An authentic fishing community with a heart as big as the bay.
In Eastpoint you can buy fresh local seafood from family-owned markets and eat a fresh seafood meal from restaurants operated by families four generations deep.
Eastpoint is the seafood central hub of Franklin County. This narrow sliver of coastline just across the bay from Apalachicola and St. George Island is lined with rustic seafood houses where oystermen bring their heavy burlap bags of freshly harvested Apalachicola Bay oysters to be washed, shucked, packed and transported across the country. Eastpoint’s commercial seafood district stretches nearly a mile along Hwy 98 overlooking St. George Sound and hugging the narrow coastline behind a protective breakwater. That breakwater shields the coast and the fleet of weathered wooden oyster skiffs moored just offshore. Eastpoint is an authentic fishing town with a heart as big as the bay. Here you can buy fresh local seafood from family-owned markets and eat a fresh seafood meal from restaurants operated by families four generations deep.
Gateway to St. George
Eastpoint is considered the Gateway to St. George Island. The area features a popular fishing bridge that parallels the bridge to St. George Island. To the north, Eastpoint is a gateway to the Apalachicola National Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest through scenic Highwy 65 – part of the Big Bend Scenic Byway. Eastpoint is also home to the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) and Visitor Center. Considered one of the state’s premier research and education facilities, the ANERR facility features a visitor center complete with fish tanks, interactive displays and ongoing public education programs and activities.
Oystermen are Farmers of the Bays the bay.
Oystermen harvest oysters in Franklin County from more than 7,000 acres of public oyster "bars" and 600 acres of private leased bars in Apalachicola Bay. Public bars are divided into "winter" bars, which are harvested from October through June and "summer" bars which are harvested from July through September. There are more than 1,000 people employed by the oyster industry in Franklin County. Oystermen harvest the oysters today in the same manner they have for a century. From small wooden boats 20-23 feet long, using tongs that look like two rakes attached scissor-style, the oystermen heft the oysters to the surface. Oysters are brought aboard and sorted on a culling board where they are separated by size. On shore the seafood houses sort the oysters and package them for sale either in bags or boxes. They may also be shucked, washed and sold in pints or gallons.
Tucked along the shores of St. George Sound in Eastpoint, you’ll find one of the country’s most prestigious research labs, complete with a world-class visitor center. If you’ve ever wondered how nature works, this place is for you! The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center features group programs, state-of-the- art exhibits and a great collection of local cultural artifacts. The nature center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Here, you can tour exhibits that take you on a journey from deep in the river swamps along the Apalachicola River, across Apalachicola Bay, over one of the local barrier islands and out to the Gulf of Mexico. The center also contains several large aquaria that feature local fish and turtles from the fresh, brackish and salt water habitats. Be sure to spend extra time in the Bay Discovery Room where you can actually touch the bones, shells, microscopes and a vast collection of interesting items.
About the Reserve
At the heart of the nature center, it’s all about the science. Core programs at the Reserve focus on research, resource management, education and training. The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve was established in 1979 as part of a system of reserves around America to protect estuaries. The Reserve encompasses nearly 247,000 acres of public lands and waters in the Florida Panhandle. The Reserve is part of a watershed that is nearly 20,000 square miles in size, that stretches from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia. Watery habitats within the Reserve include the lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River and the portion of Apalachicola Bay from Indian Pass eastward through St. George Sound. Extensive bottomland hardwoods, pine flatwoods and coastal barrier islands are just a few of the natural communities that make the Reserve a true gem of natural diversity. This one estuary provides people with shrimp, crabs, fish and approximately 90% of Florida’s oyster harvest. Learn more by visiting dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/Apalachicola.