The park has miles of white sugar sand, with one of the top rated beaches in the United States. Sunbathing, snorkeling, and swimming are popular activities. Canoeists and kayakers can take in a superb view of the high dunes and sand pine scrub. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and bicycling. St. Joseph provides excellent opportunities for bird watching; over 240 species have been sighted in the park.
However, many visitors discover on arrival that the park is remote with no convenient access to restaurants, stores, or other tourist activities. Many are also surprised to learn of the park policy of not spraying to control insects. Mosquitoes and dog flies can be fierce, to the extent of occasionally rendering the beaches unusable. Insect and water conditions can be determined by calling the local park headquarters in advance of arrival.