Where Ochlockonee Bay meets Apalachee Bay in the Florida panhandle sits the secluded Bald Point peninsula, an area of scrub oak, pine trees, marshes and white sand beaches. Most of the peninsula is occupied by Bald Point State Park, with a few beachside homes and rental properties scattered along the shore. We made a Spring Break trip there because dogs are allowed on the non-State Park beaches of Bald Point and Alligator Point.
During WWII this stretch of coast was incorporated into the Camp Gordon Johnston installation and was the site of amphibious landing practice for men who later stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. The area has changed significantly since that time owing to dramatic coastal erosion. The Gulf now encroaches on beach dunes, threatening to break through with a major storm. A Bald Point resident told us the beach used to extend 100 yards further into the Gulf and the erosion caused the loss of several coastal structures, including a restaurant. You can see where Bald Point Road was rerouted due to the receding shoreline.
The beach at Bald Point, Florida, has a long, shallow slope creating gentle waves. At low tide the beach extends a hundred yards or more, creating a playground of tidal pools. At high tide the Gulf waters lap around pines at the shore’s edge and dolphins can be seen feeding no more than fifteen yards off shore. We saw a bald eagle resting on the branch of one water-side tree.
Bald Point, Florida.
This is not Panama City, so the entertainment options, outside of beach and water activities, are limited. A short distance from Bald Point is the town of Panacea, offering a humble selection of stores and restaurants, including the rustic Posey’s Dock Side Cafe on Rock Landing Road. Just around the corner from Posey’s you can visit the aquarium at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory. There are a number of tanks with starfish, sand dollars, crabs and other sea life. Visitors are allowed to handle many of the creatures in the tanks. It makes for a fun hour, but is a little pricey at $8.50, for those aged 12+, and $6, for children 3-11.
A little further away is George Griffin Pottery in Sopchoppy. Look for the signs and follow a dirt road through the woods to his studio and gallery. You’ll likely be greeted by Griffin’s friendly Golden Retriever. Polaroid snapshots line the walls of his gallery, showing customers who have visited his shop over the years.
George Griffin Pottery. Sopchoppy, Florida. March, 2013.
About a 30-minute ride down the coast from Bald Point is the Wildwood Golf Resort. It offers a cheap round of golf on a forgiving course. We played on a weekday for $21.50/person, which included a cart. One person on Foursquare summed it up: “Not really sure how we’re defining resort, but this is not one.”
If you’re still looking for something to do, Captain Billy Bowlegs is reported to have buried a treasure at Bald Point, Florida. If true, it’s probably sitting under the Gulf waters due to the receding coastline, but it may be worth a look.
Jellyfish caught in tide pool. Bald Point, Florida. March 2013.