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a pelican in the house
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
Closest available address
From Apalachicola west on Highway 30, to 30A and left on 30B to ferry
Daylight hours are best. Ferry service should be reserved in advance.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge is 12,500 acres and is located on an undeveloped island in the Gulf of Mexico. Diverse habitats include scrub oaks, slash pines, saltwater marshes, coastal dunes and a few freshwater lakes. St. Vincent is home to a variety of resident and migratory birds, alligators, snakes, feral hogs, and both native and exotic deer. It’s also used as a breeding area for endangered red wolves. There is an extensive network of dirt roads and trails on the island, so it’s easy to get around if you have a bicycle. Cars are not permitted.
Indians lived here historically, but there was little development until the early 1900s. In the 1920s it was used as a cattle ranch. The pine forests were then logged by a timber company. A variety of exotic animals were brought to St. Vincent by a new owner after World War II, including zebra, jungle fowl and elands. In 1968, the Nature Conservancy purchased the island for a mere $2.2 million, a fraction of its value today. It was then sold to the US Government.
St. Vincent is one of the few if not only large islands in Florida where one can spend an entire day and not see another person, especially in winter. A local boat owner provides ferry service from a beach that is within a quarter mile of the island. He was a no nonsense type of guy but was on time both going over as well as coming back. Here is the link to his website:
. He used to rent bicycles and may do so again in the future, but otherwise you should bring one. With a bike you can get around St. Vincent on the main trails fairly quickly. Without one, be ready for some long, long, long walks. The island is 8 miles long in places. The main B Trail was wide, flat and a breeze to ride, but some of the sandy side trails were like quicksand, and only walking was practical. Being out here on a sunny day in winter was great. It is so quiet and peaceful and offered a welcome opportunity to unwind in an unspoiled place. Few if any animals were seen but it did not detract from the experience. Riding the B Trail out to the beaches on the Gulf Coast of Mexico was a good way to see multiple habitats and enjoy the island's charms. If seclusion, nature, exercise and novelty sound appealing, then a St. Vincent visit will be right up your alley.
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