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What I wish someone had told me...

Vilonia, Arkansas
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7 posts
33 reviews
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What I wish someone had told me...

We have been vacationing on the Gulf Coast for 20 straight summers. We started in Gulf Shores Al, and have stayed all up and down the panhandle of Fl. Our favorite spot for several years is/was Navarre, Fl. Well, the secret is out on Navarre and last summer it was PACKED, so we ventured east to Port St Joe to escape the crowds.

Things we knew:

We knew it was much more rural than what we were used to, and the Piggly Wiggly was about the only option as far as supplies went.

We knew that our house (Cottage by the Sea) was technically not on the "Gulf" but a little ways into the "Bay". We where located east of Mexico beach and just west of Windmark Beach.

What we didn't know (and wish we had)

We didn't know about the BUGS!! There is no beach breeze to keep the bugs at bay. We had an extremely nice pool, but couldn't use it between dusk and dawn because the Mosquitos where TERRIBLE!! The biggest, meanest, swarming Mosquitos I've EVER seen!! We had to sprint from the car to the door because of the bugs. Even during the day the tiny little red chigger bugs would drive you nuts!!

No waves. Sure, when a storm would come thru there would be a few waves, but the lack of waves killed it for us. Plus the water was so full of seaweed it wasn't pretty.

Now, we did spend some time in the bay and saw dolphins and found 1,000 hermit crabs. But it is much more lake-like. We went to Cap San Blas 2 days, and while there are waves the water is brown and NOT like the Destin blue water. The shells on the Cape were AWESOME!! I hope that this helps someone in there planning. Again, we had a great time, bug it wasn't what we had imagine. :D

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Navarre
Navarre
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
UK
Destination Expert
for Florida
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1. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

What I wish is that you had come here and asked before booking someplace new. I hate to see people disappointed.

Vilonia, Arkansas
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7 posts
33 reviews
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2. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

I read just about every post on the area, but the terrain changes every couple of miles in the area, so it's impossible to pin point what your experience will be. Just trying to share our experience :)

UK
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for Florida
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3. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

No problem, but posting asking a Q (about staying bayside perhaps?) might have helped you not to make a mistake. After all, someone will have had knowledge and said for instance to rent a house with a pool screen only.

Just sharing my experience ;-)

Louisiana
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207 posts
2 reviews
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4. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

The water on the Cape is usually beautiful.....having said that, when I was there the first time this summer the water went from gorgeous to brown. Most folks said it was due to the high winds blowing through and it did clear up again before we left.

The second time I was at the Cape, the water was once again green and clear. No doubt the same rains, etc. that have turned the water brown all up and down the coast affected the Cape. If you've read this forum, you've seen the posts about Fort Walton, Destin, Miramar, heck, even Crab Island having some brown water.

Obviously, the Cape protects much of the area from Mexico Beach to Port St. Joe from the wind and waves which is one reason the Bay is such a wonderful place for sea life. We like to stay on the Cape and visit the Bay.

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Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Mexico Beach
Mexico Beach
Florida Panhandle, FL
Opp, Alabama
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597 posts
152 reviews
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5. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

Satellite images of the area should make it instantly apparent that the beach is very thin in the area you describe. Most spots have a street view too, so you can check the vegetation situation. When we made an excursion to the tip of the peninsula, we had to keep moving or we would get bit by some kind of mean flies, I don't blame you for complaining if those were biting you. I get about 20 mosquito bites a day, same mosquitoes a few hours away, and they aren't painful, just itchy later. Maybe both were after you, that's definitely un-fun.

If you were in Navarre or Destin and got back in the foliage, out of the wind, the same thing would happen.

The bay at Pt. St. Joe is the only one in the gulf that doesn't have a major contributing water source. That makes it unique regarding the wildlife there. Couldn't agree with you more about the shells! We also found purple urchins, horseshoe crab 'skeletons,' cool old barnacles.

There are often virtually no waves in Destin, or any spot along the coast, if it's a calm day. If you were west of Windmark, it was just calm weather. I've seen waves at Windmark too big to get in the water.

If you stay on the cape next time, you'll have huge beaches, and the option of visiting the bay side by crossing the street.

Any time you leave the sand area and get to the foliage line or beyond, there will be mosquitoes. It's the south. That's part of the reason, in addition to the view, that the first-row houses are more expensive. Surely you have mosquitoes in Arkansas too. When we are camping, we keep a fire going and aren't bothered much.

We've been camping on the cape 5 times and have never seen the water brown except on the bay side, back away from the tip of the peninsula.

Just like going to any beach spot, it changes all of the time. Destin has 'bad water days' too.

You probably already know, but for whoever might read this... those crabs found in the ocean are not the same as the ones sold in pet stores. Although they can survive a short time out of the water, they are marine crabs, not land crabs, and need to be in the ocean or a large established salt water aquarium to survive. Most of the shells we found in the water had live crabs in them.

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Navarre
Navarre
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Arkansas
Arkansas
United States
Waverly, Ohio
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6 posts
8 reviews
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6. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

Are the mosquitoes as bad in late October?

UK
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for Florida
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7. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

I'd possibly start your own Thread?

Houston, Texas
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43 posts
111 reviews
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8. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

Port St. Joe is a wonderful place - for what it is - a bay area. I agree with all of the above and am writing this from the Blue Mountain Beach area - after having spent yesterday in Port St. Joe scalloping. I love PSJ! You should have done your homework and spent some time getting to know the area via the internet or even having a conversation with someone at the rental place - it would have been very clear what you were getting.

If you want to escape crowds, try Blue Mountain Beach, Redfish or any of the communities between Panama City and Destin - you will find calm and serenity.

I can appreciate your disappointment and am really sorry you didn't have the experience you are accustomed to for your vacation - but, if you were fishing, scalloping, kayaking, etc. you would have been in heaven!

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Blue Mountain Beach
Blue Mountain Beach
Florida Panhandle, FL
Panama City
Panama City
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Opp, Alabama
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597 posts
152 reviews
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9. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

When we just want to get to a beach ASAP, Blue Mountain is our choice, due south on 331, just over an hour. It's so cute, the buildings, and never crowded even at the public access. If we needed lodging and weren't camping, we would absolutely consider BM area.

Like anywhere else, mosquitoes are active until there's a good frost.

J M
Nashville, Tennessee
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1,023 posts
354 reviews
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10. Re: What I wish someone had told me...

Hate you were disappointed, but research is key. Bays are notoriously calm, but it is the gulf so probably should not expect huge waves unless there is a storm. There are plenty of places to stay not on a bay. Storms stir up seaweed which is fact at all beaches. Depending on the amount of rain which is a lot this year, you should expect mosquitoes and even biting flies. Worst we have seen were actually at Navarre. We try to always rent a house with a screened in porch and bring bug spray, just in case. But we have never had to use in this area, but we stay oceanfront and avoid standing water. No you will not see the pristine white beaches of trucked in sand and clear water of Destin, but you get so much more. No crowds, peaceful and beautiful beaches, no traffic jams, FRESH seafood, quaint old Florida, Tupelo Honey, etc. No comparison. PSJ, Appalachicola, Cape San Blas, St George Island win, hands down. Highly recommend this area!!

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Navarre
Navarre
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Florida
Florida
United States
Cape San Blas
Cape San Blas
Florida Panhandle, FL
St. George Island
St. George Island
Florida Panhandle, FL
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