A few weeks back we decided it was time for a road trip. We needed a warmer locale to capture our new spring/summer 2022 goods in action, so we loaded up and headed due south to the Forgotten Coast, a slower pace side of the Florida Panhandle known by locals as “the other side of 30A”. Down this stretch of quaint fishing towns you can experience a local, old-school Florida vibe surrounded by miles of untouched wildlife. We landed in the laid back town of Port St. Joe and took the 15 minute boat ride to Black’s Island which would be our home base for the next few days.
Legend has it that Captain Black landed on the island in 1830, and we’re happy to report little has changed since he discovered this pristine oasis magically placed in the middle of the Gulf. We love a road trip that ends on a boat and the journey to Black’s Island did NOT disappoint. Bringing your own boat, loading up a big cooler, and catching your own dinner is all part of the unique Black’s Island experience. There’s nothing commercial on the island so you have to arrive prepared. We rounded out our provisions with a stop at “The Pig” in Port St. Joe and left with a cart full of groceries, produce, seafood and libations. With this pit stop behind us we were ready to float on over..
A WARM WELCOME
Upon arrival you’re immediately transported. The undeveloped, remote location. The white sand beaches. The swaying palms. The wildlife. All of it adds up to the perfect retreat. And once your bare feet hit the cypress boardwalks that line the island you are immediately on “island time”. The hospitable Black’s Island staff welcomed us and gave us the lay of the land. The 26 private bungalows with porches or decks are tucked here and there to offer privacy while the four story ecolodge clubhouse is the spot for gathering and celebrating another beautiful sunset suspended out over The Gulf.
Once settled, we unpacked our food and drinks as well as all of our gear. Because this trip was in fact a work-related photo shoot we had plenty of Duck Head goods on hand. It was the perfect place to try out our new Guide Shirt and St. Marks Performance Shorts which are quick drying — so they easily went from a wet excursion out on the boat to a seated lunch at the clubhouse. Our new water repellent Beaumont Jacket was great for crisp mornings out at sea and offered an extra layer after sunset by the bonfire. Overall, we kept things causal with our new assortment of polos, tees, and linen oxford shirts.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
This bio-diverse island had a lot to offer our group of adventurous, nature lovers. Seven unspoiled acres floating in the Gulf definitely gets the heart racing! And with activities ranging from boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, clay shooting, and birding our days were full of options. Not to mention collapsing by the swimming pool or soaking in the hot tub. We could get use to this...
DINNER & GAME NIGHT
After full days we all wandered up to the clubhouse for perfectly grilled seafood dinners washed down with ice cold drinks. One night, our guys literally provided the “catch of the day” having hooked many beautiful fish earlier that morning. On another night we pulled together a Low Country Boil to share with the crew (recipe to follow in the days ahead!). All of this was enjoyed around nightly bonfires and rowdy games of ping-pong, horse shoes, and cornhole. And the occasional visit from the resident peacocks or a wild turkey or two.
THE LAST LEG
After 4 great days it was really hard to leave this wonderful island and we were NOT ready to return to the “road” part of this road trip. So we decided to extend our stay another day to soak up the many charms of Port St. Joe over on the mainland. We hit the ground running with a morning coffee from The Joe followed by a tour of the Lighthouse Museum. Next, it was off to visit Salinas Park. This beautiful, very low-key beach offers up dunes and coastal forest for hiking and a boardwalk surrounded in beautiful sea grasses. Then we reported back to the Port Inn where we were staying and hopped on our complimentary bikes to explore the bucolic seaside town. Dinner was at Provisions, a locally owned Italian restaurant and wine bar. And then it was lights out. The next day we had to get back to the real world despite the fact that we all wanted to head over to Apalachicola for a few days instead...