Dog Island is a remote barrier island located in the northwestern corner of the Florida Gulf. The island’s location, its beauty, its uncrowded white sandy beaches, surf fishing, and several protected anchorages make Dog Island an appealing location for small boat sailors.
Name: Dog Island, Florida
Where: Located in the Northwestern Florida Gulf, 3.5 miles offshore from Carrabelle, FL, 54 miles southwest of Tallahassee, Florida. Map and Chart
Weather at Base Camp
Ramps: Free public ramp located on Marine Street in Carrabelle (limited parking). Alternate: Dockside Marina in Carrabelle (Inexpensive fees for launch and parking, free ice included in launch fee, great management). Both the public and the Dockside Marina ramps are wide and well maintained and have a deep water channel at end of concrete ramps. The public ramp is a double and the Dockside Marina ramp is a single.
Camping: Limited on Dog Island due to nesting birds.
Amenities: None on Dog Island except for the Pelican Inn (eight unit hotel, bring all your own supplies), Ice, food, fuel, motels, restaurants, convenience stores are available in Carrabelle.
To the island’s north is Apalachicola Bay and, 3.5 miles across the bay, on the mainland, is Carrabelle, Florida. To the island’s south lies the Gulf of Mexico. Dog Island is about 7 miles long and ½ mile wide, at its widest spot, and a hundred yards or so, at its narrowest spot. Dog Island is accessible only by boat or airplane. There is residential property on the island. However, much of the island is owned by the Nature Conservancy. There is also a usable grass air strip.
Supplies should be purchased before leaving Carrabelle. There is an IGA full service grocery store located in town on Highway 98. Motoring or sailing on the Carrabelle River heading for Apalachicola Bay is very scenic. During certain times of the year, shrimp may be purchased directly off the shrimp boats and the “Anthony Diane” located on the dock on Marine Street is typically a good source.
A good quality chart should be consulted when sailing in Apalachicola Bay and near Dog Island. Although the average water depth is 12 – 18 feet in most areas, there are many shallow spots and shoals that need to be avoided. About a ¼ mile off the north shore of Dog Island, the water is 20 to 25 feet and affords great sailing. A circumnavigation of the Dog Island in good weather is possible, however, it can be treacherous in small boats especially if the wind is coming out of the south.
Dog Island – East End
There is a delightful cove on the east / north end of Dog Island (N29 49.653 W84 34.693) that is a very well protected anchorage. This is also a great spot for swimming, a picnic or fishing. Camping is usually prohibited due to nesting birds.
Just west on the bay side of the island (N29 49.432 W84 35.010) is another sandy beach that is a nice anchorage provided the wind is not coming from the north west. I am not sure if camping is allowed, however, I know from personal experience that it has been done. Watch out for the raccoons!
Another nice destination and anchorage is Tyson’s Harbor (N29 48.682 W84 35.157). This is also a great place for waiting out a storm. Upon entering the harbor, you should follow the channel markers. Straying from the channel will result in a grounding!!
Tyson’s Harbor is the home of the Dog Island Yacht Club. Transient slips for a fee are available but please do not tie up in any other slips but the transient ones. The “yachties” can get very irritated! The transient slips are well marked with yellow paint on the top of the posts. This is also the dock where the Dog Island Ferry arrives with guests staying at the Pelican Inn. It is a great destination for a picnic, to view the grass air strip, and to hike over to the gulf side of the island.
Dog Island – West End
The west end of Dog Island offers two spectacular gunk holes ideal for swimming, picnics, strolling the beach, fishing, or just reading a book. Most of the property on the west end of the island is privately owned but very accessible. The beaches on this end of the island are much wider than on the east end.
My favorite spot is Shippers Cove (N29 46.949 W84 39.216). From the mouth of the Carrabelle River it is a straight sail due south. The water remains fairly deep until about 100 – 150 yards from the beach. This is a nice overnight anchorage unless the wind is coming out of the north.
Just east of Shippers Cove is Ballast Cove (N29 47.443 W84 37.794) which is also very nice for swimming, hiking the beach and a picnic.
If you are a trailer sailor looking for a nice day sail and a spectacular sunset, or, you are cruising the Florida Gulf on the inter coastal waterway and want a relaxing destination, Dog Island is a terrific place to explore. If you visit, give the “Island Spirit” a shout on the VHF!
This article was written by Rob Powis, and his photographs are used with his permission.
Rob’s home port is in Carrabelle, Florida. Several years ago Rob traded
in his fishing skiff for a 19 foot West Wight Potter sailboat named the
“Island Spirit”, and, being recently retired, he is enjoying the
favorable winds on Apalachicola Bay. Rob can be reached at email@example.com