St. Vincent Island

Overnight camping is not permitted on the island, but there is primitive camping available at nearby St. George Island. For those seeking something less primitive, alternative camping is available at Indian Pass Campground, nearby St. Joseph Peninsula State Park or Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park at the main campground.

Best Time to Visit

Any time of a year is good for a trip to St. Vincent Island, but during the summer months the best time to visit is during the early morning hours before the Florida heat and humidity set in. Dawn and dusk are the ideal times to see animals that would normally take shelter during the heat of the day. Be sure to bring along plenty of water and stay hydrated. Rest frequently to prevent overheating and remember to bring bug spray and sunscreen.

Bald Eagle Nesting Area on St. Vincent NWR

Among other items to bring along is a dependable camera. There’s nothing quite like stepping into a clearing to see one of the magnificent Sambar deer or glimpsing a bald eagle aloft. A trip to St. Vincent is a treasure trove of experiences just waiting to be uncovered.

This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill


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About Beverly Hill

Beverly is a deputy clerk with the Florida court system and is an experienced writer in her free time. Her love of adventure and the outdoors is what fuels her desire to seek out new and exciting things.
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