PORT ST. JOE — Just a couple of miles off the coast of Port St. Joe, a 7-acre private island with no roads, one restaurant and 26 private bungalows awaits anyone looking for a quiet Florida getaway.
Black’s Island, which is situated in the middle of St. Joseph Bay, has mostly been a well-kept secret for decades. Bill Koran, the owner of the island for the past 40 years, said he’s used it mostly for summer camps and super-secluded vacation rentals.
But Koran recently decided to open up the island's 26 two-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalows up to visitors, as well as a four-story clubhouse complete with a full-service restaurant, spa and sauna.
“People want to come here because it is an island, and with that comes security, privacy and exclusivity,” Koran said. “We have people who want to get away from the maddening crowds and just relax.”
The island, which is just over 100 miles from the Fort Walton Beach area, is a far cry from the chair-to-chair crowds and U. S. Highway 98 gridlock of Okaloosa and Walton County beaches in the summertime.
It’s accessible only by boat, and there’s no grocery store, gas station or T-shirt shop in sight. The only lodging are the bungalows, built just four years ago, each with its own waterfront view. Ten are available for rental at $500 per night, while the rest can be purchased for $1.2 million a pop.
Each of the bungalows sleeps six and has a full kitchen, along with a washer and dryer.
Koran said the facilities are currently under restoration, and he plans to add two additional restaurants as well as two full-service bars to the property. Those amenities won’t be available until after the summer, he said, but people wanting to come before then can still enjoy one of three sandy beaches, as well as boating, snorkeling and fishing in absolute privacy.
“The island is located in one of the best snorkeling and fishing spots in Florida,” he said. “There are a lot of water activities, and no traffic, no cars. There are 1,000 palm trees. It’s a totally different feel, most people don’t even believe something like this exists.”
Locals who live in the Port St. Joe area say they don't visit Black's Island much, but it's known as a quiet, secluded place with lots of fish.
Vincent Bosstick, who lives in Cape San Blas, said he’s gone out to the island on his paddleboard several times. According to local lore, around 10 emus roam free on the property.
“The locals don’t really have too much input” about the island, he said. “It’s just kind of there, and there’s good fishing around it.”
Koran said in the past, he’s had well-known visitors come to the island whose names he can’t release, but described them as people who “just really needed to get away.”
“It’s just a real relaxing place,” he said. “A laid-back type of facility.”