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Did you know that you can stay in a townhouse on the beach for less than the cost of a night’s stay at a Holiday Inn Express?! Port St Joe, Florida, located in the panhandle of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, is arguably one of the best places to stay on the beach on a budget. Located between Apalachicola and Panama City, “Saint Joe” offers some of the best fishing and fresh oysters and is close to some of the best beaches along the Emerald Coast.
It’s been two years since our last family vacation, and I wanted this trip to be extra special. My husband travels for work nearly every other week, and our family truly needed to recharge and reconnect. We’ve booked through Homeaway and VRBO before, but we wanted to try Airbnb, hoping for a better experience. Our last stay in St. Joe was less than stellar through Homeaway. So I did my research to try to avoid the disaster that was our last vacation. I know that the homeowner makes all the difference, and at the last home, the screens were all ripped, the house was unclean, and we had to trek about 100 yards to get to the beach (past several other townhomes that were blocking our view).
Side Note: my husband went to school in Apalachicola, so he’s quite biased to Port St Joe, Florida as a vacation place, and I agree. It’s a great place to visit! We enjoy fishing for flounder at Port St. Joe Marina, visiting Lynn’s Quality Oysters in Eastpoint, and collecting driftwood and cruising the beach on a golf cart, which we were able to do this time as the homeowners offer a golf cart for rent! Talk about a handy way to load up (even though the beach is a mere steps from the deck)!
The Best Beachfront Townhouse in Port St Joe Florida
I’m a researcher by nature. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a free-spirited nerd, so when I decide I want to do something, I won’t stop until I’ve done it….but not without researching it to death first! I scoured the internet for days, searching for the perfect place to stay in Port St Joe Florida on the beach, and I came across Tighe and Debbie’s townhouse. The following is a list of some of my requirements and how the townhouse fit our family’s needs:
Our budget was the #1 priority for me. Since we have decided to be a cash-only vacationing household, we wanted to make sure that we had enough funds to pay for the vacation, with money leftover for activities. We operate on a zero-based budget, so we took cash and kept track of everything from gas money to food to activities, such as visiting the Gulfarium and watching the dolphin show! Our total budget, all-in, for our family of five, was $2100 for the entire week.
Here’s how we spent it:
We stayed two nights at the Embassy Suites in Miramar Beach using mostly Hilton reward points since my husband is a frequent traveler for work. This is a major perk for us because what would have cost us $900 for two nights ended up costing $150 (just for the stays). It cost us 120,000 Hilton Honors points to stay 2 nights, and I believe we only had about 80,000 points, so the $150 was the difference we had to pay. The cool thing about our room was that it was a queen suite. While we had to share a bedroom with two queen beds, we had a separate living area with a sofabed for extra space.
We stayed 4 nights at this exact townhome in Port St Joe, and our total including cleaning, taxes, and fees was $897.04:
- 4 Nights x $150 = $600
- $150 Cleaning Fees
- $94.54 Service Fees (Airbnb brokerage fees)
- $52.50 Occupancy Taxes
The rest of our budget was spent on gasoline, fishing licenses, activities, and food for the week.
Since we live in Illinois, landlocked from any decent water, being beachfront was very important to me. We’ve stayed in places with a slight view of the ocean but never anywhere that we could sit on our screened in porch and watch guided horse tours along the beach while we sipped a glass of wine. This place had the best view in Port St. Joe!
Room for Our Family of Five
Our kids don’t all need their own bedroom on vacation. They usually all sleep together during our vacations anyway, on account of being more comfortable in a new environment (plus being able to slumber party it up). We just needed enough space for my husband and me to have some privacy and the kids to be able to get away to their own spot in the house in case they needed some time alone. Our Airbnb was perfect for this because it had two bedrooms including a master bedroom with an ensuite, a second bedroom with two twin beds (and a second full bathroom…another requirement as 5 people sharing a single toilet is never fun), and a full loft with a sofabed and cozy recliners. Honestly, my kids all slept upstairs in the loft together (wherever they decided to fall asleep) most nights.
Ok so I balked a little at the $150 cleaning fee, but I can honestly say it was well-spent. When we first arrived, we walked up the first level of the deck, which was freshly swept with no sand (no need to worry about the littles slipping). The patio was clean, and the patio doors were sparkling clean. We walked into the townhouse which was set to a cool 75 degrees, and every piece of glass was clean, with not a single water spot. The floors were smooth and spotless, and the bathrooms didn’t have a single hair in sight! The owners and the cleaners had left us gift baskets with snacks, wine, cheese, candies, a beach towel, magnets, a postcard from St. Joe, bug spray, sunscreen, lip balm, and so much more that I’m probably forgetting to mention!
This was such a sweet gesture from both the cleaning company and the owners, Debbie and Tighe. We’ve never been treated with such hospitality when renting other townhouses, so we truly felt like special visitors! If you live in the Port St. Joe Florida area and are looking for a cleaning company, I highly recommend Mary Clayton at Polished to Perfection!
I don’t know if y’all have been near the water in Florida. But mosquitos and yellow flies are a pain to contend with! My husband loves grilling. And even though the house has a full kitchen, I knew we’d spend many evenings outside, drinking, looking at the ocean, and barbequing. To keep the bugs out, a screened-in porch (with no holes or rips) is absolutely vital for enjoyment! There was plenty of seating. We had friends come over for dinner one night, and the adults sat outside for drinks while the kids played inside. We were still able to see them since the patio doors are bright and clean.
Full Kitchen & Washer/Dryer
Since we were on a strict budget, we knew we’d need to cook quite a bit and eat at “home”. Hotels don’t offer but a tiny mini-fridge and microwave, and that just wasn’t an option for us. So we were thankful to see not only a full kitchen, but that it was stocked up with plenty of cookware, silverware, paper towels, and even a bar with glasses and corkscrews.
We also needed a washer and dryer because with three kids and sometimes more than one trip to the beach per day, we showered a lot and took advantage of the washer and dryer. At the properties we’ve stayed at previously, we had to supply our own paper towels and Tide PODS. But I was so pleased to see that these weren’t items that I had to go to town for! A quick, 10 minute trip to the Piggly Wiggly or Dollar General Market wouldn’t have been a problem. But it sure was nice to have this provided for us. One less thing to worry about!
Towels were beautiful, soft spa-like towels, and there were plenty of towels for the entire family to use a time or two before we had to wash a load. We brought our own beach towels, but these towels were so soft and cozy!
Golf Cart for Convenience
In parts of Port St. Joe (where we stayed) and neighboring Cape San Blas, with a permit, you can drive on the beach! This makes things so much easier when carrying coolers and beach toys and fishing gear to and from the beach. Debbie and Tighe offer a golf cart for use for an extra $50 per day or $250 per week. They also had plenty of beach gear, including chairs, umbrellas, toys, and even a bicycle in the shed. We used the golf cart every single day we were there. I asked Debbie if she would allow us to use the golf cart free of charge if I was to write a post sharing my experience at their townhome, and she agreed. It truly was a lifesaver for us, and in the future, we will be renting the golf cart.
I can honestly say that this is the best vacation my family has ever had! With all of the conveniences of home, friendly and clean accommodations, and a beautiful view on a budget, we will be staying in this Port St Joe Florida townhome again! You can check rates here as they vary based on time of year and length of stay! Thanks to Debbie and Tighe for providing us with memories that will last a lifetime!