Fun Facts About Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, & Mexico Beach

Nestled on the Florida Panhandle, on the so-called Forgotten Coast, Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach are among the best holiday destinations in the United States. All three seaside communities are close to Saint Joseph Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, an area renowned for its stunning natural beauty, pristine white sandy beaches, and abundant marine life.

But besides their natural beauty, these three Florida gems share interesting facts that also make them destinations infused with culture and history.

Before traveling anywhere, getting to know fun facts about the place you're going to is a great way to create a deeper connection, discover unexpected things, and start conversations with locals from whom you can learn even more about a certain place.

Planning a trip to Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach? Read this blog for some amazing fun facts we've curated for you. Armed with them, you'll surely look at things differently while enjoying all the beauty and delights of these fantastic destinations.

Time to kick things off!

Why "Panhandle"?

Ever wondered what are the quirky origins behind this name? The Florida Panhandle gets its name from its shape. Florida is a peninsula surrounded by water on its three sides.

The Panhandle, which juts out northward from the main body of the state, is a long, narrow strip that resembles, you guessed it, the handle of a pan.

What about "Forgotten Coast"?

To some, the name "The Forgotten Coast" might sound appealing, but to others, it may seem haunting, sounding like the setting of a mystery novel, or maybe even suggesting that the region is unworthy of attention.

Turns out that the name was coined as an intentional marketing strategy by the local Chamber of Commerce in the early 1990s to highlight the positive aspects of the coast.

They chose this name to draw attention to the untouched beauty, low-key tourism, and lack of development in this part of Florida, which results in pristine beaches, unspoiled nature, and fewer crowds. So, the name suggests a place for a secret getaway.

Shhh, don't tell anyone else!

A rare geological wonder

The Florida Panhandle is special in many ways, but there's something extraordinary about this spectacular part of Florida: coastal dune lakes — totally rare geological wonders.

These freshwater lakes, separated from the Gulf by a narrow strip of sand dunes, were primarily formed through a combination of geological processes over thousands of years. You can find them in just a few countries worldwide such as Madagascar, Australia, and New Zealand.

In the US, they exist in Oregon and in the Panhandle. There are about 15 coastal dune lakes stretching along 26 miles of Walton County's coastline.

The next time you engage in all the fun activities these beautiful dune lakes provide, such as kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing, the fact that they're rare will certainly make the experience a lot more epic!

Cape San Blas: a dark sky preserve

Even when the sun goes down, nature puts on a show in Cape San Blas. Thanks to its remote location and clean air, Cape San Blas is recognized as a dark sky preserve — an area designated to protect the nighttime environment and promote the appreciation of the night sky.

On clear nights, you can witness a spectacular display of stars, making the town an excellent destination for stargazing.

Wondering where to go to look up at the stars? Cape San Blas State Park, with its wide-open beaches and minimal light interference, is the go-to place for enjoying the glowing night sky. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Port. St. Joe is another excellent spot for stargazing just a short drive from Cape San Blas.

Next time you are in the region, remember: Cape San Blas is the perfect spot to count constellations, invent your own, and maybe even wish on a shooting star.

From a booming city to a serene small town

Port St. Joe is known as a "small town with a big heart," but can you believe it was actually once the largest city in Florida? In the mid-1830s, its population surpassed even that of Tallahassee, the state capital.

At that time, the city, known as St. Joseph, experienced a boom as frustrated businessmen relocated from Apalachicola due to legal conflicts over land titles. St. Joseph was also home to one of Florida's first ports and railroads, attracting trade and becoming a hub for shipping and transportation of certain goods.

However, the city's boom was brief. A devastating Yellow Fever outbreak in 1841 significantly reduced the city's population and affected its economy. A few years later, a powerful hurricane damaged several remaining buildings.

These events, along with the rise of other port cities in Florida, contributed to St. Joseph's decline. Its remaining population eventually resettled in a nearby area, which today is the small town of Port St. Joe.

"The Constitution City"

Port St. Joe is also known as "The Constitution City" because, in 1838, Florida's first constitution was drafted here, when it was still called St. Joseph.

Contrary to popular belief, the state constitution wasn't drafted in Tallahassee because of ongoing political disagreements between the eastern and middle parts of Florida. Also, the boomtown of St. Joseph boasted better infrastructure and amenities.

Here's an idea: when visiting Port St. Joe, you can learn more about the history of Florida's first constitution at the Constitution Convention Museum State Park. This hidden gem has a museum packed with interesting exhibits, including artifacts from the original settlement of St. Joseph and a replica convention hall complete with life-size, audio-animated mannequins that reenact the debates of the delegates who drafted the Constitution.

Nature's candy

Port St. Joe is located in a prime area known for its Tupelo honey, a sweet and flavorful honey that comes from the nectar of tupelo trees. The nearby town of Wewahitchka, just a 28-minute drive from Port St. Joe, is the capital of Tupelo honey production in Florida.

Tupelo honey is celebrated for its distinctive flavor with floral notes, light color, and very low acidity level. In other words, this is a true natural candy. This delicacy is available in local stores throughout the region, and at farmers markets, and some restaurants may even incorporate tupelo honey into their dishes.

A jar of tupelo honey makes for a fantastic souvenir to remember your trip! You can tell everyone back home about the fascinating history you learned.

Walking on Crystals

The pristine shores of Mexico Beach are truly exceptional. Unlike many beaches worldwide, where sands are a mixture of various minerals, the sand in Mexico Beach has a unique quality: pure, evenly sized quartz crystals.

Millions of years ago, these quartz crystals began their journey in the Appalachian Mountains. Over time, they were eroded by wind and water, eventually finding their way down rivers and finally settling on the shores of Mexico Beach. Talk about a scenic retirement plan, huh?

Another interesting fact is that the sugar-like sand is very reflective, which keeps the beaches in Mexico Beach cool, even during the hot summer months.

Imagine sinking your toes into sand so soft it feels like powdered sugar. This unique sand is more than just comfortable — it's a geological marvel!

Artificial reef capital of the world

Mexico Beach holds the title of the "Artificial Reef Capital of the World" thanks to the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association, which has created over 1,000 patch reefs offshore. Since the 1970s, they've intentionally submerged many ships, barges, and other structures to establish a thriving artificial reef system. These reefs attract a wide variety of marine life and fish.

The artificial reef system also benefits the city economically, since it makes Mexico Beach a fantastic destination for snorkeling, scuba diving trips, and fishing charters — all contributing to the local economy.

So next time you're there, cast a line, explore the reefs, and see what cool marine neighbors you can meet!

Fun Facts About Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, & Mexico Beach

Now that you're familiar with some specifics about Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach, all that you need to do is plan your trip to these Florida gems and enjoy their natural beauty, history, and culture — with a renewed eye!

Looking for more tips on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach? Check out our local destination blog. We've covered everything from the best places for a night out to where to take your furry friends and where to grab the best cup of coffee in town. There's always more on the way, so keep your eyes peeled for new blogs!

In addition to our blog, we've also included tips and suggestions on what to bring on your trip, some information on local weather, as well as on wildlife ordinances and regulations.

Where to stay when visiting Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, & Mexico Beach?

Stay like a local by booking a vacation rental with Pristine Properties. We are proud to offer a selection of Cape San Blas Vacation Rentals, Port St. Joe Vacation Rentals, and Mexico Beach Florida Vacation Rentals.

Our properties are well-located, just steps away from beautiful beaches, great dining options, and an array of outdoor pursuits. That's the secret to a perfect holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast!

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