Before starting to research our family USA roadtrip, I confess I was a complete Florida-sceptic. I though it was all plastic, over-developed resorts hiding the Sunshine State’s natural beauty and, well, spring break parties. As you can probably tell from my previous Miami and Manatee Springs posts though, what we found couldn’t be further from my (ignorant) expectations, and St Joseph’s State Park placed it on a higher level altogether.
We found the state park very much in the same way we had found Manatee Springs – by literally googling places that looked remotely interesting on google maps. There wasn’t much information available about St Joseph’s, but the few reviews and photographs I saw had me hooked.
As we drove into the area, the landscape changed dramatically from run-down, fast-food clad towns to beautiful and well looked after beach houses (on stilts), dotting the beaches with spots of bold colour, making the beautiful landscape even more special.
We arrived late in the afternoon, and managed to set-up camp just in time to join the groups of people calmly strolling down to the beach to enjoy the sunset. It looked almost like a ritual and we were intrigued – was it that good?
It was spectacular! The beach itself was gorgeous, with the thinnest, whitest sand I’ve ever put my feet in and smooth, almost melancholic waters moving as if to a lullaby. To be honest with you, we could barely believe we had found such a place. Our son was in his element – a tent, sticks, bugs to watch, and a beach!
The tent was a mere minute’s walk to the beach, just behind the wildlife-rich sand dunes and under the very tall pine trees. It was paradise, well. almost, were it not for the hundred mosquitoes that swarmed around us dusk and dawn, and left dozens of marks of love on both Rob and C. Me? Not a single one, go figure! Must be the Mediterranean blood.
We didn’t do much here, apart from enjoying this magical spot, failing to build sand castles (the sand was like flour, making it impossible and anyway, as soon as Rob would pull the bucket off one, C would jump on it). We swam, we played, we read (when not being climbed-on by a 3 year old) and we walked and walked the long stretches of sandy beach, immaculate views, almost nobody else around.
There were several other families at the campsite with young children, shell-picking, fishing, running into the water. We felt like if we lived in the States, this would be the type of place you’d want to bring your kids to every year- it’s both calm enough to be relaxing, but with countless activities for kids ,and on top of it all it’s picture-perfect – life-long memories.
We read that you can go scallop-hunting in the summer months, which sounded like an awesome experience. Unfortunately it was too cold, and we ended up just tasting the super-fresh local cuisine over at Triple Tails Oyster bar (bargain and delicious by the way!).
On our last day, it felt fitting that the weather had turned ever so slightly and the beach was under a thick, deep fog cloud. I thought it couldn’t be more beautiful, but I was wrong. This is the sort of place that, if you were a writer, you’d go to write the novel of your life. You can almost touch the emotion the sea brings, the air is light and the sand pure. It feels like a de-cluttered environment, so clean, so empty – It’s nature, for minimalists.
Sorry for the overload of pictures on the post – I couldn’t choose!
St Joseph’s Lowdown:
Accommodation: Camping for $20/night (includes entrance to the park)
Food: Grab some seafood from the market and cook it up on the ring of fire provided, or get a bite at Triple Tails just outside the park. We paid a bargain $40 for starters, a kids meal and a large seafood platter.