10 Best Beaches in St. Augustine, FL
The city of St. Augustine, Florida is most famous for its historical significance as the oldest city in the United States, but its pristine beaches are just as worthy of attention.
Besides the soft white sands of St. Augustine's 42 miles of beaches, the less populated oceanfront compared to other Florida destinations provides a tranquil day in the sun along the Atlantic Coast.
The beach backdrop for St. Augustine adds an elegance to the city defined by its 450-year-old history. When visitors are not heading down to the oceanfront to relax by the waves or stroll along St. Johns County Ocean Pier, they are browsing boutique shops along the brick-lined streets or riding in the horse-drawn carriages that are iconic in the city square.
There are various types of sand on the beaches of St. Augustine. St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach have soft, white sugary sand that is hard-packed. Others, like Matanzas Inlet and Vilano Beach, are made up of crushed coquina shells and are darker in color. Each offers unique experiences, from surf-worthy waves to fossilized sharks' teeth to be found in the sand.
The best times to visit St. Augustine beaches is March through November. Plan your time along the Atlantic coast with our list of the top beaches in St. Augustine.
1. St. Augustine Beach
Beautiful St. Augustine Beach is the main beach of the city. It is a socially active beach with a farmers market every Wednesday morning and outdoor evening concerts every Wednesday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
This beach is important to the history of St. Augustine as it was the location of a wade-in protest during the Civil Rights Movement.
Today, the beach is popular with tourists and locals who come to enjoy the soft sand, shoreline, and surfing on its impressive waves.
The St. Johns County Ocean Pier is the centerpiece of the beach and a popular place for anglers. For a small fee, you can access the pier for great views of the beach, people-watching, or enjoying the sunset views from the benches.
The visitor center at the pier is a great place to get general information on the area and recommendations of things to do and places to eat and to pick up coupon books to use for discounts in the area.
Most visitors to the beach enjoy long walks along the shoreline with the Atlantic water brushing against their feet, or just relaxing beneath a large shade umbrella from one of the nearby beach rental companies, like Anastasia Watersports inside the Anastasia State Park. If you bring a bike on vacation, the packed sand of St. Augustine Beach is ideal for an oceanside bike ride.
St. Augustine Beach is one of the most convenient beaches in the area as far as access and amenities. There is ample parking with beach access. Driving is permitted on the beach at certain times with a permit. Restrooms and showers are available near the pier.
There are a number of seaside dining options at St. Augustine beach and quick casual dining options. There are even some pet-friendly restaurants, as pets are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash.
Where to Stay: There is various lodging around St. Augustine Beach, from condominiums and hotels to private home rentals. The Castillo Real An Ascend Hotel is a family-friendly hotel with beach access, and La Fiesta Ocean Inn & Suites is located on St. Augustine Beach, with balcony rooms and Jacuzzi suites.
Address: 350 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine, Florida
2. Ponte Vedra Beach
Ponte Vedra Beach is one of the most popular beaches in St. Augustine, especially for visitors hoping to find sharks' teeth or who want to experience the highest sand dunes in Florida.
Ponte Vedra got its name from an early European explorer who charted the destination on his map. In fact, the most notable marker at the beach is a 15-foot statue of Ponce de Leon with a display depicting his travels in 1513, when he sighted land at this spot.
The Ponte Vedra Beach area is popular for its luxury resorts, and it's the home of the PGA Tour. It is a popular beach for water recreation, including surfing, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding, along with birding and fishing in the area's estuaries and marshes.
Besides sun and sand, Ponte Vedra Beach is a perfect spot to find sharks' teeth, some of them dating back to the Ice Age. The best access point for combing the beach for sharks' teeth is at Mickler's Landing. Stroll close to the waterline and look for sharks' teeth, which can range in color from grey, brown, and black to red.
Lighter teeth are from living sharks, while the sought after darker teeth are fossilized and can be 15 to 25 million years old. The best time to search for shark teeth is after a storm, when the waves stir up the sand on the beach.
Picnicking is a great way to enjoy a day at the beach by utilizing the grills and picnic tables that are available at the South Ponte Vedra Beach recreation area, or you can stroll to one of the nearby beachside dining restaurants. Ponte Vedra Beach has off-beach parking and restroom facilities, and dogs are permitted as long as they are on a leash.
Where to Stay: Ponte Vedra is surrounded by luxury seaside resorts that feature world-class resorts and spas. The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach and the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club are both seaside accommodations with upscale lodging.
Address: 2993 S. Ponte Vedra Blvd., St. Augustine, Florida
3. Vilano Beach
Water sports are diverse at Vilano Beach, from fishing and skimboarding to jet skiing. By far the most popular recreation at this beach is the surfing, which is some of the best in the area due to the heavy surf and current created by the steep drop-off in the water.
The modern Vilano Beach Pier is a fun place to sit and people-watch. Its design mimics the rest of the artsy feel of Vilano Beach, with a dolphin designed archway spanning the pier and various statues along the walkway, including the Bluebird of Happiness, which is a favorite backdrop for selfie photos. The free pier is a popular spot for fishing and for unobstructed views of the St. Augustine skyline.
There are plenty of public beach access points along Vilano Beach, from footpaths and walkovers to a few 4WD vehicle paths, which can be used with a permit. A day visit to the beach is convenient, with easy public parking, picnic tables, restroom facilities, and showers available. The beach is pet-friendly, so dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash.
One of the most popular spots on Vilano Beach is on Porpoise Point, where you can find cars parked in the sand on most evenings to catch the stunning St. Augustine sunset. From November through March, you might even see the protected North Atlantic right whales off the shoreline as they return to their birthing grounds each year.
Since Vilano Beach is always active with surfing and spectacular sunsets, it has some of the best oceanside dining in the area. Outdoor dining at small eateries and cafés extends beyond the main beachfront and into the Intracoastal Waterway, where you can choose views from the water or the sand dunes as the backdrop for your dinner ambience.
Where to Stay: Vilano Beach lodging ranges from campgrounds and RV parks to motels, beach home rentals, hotels, and lodges. The Hyatt Place St. Augustine /Vilano Beach is one of the newest full-service hotels in St. Augustine, with upscale dining and rooms close to the beach.
Address: 2750 Anahma Drive, St. Augustine, Florida
4. Matanzas Inlet Beach
The Matanzas Inlet Beach is located next to the Matanzas National Monument and is one of the best beaches in St. Augustine if you are looking for a mix of great waves for swimming, surfing, and surf fishing, and a great area for kayaking and paddleboarding.
The sand on Matanzas Inlet beach is made of crushed coquina shells and it's a popular beach for other shell varieties that wash ashore.
This is a good family beach for its wide, sandy footprint and variety of water. You can enjoy the waves in one section of beach and a lagoon of calm water in another. Part of the beach stretches over a sandbar, creating more stagnant water in shallower pools. Water sports are popular in this area, and rentals are available nearby for kayaks.
Given its popularity, if you plan to spend the day at Matanzas Inlet Beach, it is best to get there early to set up a spot. The shoreline at the beach is never the same from year to year given its exposure to the winds and surf as tropical storms blow in and shift the sandbars.
Where to Stay: A nice resort about three miles south of the inlet is Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa which also has beach access, a spa, golf course, and water park.
Address: 8635 A1A S, St. Augustine, Florida
5. Butler Beach
The attraction of Butler Beach goes beyond just its beautiful scenery and picture-perfect sands. The beach has both historical and ecologically important storylines behind it. The beach is popular with locals and visitors and is located between St. Augustine and the Crescent Beach.
Butler Beach is popular for swimming, horseback riding, and beachside leisure. Some people visit the beach just for the history surrounding its name. A local businessman named Frank Butler was an important African-American figure in St. Augustine's civil rights movement in the 1960s. Butler fought against the injustice of the local whites-only beaches and purchased enough property on Anastasia Island to eventually open a small stretch of beach for African-Americans.
Other visitors come to Butler Beach for the protected ecosystem that can be observed at the Frank Butler County Park at nearby Anastasia Island. The island sits between St. Augustine and Butler Beach and protects a delicate dune ecosystem and animals like the gopher tortoise and the Anastasia Island beach mouse that inhabit the area.
Butler Park East is a beachside park with picnic pavilions, public restrooms, parking, and a boardwalk for beach access. Butler Park West is a park space on the Intracoastal side, with parking, restrooms, boat ramps, and a playground.
Dogs are allowed on Butler Beach with a leash, and there are a number of beachside dining options within walking distance.
Where to Stay: Similar to other beach lodging in St. Augustine, there are several types of options near Butler Beach, from home rentals and condos to hotels. The Hibiscus Oceanfront Resort is a beachfront option on Butler Beach, or if you prefer to stay closer to Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Island Inn is a nice option, with walkable access to Anastasia Island and St. Augustine.
Address: 5860 A1A South, St. Augustine, Florida
6. Crescent Beach
The appeal of Crescent Beach is its wide-open space and pure white, soft sand. The name of Crescent Beach comes from its crescent-shaped shoreline, which runs along a four-mile stretch from the area south of St. Augustine to Matanzas Inlet.
It is located on the southernmost end of Florida's Historic Coast about 10 miles from St. Augustine, so it is a bit out of the way compared to other beaches, but that is part of its appeal. Crescent Beach has unspoiled natural beauty that calls to beachcombers.
This beach is popular for relaxing and soaking up the Atlantic Coast sunshine, but the inlet allows for other water recreation, like paddleboarding. You can book fishing trips and dolphin watching tours out of Crescent Beach and fit in a bit of history at the Fort Matanzas National Monument, located just south of the beach.
Crescent Beach is a friendly beach that is popular with the locals. It is a bit quieter than other beaches because it is located in a residential area versus a touristy location. The park in front of the beach is a perfect spot for a picnic lunch in a shaded gazebo. There is convenient parking and restrooms.
Vehicles are permitted on the beach with a permit during the spring and summer season. Crescent Beach is an authentic beach town with small local restaurants and open-air dining.
Where to Stay: For great views of Crescent Beach and easy access, Beacher's Lodge has condominium units with uniquely decorated suites and full kitchens.
Address: 6930 A1A South, St. Augustine, Florida
7. GTM Beach
GTM Beach has 4.7 miles of undeveloped beach located between North Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. GTM stands for the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is a 74,000-acre estuarine reserve.
The GTM Beach is one of the best ways to experience both the beautiful waters in St. Augustine and the protected natural environment that makes this area so rich in its diversity of plants and wildlife.
Beachcombing is one of the best activities at GTM Beach, where you can spend hours looking for sharks' teeth and shells like calico scallops, Atlantic moon snails, and lightning whelks.
Given the natural environment of this area, you are likely to stumble on unique finds washing up on shore. A great way to supplement your day at the beach is to research your finds and the nature in the area at the GTM Reserve visitor center. You can walk to the building on paths from the beach.
Where to Stay: There are several lodging options near the reserve, including the Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine -Vilano Beach, located close to both the GTM Beach and just a few miles from historic downtown St. Augustine.
Address: 505 Guana River Rd #6527, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
8. Anastasia State Park Beach
Anastasia State Park beach is a spectacular location to spend a day at the beach swimming and utilizing the other park activities. This pristine natural beach is four miles of sugar-granule sand surrounded by tall sand dunes. It's one of the most stunning in St. Augustine given the protected environment around it.
Besides relaxing by the ocean waves, you can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and biking on the park trails. An outfitter for rentals is located within the park.
You can time your visit to combine a beach outing with one of the concerts taking place at the outdoor amphitheater.
There is a protected wildlife area within the park, where you can look for tortoises; deer; and many bird species, including roseate spoonbills, tricolor herons, and wood storks. There is a day-use fee to use the park, but it gives you access to all the recreation, and amenities like restrooms and the concession area.
Where to Stay: The best lodging for the park is its spacious campground. There are 139 campsites that accommodate tents and RVs. Each campsite has privacy and is surrounded by lush greenery.
Address: 300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine, Florida
9. Matanzas National Park Beach
This small beach is located across the street from the Fort Matanzas National Monument. It is a nice option if you are visiting the monument park and want to include a visit to the beach during your day without spending additional time driving to another location.
While you can swim at this beach and relax to enjoy the views, there is no driving allowed on the sand because least terns nest in the protected area. The natural surroundings are managed by the National Park Service and are what make this section of beach so beautiful.
Take some time to enjoy the grounds at the Fort Matanzas National Monument park. Walk on the nature trails just off the visitor center parking lot, where you will experience the oldest section of the barrier island, surrounded by forest. You can also walk through the marsh area or extend your excursion with a ferry trip to the fort.
Where to Stay: There are some smaller hotels located close to the area, but La Fiesta Ocean Inn & Suites is a beachfront hotel with ocean-view rooms that is a short drive up the road.
Address: 8635 A1A South, St. Augustine, Florida
10. North Beach
St. Augustine's North Beach is an ideal family beach for swimming and spending a day on the sand. There are several beach access points, including a highway walkover at North Beach County Park. The park also has conveniences like public restrooms, showers, parking, grills, and a playground.
North Beach has some of St. Augustine's finest dining options, including Aunt Kate's, The Reef, and Cap's on the Water.
Where to Stay: There are many vacation home rentals near North Beach, but if you want to camp in St. Augustine, the North Beach Camp Resort has full amenities, dining, and an oceanside deck for those staying on the property.
Address: 3721 Coastal Highway, St. Augustine, Florida
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Fun Florida Beaches: If a beach vacation is what you are after, you will want to review our top beaches in Florida article and look at cities with popular beaches, like Miami or Key West. Where to go may depend on the time of year you are planning to visit Florida. Beaches in the north are best enjoyed during the warmer months, and some months are better than others when it comes to the high tourist season or hurricane season.