Dog Island, located 50 miles southwest of Tallahassee in the Gulf of Mexico, is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. This magnificent, pristine barrier island remains largely undiscovered, providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
A Journey to Serenity
You won’t find a bridge connecting the mainland to Dog Island, making it a truly secluded paradise. However, don’t worry about transportation. You can reach this hidden gem via a mini-ferry, boat, or small plane. The absence of cars, trains, and buses only adds to the island’s allure.
A Rich History
Dog Island has a history that dates back to 1536 when French navigators first charted its shores. Legend has it that the island was named “Ile de Chiens” after the dogs that the indigenous people kept as pets. Despite the lumber industry flourishing on the nearby mainland, little development occurred on the island until the mid-1950s.
Preserving Nature’s Beauty
Home to just 12 year-round residents (10 people and 2 dogs), Dog Island managed to maintain its natural ambience throughout the years. In 1980, Jeff Lewis, the owner at the time, decided to sell the island. However, he wanted to ensure its untouched beauty was preserved. The Nature Conservancy stepped in and purchased three-quarters of Dog Island, setting it aside as a nature preserve.
A Charming Retreat
The Pelican Inn, a two-story lodge with eight efficiency apartments, is the only commercial property on Dog Island. Originally purchased by Skipper Tonsmeire, it is now managed by his brother, Dan. Each air-conditioned unit at the inn offers a comfortable stay, complete with kitchen facilities, sleeping accommodations for four, living and dining areas, and a deck facing the Gulf of Mexico. Linens, cooking utensils, and dishes are provided, and ceiling fans are available in all units.
Dog Island maintains its simplicity by not having telephones, televisions, or stores. Instead, it offers a serene atmosphere of wind-swept dunes, sea oats, and cabbage palms. This natural oasis is home to various flora and fauna, including waterfowl habitats, Florida’s oldest strand of sand pines adorned with reindeer moss, and a sanctuary filled with rosemary, live oaks, and slash pines. Along the marsh and bay, you can find black mangroves growing in beautiful Bonsai form.
Embrace the Island Life
On Dog Island, guests at the Pelican Inn spend their days exploring sandy beaches, collecting seashells, and sailing along the shoreline. Fishermen can indulge in their favorite pastime, casting their lines for a variety of fish, including redfish, mullet, speckled trout, flounder, pompano, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel.
Planning Your Visit
To ensure a seamless journey, it’s important to note that the passenger ferry from Carrabelle operates from May through September every Thursday to Monday, and Friday to Monday from October through April. The Pelican Inn can provide additional information and the ferry schedule, so feel free to reach out to them.
Dog Island is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. So, pack your bags, leave the city lights behind, and escape to a place where nature reigns supreme. Experience the tranquility and beauty of Dog Island for yourself. Book your trip now through 1mquotes and embark on an unforgettable adventure.
Images courtesy of 1mquotes