Here on the First Coast we have an abundance of beaches available to enjoy. Let’s go down the coast and take a look at some of them.
Fort Clinch State Park
Sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing are popular activities at this beach. Anglers can fish from the pier or do some surf fishing. Shell collecting shark and tooth hunting produce great results.
Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island
There are 13 miles of flawless beaches, lots of wildlife and clear, calm water. Parking at the beach is free; the largest public beach accesses are located along South Fletcher Avenue at Main Beach Park, Seaside Park and Peter’s Point. Four-wheel drive vehicles have the right to use the beach at Seaside Park, Peter’s Point and Amelia Island State Park on the south end of the island. However, all non-county residents must have a beach driving permit. Public restrooms are located at Main Beach Park (Atlantic and South Fletcher), Peter’s Point (South Fletcher toward south end of island), Burney Park at American Beach, and Seaside Park (near Sliders). Pets are allowed on Nassau County’s Atlantic coast beaches, but must be on a leash. Pet owners are responsible for immediate clean up.
Talbot Islands State Parks
Located within the Jacksonville city limits, the Talbot Islands are located in the northeast portion of Jacksonville on Heckscher Drive (A1A), about 20 miles from downtown. The parks are open from 8am to sunset, 365 days a year. There are five miles of beautiful beaches, with the northern section of the beach offering the best surf. Swimming is allowed in the Atlantic Ocean except in the area of the St. Johns River at the south end of the island, but there are no lifeguards on duty. There are two parking areas and five boardwalks, so access to the beach is easy. Three bathhouses and outdoor showers are also provided.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
This beach with 1.5 miles of sandy beach is located in the Mayport area and is well known by surfers and shell seekers alike. Most of the land has been left in its natural, wooded state. Boardwalks go over the dunes to protect vegetation. It has bathrooms, showers, picnic tables and pavilions. This park has a splash park, two playgrounds, kayak and paddleboat rentals, fishing accommodations, shaded campground areas; bike trails, hiking trails, shaded picnic areas, and a fresh water lake.
Atlantic and Neptune Beaches
North of Jacksonville Beach, these two cities share a common downtown area. There are many public access points within the two small cities, along with many public parks. There are lifeguards on the weekends from May through Labor Day. Alcoholic beverages, glass containers and grills are not allowed. Dogs are only allowed on the beach before 9AM and after 5PM and must be on a leash.
The City of Jacksonville Beach has more than 4.1 miles of sandy beaches which offer leisure opportunities year round. Beach chairs for the disabled are available upon request at the lifeguard station.
- 2nd Avenue North – Public Restrooms & Shower — Boardwalk
- 5th Avenue North – Public Restrooms & Shower — North side of pier parking lot
- 19th Avenue North – Portalet & Shower — street end
- 6th Avenue South – Portalet — Oceanfront Park SE side of parking lot
- 7th Avenue South – Public Shower
The Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, at 503 North 1st Street, is nearly a quarter of a mile long. Open from 6 AM to 10 PM, it offers a concession and bait shop, restrooms, and is wheel-chair accessible.
- Fishermen: $4.00
- Spectators: $1.00
- Children: Under 6: Free
The family friendly beach is at the south end of Ponte Vedra on A1A at the traffic light for Micklers Road. For those with small children it’s good to know there is a lifeguard on duty and renovated restroom facilities. The generous parking lot, with 248 spots, is free and there are two outdoor showers available. Leashed pets and horseback riding are allowed. There is a handicapped accessible dune walkover.
Guana Tolomato Mantanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is the full name of this beach area. It’s located off A1A between Ponte Vedra and Vilano Beach. If you are looking for a quiet, less crowded place, this is for you. There are beach access areas along A1A. The parking lots are on the west side; beachgoers cross the street to staired boardwalks that go over the dunes and onto a lovely coquina sand beach. The south access is wheelchair accessible. There are no lifeguards and pets are not allowed on the beach here. The beach access parking areas are open from 8AM until sunset and are equipped with port-a-potties. The entrance fees are payable on the honor system as you enter the parking lot.
To reach this beach, take the Vilano Bridge over the intracoastal and go north on A1A. At the second highway walkover make a left into the park. The beach has restrooms, showers, highway walkover, off beach parking grills, playground, and picnic pavilion. The pavilion may be reserved for private picnics.
Just two miles north east of Historic St. Augustine, Vilano is one of the few places in north Florida that allows cars on the beach. It costs three dollars to park in the summer and is free in the winter. Most people that visit here come to either fish, escape the crowds, or ride the waves. This beach has restrooms, dune walkover, covered picnic tables, and showers. Lifeguards are staffed seasonally. Visitors can watch the sunset from the pier.
Anastasia State Park Located on Anastasia Island, at St. Augustine Inlet, this beach is just one mile east of downtown St. Augustine and directly north of St. Augustine Beach. It offers windsurfing, kayaking, snack bar, nature trails, a dune walkover, campground, restrooms, picnic tables, and showers. Lifeguards are staffed seasonally.
St. Augustine Beach
On Anastasia Island, go four miles south of downtown St. Augustine on Highway A1A Beach Blvd. This beach offers fishing, picnicking, and a splash park, a pavilion that can be rented out for special events, restrooms, picnic tables, showers, and a visitor center. Lifeguards are staffed seasonally. Here the SJC Ocean Fishing Pier is the first of the pedestrian access points within the City of St. Augustine Beach limits.
On Anastasia Island just three miles south of St. Augustine Beach at 6930 A1A South, you will find Crescent Beach. There are restrooms, a dune walkover, covered picnic tables, and showers. Pavilions on a first come first serve basis. Lifeguards are staffed seasonally.
With all these beaches to choose from, there is no time like now for a beach day! So, throw your towel and chair in the car, pack a lunch and go for it!