Nestled along the western shore of St. Joseph Bay on Florida’s Forgotten Coast lies the small, but vibrant town of Port St. Joe. This quaint coastal getaway brims with fun water activities, natural beauty, and more.


What makes this hidden gem worth exploring? Foremost, it’s people—but also, it’s rich history.

A heron flys through the big blue sky.
An aged lighthouse stands tall in the sky.

This deep-water port town has a history stretching back some 180-plus years. Most recently, in October of 2108, it was hit by Hurricane Michael. The community, however, has come back stronger than ever, with a Songwriters Festival, incredible restaurants, outfitters, and locals who are the most welcoming you’ll ever find. Simply put, Port St. Joe is a hidden gem waiting to be rediscovered.


Today, this town of 3,700 souls is a vacation destination unto itself. For guests staying on Cape San Blas, it’s the perfect day excursion. Just 12 miles or so from the Cape, it’s a scenic drive along the southern arm of the St. Joe Peninsula and the western shores of the Bay, making it the perfect getaway.



Things to see and do along the Forgotten Coast

A massive school of fish swim off the coast of Port St. Joe.


St. Joseph’s Bay ranks as one of the best snorkeling venues on the Gulf Coast. What makes it so great? The shallow, clear, and protected waters of the Bay—along with the amazing community of scallops that populate the seafloor. The shallow waters allow you to anchor your vessel as you and your party don your snorkeling gear and indulge in some scalloping—which is similar to an underwater Easter egg hunt for adults. Of course, the kids will love it too.

Don’t forget to look out for all the sea turtles and octopuses that call the Bay home. You’ll encounter a wide variety of sea life—everything from dolphins to seahorses. On calm days, the cloudless waters make for some luminous underwater photography. 

Sea turtles swims along the bottom of the Gulf.

Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center

Back on land and just to the west of downtown, you’ll find the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center (FCSTC). This remarkable local organization promotes educational and conservational efforts to benefit the regional sea turtle population, highlighting the importance of the beach habitat they require. The uninhabited portion of St. Joe Peninsula, with its long arm of pristine white sand, serves as a home to thousands of amazing seafaring creatures and their nests.

Port Theater Art and Culture Center stands tall with big clouds in the background.

Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival

If you haven’t quite gotten your sea legs yet, you may want to drop in for Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival, a must-see event for all music lovers. This intimate event attracts some of the biggest names in the Nashville music industry for live music and storytelling. In the past, the festival has headlined Grammy-nominated Clint Daniels, Earl Bud, and many more. 

With its continued growth, the festival now features over 30 iconic artists performing at multiple venues. The event is deliberately kept small to showcase the local charm and hospitality of the community. Proceeds benefit several nonprofits, civic groups, and local grade schoolers who can take advantage of the musical workshops throughout the year. 

A downtown shot of Port St. Joe with canopies and signs visible.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Port St. Joe

One of the most memorable seafood restaurants is the Krazy Fish Grille in downtown Port St. Joe. Stepping into the Krazy Fish is an unforgettable experience in and of itself, with its weathered interior and tropical fishing village vibe.

This colorful local restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients, including fresh snapper, shrimp, and oysters. They have a sushi bar and a full-service wet bar, serving up the classics, including Blue Hawaiians, Key West Mojitos, and Bahama Mamas. Seafood isn’t your thing? The Grille also serves up some of the finest tacos on the Forgotten Coast.

Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Kitchen offers the best Tuscan-inspired pie in the area. From sandwiches to fresh salads to amazing pasta dishes, this is your go-to establishment. 

Looking for a breakfast spot? Just down the street from Joe Mama’s pizza kitchen is the Sand Dollar Café, where you’ll find the finest breakfast and lunch Southern fare.

A History That is Still Alive Today

Founded in 1835, Port St. Joe (originally known as St. Joseph) quickly emerged as the largest city in Florida, with a flourishing population of 11,000. In time, it would play host to 56 delegates at a convention to draft Florida’s first constitution. 


But old St. Joseph’s brief period of prosperity would be followed by a series of devastating natural disasters. And they ran the gamut: from the yellow fever pandemic to a great fire to a catastrophic hurricane. The yellow fever outbreak alone reduced the city’s population to fewer than 500. It was effectively abandoned after a fire, followed by a hurricane, destroyed much of the infrastructure. At one point, only 19 people called Port St. Joe home.

But with every challenge—especially the recent landfall of Hurricane Michael—the town has come back even stronger. Perhaps the best example of this is the shipyard operated by the Eastern Shipbuilding Group.


The facility is situated on the Gulf County Canal and is one of only three along the Gulf Coast. Here they build military and commercial vessels, including ferries, tugboats, fireboats, and Coast Guard cutters. The shipyard is outfitted with a marine railway and a 57,000-foot fabrication building, and is one of the largest employers in the area.


Over time, this boundless resilience has become central to Port St. Joe’s identity. And the locals are as warm as they are proud of it—which makes Port St. Joe such an inspirational destination to visit. 


Plan a trip along the Forgotten Coast in beautiful Port St. Joe!