Known for its famous Apalachicola Bay oysters, the town of Apalachicola is an important pit stop on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway north of Saint George Island. Apalachicola is 50 miles southeast of Panama City and 25 miles west of Dog Island and Carrabelle.
Ashore, Apalachicola is an interesting area to explore. Along the waterfront you will find lines of oystering and fishing boats in a typical southern fishing port scene. Inside the town are many historic homes along moss-draped streets. For provisioning, the grocery store is about 12 blocks from the marinas, so you may want to bring along bags or a cart for carrying.
Apalachicola was established in 1831. Shipping cotton was Apalachicola's big industry and it soon became the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico. By the 1850s, the waterfront was lined with brick warehouses and broad streets to handle the loading and unloading of cotton. Steamboats laden with cotton came down the river and were unloaded. Then small shallow draft schooners (lighters) shuttled the cargo to ships moored offshore.
As the railroads expanded throughout the United States, a new industry took shape in the city. Home to large cypress forests, Franklin County developed several big lumber mills in the late 1800s. Lumber magnates built many of the magnificent historic homes that line the streets today.
By the end of the 19th century, oysters and seafood became an important industry. Today, Franklin County harvests more than 90% of Florida's oysters and 10% of the oysters consumed in the nation. Shrimp, blue crab and finfish are also very important commercially, bringing in over $11 million worth of seafood to Franklin County docks annually.
Information Courtesy Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce
Use NOAA Chart 11402.
Apalachicola and the Apalachicola River are approached from the south via Apalachicola Bay. From Apalachicola Bay near Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Mile 355, pick up green can “1” and flashing red “2” at the beginning of the approach channel to Apalachicola. Once you have cleared the initial approach buoys, proceed north along the well-marked channel, making especially sure to honor green cans “13” and “15,” as they mark a shoal that encroaches from the west.
As you get closer to the river entrance, you will see a 65-foot fixed vertical clearance bridge that leads into Apalachicola-proper. Proceed in farther past green can “15,” taking special care at red nuns “20,” “22,” and “24,” as they mark an extensive shoal that extends southward from Towhead Island.
Once clear of the bridge inside the Apalachicola River you will find an excellent variety of marine facilities along the town waterfront to port. There are six marinas in the area, and all but one make transient space available for visiting boaters. Gas and diesel fuel are available at two marinas, and two other facilities have lifts for haul-outs and repairs.