This is where the locals live, close enough to enjoy the countless amenities provided by the famous resort towns along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A, but also far enough away to feel like a whole other world. Point Washington found its roots as a major lumber hub in the late 19th century, and it continued to operate as such until the end of World War I.
Many visitors to this region of Florida are unaware that over 40% of the land here is protected, with the majority, some 15,000 acres being permanently preserved as part of Point Washington State Forest.
In addition to wetlands and pines, this preserve is home to many species of wildlife including deer, bald eagles, wild hogs, turkeys, alligators, osprey, and black bears.
Featuring miles upon miles of unpaved roads and sandy trails, Point Washington State Forest welcomes off-roaders, bikers, and hikers. Overnight camping is allowed in special primitive areas of the forest, and it’s a stunner of a steal at only $10 per day. Take that VRBO.
Point Washington is also home to the enchantingly surreal Eden Gardens State Park. This 161-acre treasure is a natural wonderland of ancient moss-draped oaks, punctuated by gorgeous views of Tucker Bayou, with the Choctawhatchee Bay on the horizon.
A favorite backdrop for prom queens and blushing brides-to-be, Eden Gardens State Park is also home to walking trails, rose gardens, a butterfly garden, and a reflection pond filled with lilies and koi. The historic Wesley House is home to the second-largest collection of Louis XVI furniture in the US. You’ll want to grab a tour when you’re in the area as this historical Florida landmark is full of rare antiquities and glimpses of coastal pioneering days gone by.
Push a little further past Point Washington’s quaint community schoolhouse and church, and you’ll find a public boat launch, which provides easy direct access to Tucker Bayou, Choctawhatchee Bay, and Choctawhatchee River, which the colorful Captain Andy Coleman of Backwater Tours has been fishing and exploring for nearly five decades.
“I call this 30A North. There are fewer neon signs and stuff, but there’s great beauty. And there’s great solitude. Four hours as a wilderness experience decompresses the soul, and I’m truly lucky to take that to people, and my soul gets decompressed also,” said Captain Andy. “This is a strange atmosphere here. Where there’s big wide water here, it’s shallow. Where there’s a narrow creek, it’s deep. So that’s the opposite of everything I came up with. It wasn’t that long ago that every phone call you made from here was long distance.”
“All except from a St. Joe phone company that they put in the ’40s. All the old boys from Alabama and Louisiana, after about three days of frying on that beach… are ready for a change. You can have 88-degree water there or 68 with me. Come on and see me,” explained Captain Andy.
From Point Washington’s boat ramp, you can easily take a paddleboard, kayak, or boat through Tucker Bayou out onto the Intracoastal Canal. Here, you’ll find beaches of a different variety. With its origins dating back to the 1800s and cutting through here around World War II, the Intracoastal Waterway remains one of the most economically important maritime routes in the nation, enabling large and small vessels to cruise safely and smoothly along protected waters. This 3,000-mile network of protected waterways effectively stretches from New Jersey all the way down to our Texas border with Mexico.
As for us though, we think we’ll just sit here, right here in peaceful Point Washington, and watch the boats, and life go by.