STORY: BOB BROWN
PHOTOGRAPHY: SEAN MURPHY
It's not too often that people can escape reality via a 15 minute pontoon boat ride. Call it a fantasy, a dream or whatever...we at BOTE call it a weekend trip to Black's Island.
Black's Island is located in the Florida Panhandle about one mile off the shore of Port St. Joe in St. Joseph Bay. It is the ONLY island in the bay that has any building, people or power on it. The island, owned and operated by Jeff Bowman, has 25 "bungalows" that resemble something from Figi or Bora bora. It is spectacular. Surrounding the island are miles of grass bottom teaming with sea life, from huge sharks to tiny sea scallops. The scallops are what bring people here. Via snorkel and goggles, people can harvest these delicious creatures from the grass beds. It may take a minute or two to acclimate your eyes to spot them on the bottom, but once you do get it, it's like a giant underwater Easter egg hunt.
Bob Brown, Director of Content for BOTE, dreamed up the trip. He has been scalloping in the bay his whole life. Instead of the annual visit to Disney or some other theme park, it was here that his family brought him to vacation year after year. Bob first visited Black's Island about two years ago and thought that it could make a great BOTE team weekend vacation. We could use the Stand Up Paddle Boards to go scalloping. He contacted our photographer Sean Murphy to see if he would be interested in the trip...the following is an excerpt from Sean telling his story of the weekend trip.
Bob: "You wanna go scalloping on Black's Island?"
Me: "Hell yeah! Where the F is Black's Island?"
I spent my whole life in and around the Florida Panhandle and never before heard off Black's Island. Let me tell you that this place is radical.
A small group of us from BOTE family converged on the small, privately owned island, just a few minutes boat ride from Port St. Joe. There are no cars or stores on the island so you need to be somewhat self sufficient. Jeff Bowman and his family run the island and tend to the guests. They were some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet.
Corey and I were shark fishing on the first night and got caught in a huge storm. The lightning and rain were so thick you couldn't see a foot in front of your face. If it were not for a random dock a few hundred yards from shore that I happened to run into, I would have been sucked out to sea. Oh, and if you love sharks like I do then this is the place for you. The only other place I have ever been that's as sharky as Black's Island was the Everglades. The rest of our trip was otherwise spent stress free, scalloping, fishing, cooking, and hanging out with the gang of kids. The weekend, as all great weekends do, seemed to go by way too quickly. " - Sean Murphy
For more information about Black's Island please visit www.blacksisland.com