Matanzas Beach (Near Marineland)
We prefer the area just south of the “official” beach access point, where we trek down the rocks and take in an incredibly expansive view. “Wow” is the word that best describes this beach that stretches out off the end of the southern tip of Anatasia Island, about a 10-minute drive south of St. Augustine and just north of Marineland. It is a little windy but superior privacy, warm tidal pools, a jetty, and rock formations make it an excellent adventure. One day last September while enjoying the beach my daughter found a baby sea turtle called a ‘washback’. We stayed with it without touching it until animal rescue came to help. That was a wonder to behold. There is also a great walking path, from the parking area that meanders down under the bridge along the Intracoastal side and then hugs the coastline on the beachside. Facilities: Area offers vehicle access to the north only as of January 1, 2010, restrooms, off-beach parking, dune walkover, restrooms. Lifeguards are seasonal.
Closest to Home
Mickler’s Beachfront Park (MIKE-LER)
Yes, yes. We know. Its called ‘Mike-ler’. Located at the South end of Ponte Vedra Beach on Highway A1A, this is a full-service beach with restrooms and lifeguards. The only drawback is during the season it can get quite crowded so it is best to get there early or later in the day if you want parking and a premium spot to set up your beach umbrella. This beach has beautiful coquina sand (a little hard on the feet) and is somewhat narrow but it is has great energy and is always filled with lots of families and surfers seem to like too.
The Crown Jewels
St. Augustine Beach, Butler Beach
& Crescent Beach
On Anastasia Island 4 miles south of downtown St. Augustine on Highway A1A Beach Blvd in the City of St. Augustine Beach. Surfers say the 10th Street entrance has the best waves. The beach offers lots of wide-open space to really have privacy or hang with the crowd if that suits your fancy.
Or, if you are looking for even more action, the area near the pier or at the splash park is usually filled with families. This beach offers fishing, picnicking, a splash park, a pavilion that can be rented out for special events, restrooms, picnic tables, showers, and a visitor center are available. Lifeguards are staffed seasonally.
Further down you will find the more peaceful Crescent and Butler Beaches.
Vilano Beach & Porpoise Point
If you do not feel like carrying all your beach stuff too far, this is one of our favorites because you simply drive your car up on the beach and unpack. Look across the Matanzas inlet from Porpoise Point and you will see the beautiful city of St. Augustine. Porpoise Point was named for the frequent porpoise sightings in the past but nowadays you may only see some dolphins. With full services, including dune walkover, covered picnic tables, and showers. This is a popular spot for fishing and launching jet skis. The pavilion may be reserved. Lifeguards staffed seasonally.
Anastasia State Park Beach
On Anastasia Island, at St. Augustine Inlet, 1 mile east of downtown St. Augustine and directly north of St. Augustine Beach at 340-A A1A South, St. Augustine. This park, beach and home of the St. Augustine Amphitheater provides a beautiful setting and is especially good for days when you want everything provided, from water sports to food and beverages to lifeguards. Anastasia State Park is different because it is run by the state so your county beach pass just won’t do. A day pass is $8 per car. For more information, contact Anastasia State Park, (904) 461-2033. When you are finished at the beach make time to climb the stairs at the St. Augustine Lighthouse (nearby) for a one-of-a-kind panorama of the nation’s oldest and most beautiful beachfront and city!.
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach: Popularly known as Guana, this beach and reserve located between Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano is perhaps the most pristine of any along our coast. Three access points allow visitors to park across the road and even on a sunny Saturday or Sunday, you’ll almost always find a space to park. The beach at the north lot has a large sandbar which is helpful if you have little ones but be advised, there is no lifeguard. And if you’re interested in learning about wildlife and habitat unique to the area, visit the GTM Environmental Education Center. It’s a great place to bring your kids or guests from out of town. (505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082, (904) 823-4500. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/gtm)
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