Exploring Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida
When I die, I have always said I want half of my ashes chucked off the fortress at Lindos on the Greek Island of Rhodes, and the other half tossed to the sea at Anastasia Island in St. Augustine. I chose Lindos because I knew it would force my children to travel afar and I selfishly wanted one last adventure with them, and Anastasia because it has always been my most favorite beach. I figured anytime they wanted to chat with mom, it would give them a day at the beach,( though I suspect the State Park officials would frown upon that final request!)
Florida’s northern east coast is known for it’s elongated white sandy landscapes, sea oat sprinkled dunes rising and falling like ocean waves, from the wild beach life of Daytona, known for it’s rowdy Spring Break parties, to the quiet solitude of drift wood trees on Little Talbot Island, and the historic importance of Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, there exists an east coast beach for everyone’s tastes. Near the historic city of old St. Augustine lies one such exceptionally pristine stretch at Anastasia State Park.
Mere minutes from the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, the beach at Anastasia State Park sweeps from the busier St. John’s County fishing pier to St. Augustine Inlet and the entrance of Matanzas Bay; four miles of beautiful white sugar sand and 1,600 acres of sand dunes, salt marshes, campgrounds, beach and picnicking areas. I have been building sand castles and jumping in the surf here since I was a child.
A couple of weeks ago we went to St. Augustine as our last hooray before life settled down to the school routine. My husband was itching to fish and his bait had been stinking up the freezer for ages, so we decided to have a beach day and let him use his bait at the same time. We arrived early to a near empty beach. We had stopped at the craft market at the St. John’s County fishing pier (free parking), but even though the pier facilities looked fairly new, with a children’s splash area too, the place was packed out, so I suggested Anastasia State Park. We have a park pass and I knew the usual per vehicle fee usually thins out the crowds, so less than 5 minutes north we found the entrance to Anastasia State Park, across from the Alligator Farm and next to the St. Augustine Lighthouse entrance.
The park ranger told us the best fishing was at the Salt Run, an inner coastal waterway and marsh where they allow kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing. We took the long drive to the beach parking area, passing a sign for the Coquina Quarry site. This was where the coquina used to build the Castillo de San Marcos was mined back in 1672.
Fishing is permitted in Anastasia State Park with a Florida Fishing License. The Salt Run was the recommended for fishing, but my husband just fished from the beach on the Atlantic coast side.
An updated parking area by the beach was a pleasant surprise, with concession stand and outdoor shower and toilet facilities, though the walk to the beach itself was longer than I remembered (the boardwalk path seemed the closest). The kids and I played in the surf while my husband fished, but the heat of the day drove us away, along with the usual Florida mid-day thunderstorm. We returned later, after a wander through old St. Augustine, to finish up the bait and enjoy the cooler hours on the beach.
Being a State Park, Anastasia does not allow cars on the beach- which provides plenty of space and freedom for building sand castles and relaxing.( One less worry for a parent.) And there was a life guard on duty too!
Before we left, we did ask about camping. Though the campsites are NOT on the beach (try Gamble Rogers State Park near Flagler Beach for beach camping), this looks like a cool place to camp, as it is only a bike ride into old St. Augustine. Next adventures in camping? Trust me, I have no intention on waiting until I’m ashes to enjoy all that Anastasia State Park has to offer!
What is your favorite Florida East Coast Beach?
Things to Know Before You Go
- Anastasia State Park is located at: 300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine, Florida 32080.
- Entry fee is $8 per vehicle. Save your receipt if you leave and plan to return later that day like we did.
- There are picnic areas if you want to bring in a lunch. They do sell food and beverages at the concession stand.
- There are also changing rooms, toilets & outdoor showers.
- Kayak, canoe, windsurfer and bike rentals are available at the shop adjacent to the concession stand.
- There is absolutely NO shade on this beach. And it gets hot! Bring sun umbrella, hat & sunscreen. We came early in the day and returned later when it cooled off.
- After our beach day we dined at the nearby Salt Life Food Shack by St. John’s County Pier. Yummy seafood, awesome sushi, live music and a rooftop dining area!
MMore Articles about the St. Augustine Area:
- St. Augustine Celebrates 450 years of History
- Exploring the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine’s Historic Fort
- Walking with Spirits: A Ghost Tour of St. Augustine
St. Augustine celebrates 450 years of history. The Birthday Party begins September 4th. Will you be there?