St. George Island's Julian G. Bruce State Park has again been voted one of the Top 10 Beaches in the U.S., according to the Dr. Stephen Leatherman (Dr. Beach) annual ranking of beaches in the U.S.
The St. George Island Beach moved up a notch from #4 in 2012 to the #3 spot for 2013. This is the third year that the nine-mile beach park at the east end of St. George Island, has made Dr. Beach's list.
According to Dr. Beach, "The Florida panhandle beaches are known for their powdery, super white sands. The sand here is squeaky clean (just rub your feet on the sand and hear it squeak). The State Park beach is on the eastern end of the island. Pathways take you across the 'walking' dunes to the bayside."
Josh Hodson, St. George Island State Park manager, said the designation has done wonders for the park's visitation. "This ranking has resulted in publicity on a national scale for the state park and our area," he said.
According to Hodson, visitation to the State Park has steadily increased in the past few years since the designations which began in 2011. Last year (2012) we had 210,000 visitors, up from 185,000 in 2011. It'll be interesting to see what this year brings," he said
Because the St. George Island State Park is home to some threatened and endangered species, Hodson said visitors to this beach park are asked to be respectful of the wildlife, including the endangered loggerhead sea turtles which arrive annually at this time of year to nest on the beach.
"We've already received our first few loggerheads so please do not disturb any marked areas," Hodson cautions.
Visitors interested in learning about sea turtle nesting can attend 2 p.m. turtle orientation meetings on Wednesdays during June at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center in Eastpoint. The presentations are hosted by the SGI Volunteer Turtlers and ANERR. Common sense turtle tips include removing all beach chairs and umbrellas at the end of the day and use red filtered flashlights when walking on the beach at night to avoid disorienting hatchlings.
The St. George Island State Park Beach is one of a string of many beaches in Franklin County. Total, Franklin County features more than 250 miles of beach. To learn more about each of the county's beaches and amenities, visit Saltyflorida.com
The complete top 10 for 2013 is as follows:
-- No. 1: Main Beach East Hampton, New York
-- No. 2: Kahanamoku Beach Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
-- No. 3: St. George Island State Park Florida Panhandle
-- No. 4: Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
-- No. 5: Waimanalo Bay Beach Park Oahu, Hawaii
-- No. 6: Barefoot Beach Bonita Springs, Florida
-- No. 7: Cape Florida State Park Key Biscayne, Florida
-- No. 8: Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks of North Carolina
-- No. 9: Coast Guard Beach Cape Cod, Massachusetts
-- No. 10: Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island, South Carolina