Choctaw Lodge Bed & Breakfast Retreat
Table Of Contents
Welcome To Our Backyard! That is the Standard greeting guests receive when arriving at Choctaw Lodge Bed & Breakfast Retreat. Owners Ron and Kathryn Hardy are always delighted to share their "place In Paradise" with nature enthusiasts in search of a unique encounter with the natural beauty of the Choctawhatchee River. The Hardy's have much to offer their guests including bird watching, nature and plant photography, swamp tours, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and much more in an area relatively unknown to most people. "It is the best kept secret in the Panhandle of Florida," the owners explain, "and our goal is to preserve it in its pristine and natural state as long as we are here."
Choctaw Lodge is located on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River between Ebro and Bruce, FL. Though secluded, guests are only 25 minutes away from Panama City Beach and 35 miles away from Destin, Seaside, and Grayton Beach. The EO Wilson Biophilia Nature Center at Nokuse Plantation is only seven miles from the Lodge and borders much of the Nokuse Conservation property. The Choctaw Lodge river front property includes three houses nestled among an array of indigenous trees including cypress, cedar and hard woods. Many species of flowers, birds (some rare) and animals can be viewed on this beautiful river. Through guided tours you will discover hidden natural springs and lakes only the locals know about or you may venture out on your own exploring in canoes and kayaks. Your days end with sunsets around the fire pits or a sunset cruise in one of our tour boats. When weather does not permit activities in the open boats, there is always the lodge's own 48' houseboat, "The Choctaw Lady".
With only a handful of dwellings between the lodge and Highway 20, Choctaw Lodge is surrounded by tens of thousands of acres dedicated to the preservation through water management plus the Nokuse Plantation with their 48,000 acres of protected land, assuring the survival and conservation of this beautiful area.
"This is not your typical Bed and Breakfast," explains Kathryn, "It is a "RETREAT" offering so much more and is dedicated to the conservation of this beautiful and rare part of Northwest Florida. It is a peaceful, tranquil lifestyle we have grown to love and it is our pleasure to make sure your stay at Choctaw Lodge is memorable. After your initial visit, we will anxiously await your return as everyone who experiences this river and Choctaw Lodge, does return!"
P.O. Box 189
Ebro, FL 32437
Meals at Choctaw Lodge Bed and Breakfast
As a bed and breakfast home it is our pleasure to offer a variety of morning meals to accommodate your stay with us. Meals vary from day to day as we take pride in our unique blend of southern cuisine and gourmet flavors. Choose from delicious continental pastries, fresh fruits or full course morning meals. On Sunday mornings enjoy from a special Sunday Brunch menu with champagne. For those with special dietary needs, we will be happy to work with you on a personal basis. Just let us know prior to your arrival. Breakfast is served in the main lodge from 7 - 9 am. Afternoon Tea/Desserts are served 2 - 3 pm.
Each day a selection of pastries, cereals, oatmeal, fruit, coffee and tea are available. Or you may order from our chef's special menu which includes hot meals fresh from the kitchen. Choices from the chef's special menu must be planned prior to your arrival in order to assure freshness and prompt service. (Menu may change periodically due to seasonal availability). All Meals Include Your Choice of Coffee, Tea, Milk or Juices.
Trips & Activities For Guests
Here at Choctaw Lodge, our retreat offers many daily trips and different activities on the river. The trips are specially suited for nature lovers who are in search of the best and most complete experience possible on the Choctawhatchee River. Our goal is to make your visit pleasant, comfortable and personal for you. In order to meet your expectations, we suggest a customized trip designed to best suit your needs and time on the River. Whatever your choice, discovering the Choctawhatchee river by chartered boat, canoes or kayaks, will allow you to experience this wonderful life on the river.
Our Guide boats are available for charter with a licensed Captain. Having a licensed Captain aboard frees you to enjoy the scenery and concentrate on spotting and photographing wild life, plant life and birds, (or fishing as our captains know the best fishing spots around). Your Captain will also take you into beautiful pristine, hidden lakes known only to a few locals, or you may choose to discover our beautiful natural spring fed swimming holes ... Not to mention our own personal favorite sandbars we love to swim at ourselves.
Choctaw Lodge offers 1/2 day or all day trips with our experienced Captain aboard one of our three motor boats. Our canoes and kayaks are a free amenity to you as a guest staying at the lodge. However, if you require a guide, our Captains are available to give you a guided tour by canoe or kayak for a fee. If you have your own canoes or kayaks, feel free to bring them with you.
There are over 79 species of birds living in this area including birds of prey such as osprey, hawks, owls and eagles. You may also spot other species of birds such as the blue heron, egrets, red-bellied woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker and the Mississippi kite, among many, many others. It has been rumored that the "possibly" extinct ivory-billed woodpecker has been spotted in this area. You may want to keep a sharp look out just in case! Keep a keen eye open for our leaping Sturgeons as well. These prehistoric fish are found in the Choctawhatchee River during spawning season. They can weigh up to 160 lbs and are often seen leaping two to three feet out of the water during the season. They do make quite a splash! Other fish in this river include bass, channel catfish, brim, sunfish and mullet, among others. More times than not, you will spot alligators resting on the river banks while the sun warms their cold blooded bodies. Three feet? Six feet? Eleven Feet? Yes we have seen them all! Only in winter months while hibernating do you not see alligators. Turtles lazily sleep on logs while snails lay their eggs at the bases of 1000 year old cypress trees. Twenty-one aquatic snails and freshwater mussel species exist in the Choctawhatchee river. Some of these species are found only in this river. Other wildlife in this area, but rarely seen are Black Bear, Coyotes, Florida Panther, Bob Cats, Deer and Wild Hogs. Turkeys are often seen on our roads in the early mornings.
Along with thriving cypress and cedar trees, other species of plant life found up and down the river include magnolia trees, needle palms, yellow (flame) wild azaleas, rare orchids, ferns, willows, Southern Pine, Beech, Laurel Oak, Basswood, Florida Maple, the fragrant Tupelo and American Holly. Many other plants adorn the river banks making every season unique and interesting throughout the year. At the right time of season, our Captain may pull up to wild scuppernong grape vines growing on the river banks. Yummy!
Visit the Specials tab for more information and prices of the activity packages offered.
About the Owners
Owners Ron and Kathryn Hardy were both raised on rivers. Ron on the Tensaw River in the Mobile River Delta and Kathryn on the Ocmulgee River in Georgia. While living and working in Panama City Beach, they were longing to live on a river as they did growing up. To their surprise and delight, they discovered the Choctawhatchee River coincidentally, after finding river front property for sale scribbled on a note card and attached to a bulletin board at a local feed and seed shop.
"The rest is history" explains Ron, "The short version of the story is, we found paradise, retired and built our dream home, Choctaw Lodge. As we were building the lodge, the riverfront houses on both sides of us became available, so we bought and remodeled each one. Our goal was to have plenty of space for friends and family while visiting. We have been blessed with a great life."
In the past ten years, Ron and Kathryn have been privileged to meet photographers, scientists, environmentalists, nature lovers and bird watchers from all over the United States. With this area so isolated, it is hard for visitors to find a place to stay on the river so they can experience closeness to nature and have easy access to the river everyday. The Hardy's property was a perfect solution to the needs of these special visitors. "We love to entertain and open our lives to people who share the same interest and appreciation of this fragile and beautiful environment surrounding Choctaw Lodge." Kathryn speaks from the heart, "It was only natural after so many requests to open our doors to the people with like interests. Since Ron is a licensed boat captain we are able to accommodate the needs of our guests both on land and on water."