Florida Travel: Eat, Bike, Surf and Play on St. Augustine Beach
Here's a guide to St. Augustine's great beaches, listed geographically from north to south.
History mingles with modern life in St. Augustine where you can shop, dine, and walk the shores where Spanish explorers first set foot hundreds of years ago.
St. Augustine beaches are both secluded and unspoiled, with more than 40 miles of scenic, well-preserved coastline.
Parks in the area give you the choice of parking off the beach and walking, swimming or sunbathing along the miles of immaculate coastline, or parking right on the sand and enjoying a dip in the surf near one of several staffed lifeguard towers.
Beaches in and near St. Augustine
South Ponte Vedra Beach
The St. Augustine beaches of Ponte Vedra feature sand dunes, shell-sprinkled shores and some of the most outstanding resorts in the country, where you can play the links and gaze at the Atlantic Ocean at the same time. In South Ponte Vedra, four points allow access onto the undisturbed coastline: Mickler Landing Beach, a county park, is one of the main beach access points for South Ponte Vedra beach, along with Gate Station Beach, South Ponte Vedra Recreation Area, and Usina Beach. To complement its ocean access, Usina Beach features shaded picnic areas, fire rings, and restrooms.
Guana River at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Headquartered north of historic St. Augustine, GTM Research Reserve is a 74,000-acre preserve that features more than four miles of beautiful, undeveloped coquina sand beach lined with 35-foot dunes. The park has three public beach access facilities, consisting of parking lots and associated dune crossover boardwalks. You can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, shelling and other traditional beach activities. When you’re done with these St. Augustine beaches, you can hike, bike or ride horses more than nine miles of nature trails and old service roads that wind through the hammock, scrub and flatwoods in the interior portion of the reserve. Make sure to stop by the Environmental Education Center Visitor Center to learn more about estuaries through exhibits and scavenger hunts for children.
This beach town is two miles from St. Augustine, but visitors usually pass it by as they turn off State Road A1A to cross the Vilano Bridge into St. Augustine. Nevertheless, it's a serene spot that features beautiful Atlantic coastline. This is a perfect getaway if you and your family are trying to avoid the bustle of the nearby big cities. The main beach attraction is the Vilano Beach Fishing Pier. Beach access is available at Surfside Park, where you can enjoy a picnic shelter, restrooms and showers.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park, located just 1½ miles from historic downtown St. Augustine, has everything you could want from a beach park. The park features about four miles of wide beach bordered by sand dunes, as well as a lagoon surrounded by rich tidal marshes. You can camp, fish, picnic and hike in and around the more-than 1,600-acre park. If you feel like being on the water, kayak and wind surf rentals are available. At low tide, the sand is hard packed and perfect for a bicycle ride. Folks can bring their own or rent one from the concession.
St. Augustine Beach
St. Augustine Beach located on the southern end of 18-mile Anastasia Island, features wide, beautiful beaches. The main entrance point is at St. Johns County Ocean Pier Park, but there are access points at street ends along the four-mile length of St. Augustine Beach. The pier features a four-acre beachfront park that has a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, a pavilion, volleyball courts, bait and tackle and concessions. A bonus: beachgoers can actually drive on the beach, from A Street south to Crescent Beach.
In the 1920s, a St. Augustine businessman, Frank B. Butler, bought this small stretch of land between the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean, and for many years, it was the only beach between Jacksonville and Daytona that welcomed African-Americans. It features the warm, sparkling water of the Atlantic Ocean. Stop here for a glowing sunrise or afternoon picnic. The park has a picnic area, restrooms and showers.
Located in southern St. Johns County, Crescent Beach has a wide shoreline that is characterized by its serene and unhurried setting. With towering sand dunes, shell-sprinkled shores and plentiful, natural foliage, Crescent Beach is truly a vacationer's paradise waiting to be discovered. The park offers off-beach parking, restrooms, showers and picnic areas. Search for seashells, take a dip in the water or just relax and enjoy the view.
Fort Matanzas National Monument Park
This beachfront park is home to Fort Matanzas National Monument, which was built in 1742 to protect the area from British forces. Boating, hiking, swimming, fishing, bird watching and kayaking are all popular activities around the area. The park offers a 0.6-mile, self-guided nature trail on a boardwalk through a coastal maritime forest and another boardwalk through the dunes to a beach overlook.