You can’t go to the northeastern coast of Florida without hitting up one of the gorgeous, white sand beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Thousands of visitors and locals alike flock to the pristine shorelines to swim, fish, surf, and hunt for seashells every day. Whether you’re looking for a quiet, less popular place to relax and unwind under the warm Florida sun, or are looking for a more beach-bum, electric vibe with outdoor dining options and kitschy surf stores, there’s a beach for you in St. Johns County! On our recent trip to St. Augustine, we visited the best 6 beaches on this list to give you the rundown on the popular places to visit and what you can expect on your beach adventures on the gorgeous Florida coastline!
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Anastasia State Park
One of Florida’s most popular state parks is the Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. It has a wide beach and a protected bird sanctuary. This place is also a must-visit area in the city.
You’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches right in Anastasia State Park, one of Florida’s most popular state parks. And for a good reason, with 1,700 acres including 5 miles of beach! The northern three miles are for beach walkers only, and any sign of civilization is hidden well away beyond the dunes. You’ll encounter fantastic wildlife as the state park is also a protected bird sanctuary!
Admission to the State Park is nominal, and you can spend the day swimming, hiking, and fishing. It’s also the perfect place to rent a kayak or paddleboard and try your hand at that since it’s not as rough as the other beaches in the area. Take advantage of the campground right in the state park, and you’ll be able to enjoy the activities and scenery for your entire stay! Plus, it’s only a short distance into downtown St. Augustine, so it’s really the best of both relaxing beach vacation and thrilling sites for history buffs!
Named after its natural coastline shape, Crescent Beach is a beautiful and fine white sand beach perfect for walking and playing beach volleyball.
Just south of St. Augustine, you’ll find a beautiful stretch of shoreline known as Crescent Beach. Named for the natural shape of the coastline here, the beautiful white sand is hard-packed, so you can ride beach bikes, walk, play frisbee, or start a game of beach volleyball! This area isn’t very commercial, so while you won’t find many shops and restaurants as in other beach areas, there are plenty of rentals, condos, and cottages available here if you’re looking for that quiet getaway. It’s an excellent place for families to spend the day swimming, surfing, and boogie boarding. Plus, you can drive right onto the beach!
Just be sure that you have a four-wheel-drive! There are strict rules that are enforced by the Sheriff’s department for the safety of all beachgoers. Vehicle access is offered from the Crescent Beach Ramp on Cubbedge Road. There are also restroom facilities, showers, picnic tables, a pavilion, and lifeguards during the summer seasons. You’ll need to pay a nominal fee to get onto the beach between March and Labor Day weekend.
The Vilano beach boasts its jaw-dropping sunset and sunrise views. It is a very popular area for fishing and enjoying the sea with jet skis.
North of St. Augustine’s historic district, on the north side of Matanzas Inlet, is Vilano Beach. It’s a quaint little town with tiled fountains and retro Art Deco details, and the beach itself is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Its location is perfect because you can enjoy both sunrises and sunsets from the southern end of the beach near Porpoise Point, which is also a popular place to fish and launch jet skis! You should note, however, that Vilano Beach has a very steep drop-off, heavy surf, and a strong current. While this is great for surfing and skimboarding, it can be a little dangerous when the tide is coming in! Be sure to visit the Vilano Beach Pier on the riverside of the island.
They host a variety of different events, and there are excellent restaurants and shops in the area, in case you forget your towel or sunscreen! You can also drive right onto the beach, but again, you’ll need four-wheel drive, and depending on the sand conditions, it may be restricted when you go. To gain access by vehicle, you’ll need to go through Porpoise Point. However, don’t be discouraged because there are lots of off-beach parking also available. While facilities like restrooms and showers are limited, the Surfside Walkover is another way to gain access, and you can also park your trailers to engage in horseback riding on the beach in this area! But you should note that you’ll need a permit before saddling up!
St. Augustine Beach
Known for its clear waters and white sands, St. Augustine Beach is the most popular beach in the city and is a must-visit place for tourists.
Just southeast of the historic district is roughly 2 miles of white-sands and clear waters known as St. Augustine Beach. This area is very popular with families and tourists. They have a kid-friendly splash pad available, but the surf in this area offers only small waves on most days and is suitable for children. You should, however, be aware that on windier days, you may need to use more caution with kids. However, windy days are a great time to try out bodyboarding or surfing at St. Augustine Beach! On the north end of the beach, you’ll find St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier, which is excellent for a relaxing stroll or casting a line!
Getting here can be a bit more complicated than the other beaches in the area, thanks to limited complimentary street and lot parking. If you plan on driving, you’ll definitely need to plan on getting there early! You can also get there by bus or aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours’ beach shuttle, which will take you there for free! St. Augustine Beach also has restrooms, volleyball courts, a covered pavilion, and outdoor showers. While the beach is open 24 hours per day, you’ll need to be aware that parking is only available until 7:30pm during sea turtle nesting season starting May 1st through October 31st. You’ll also find a variety of open area cafes, bars, and shops to grab a bite to eat, a sweatshirt for when it gets cold, or just to bounce around and browse in!
Butler Beach is a quiet location named after an African-American businessman named Frank B. Butler who lived as a local in the area.
Right on Anastasia Island, just two miles south of St. Augustine Beach is Butler Beach. It’s a quiet place with full facilities for visitors to use! Named after Frank B. Butler, a local African American businessman, and leader in the St. Augustine civil rights movement, Butler Beach was a segregated beach for blacks only sandwiched between the whites-only Crescent and St. Augustine beaches. In June of 1964, Butler led a “wade-in” where a group of African Americans entered the white-only beaches and led to a violent confrontation and several arrests.
This incident, however, caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who then came to St. Augustine, and led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act just later that year. Butler Beach is accessible by on-beach driving and off-beach parking, right on A1A south. You should, however, be aware that the sand dunes in this area are protected and monitored since they are home to the endangered Anastasia Island Beach Mouse and the gopher tortoise. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them when you venture over the boardwalks!
Flagler is one of the must-visit beaches in St. Augustine. It offers rust-tinted sand because of the crushed shells. The area also has open-air restaurants and other fascinating establishments.
Though a bit of a drive from St. Augustine proper, Flagler Beach is a must-visit when you’re in the area. Not only does it offer miles and miles of sparkling beaches, with rust-tinted sand thanks to the crushed shells, but it also is home to a very retro, beach-town! Enjoy the open-air restaurants, art galleries, and beachside shops that line the boardwalk up and down the road. Flagler is also home to a magnificent fishing pier and six-plus mile of spectacular ocean views.
It’s definitely a beach town, where you can enjoy listening to local music from rooftop cafes overlooking the ocean! It’s a fantastic way to spend the day, rolling in the sand, surfing the waves, and catching some rays! Oh, and if you’re looking for some really delicious food, check out Wham-Burger! It’s right across from the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier, and they have the best burgers and totchos (those are tater tot nachos) that you’ve ever eaten!