Stretching some 30 miles from end-to-end and spanning 4 to 6 miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is home to a teeming abundance of redfish, speckled trout, shrimp, oysters, gulf menhaden, blue crab, flounder, striped mullet, white mullet, and of course, the ever-delightful dolphins.
Choctawhatchee Bay is also home to endangered species, including the giant gulf sturgeon (think huge alligator-looking fish), which seasonally migrate through the bay up into the Choctawhatchee River system to spawn.
If you don’t have a boat or some kind of watercraft, there are still plenty of places and ways to access and enjoy the bay (aside from simply rubber-necking as you cross the 331 bridge). For tranquil vistas of the grassy shallows, visit Eden Gardens State Park or Hogtown Bayou (on County Road 393 North), where you can watch the wildlife and, if you’re lucky, spot a pod of dolphins fishing for mullet.
Just north across Choctawhatchee Bay, the new Live Oak Landing offers campsites, quaint cottages, guided fishing excursions and more, all along the gorgeous Black River.
For bay-side dining and nightlife (as well as jet skis, kayaks and other water rentals), visit the excellent marina at Baytowne Wharf. Chef Jim Shirley’s new restaurant The Bay, located right on the shore of the Choctawhatchee, is perfect for grabbing a bite, a drink and taking in the sunset.
If gator-spotting is on your Bucket List (although hopefully it’s not the last item on your list), schedule a river tour with Smiling Fish Charters. Choctawhatchee’s undeveloped rivers and canals are absolutely beautiful and are also abundant with wildlife of all varieties, including ospreys and bald eagles.