Beaches, bays and rivers, there are plenty of waterways to explore in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra. The Nation’s Oldest City is not only surrounded by water, but the beautiful Intercoastal waterway runs through the very center this picturesque area.
When it comes to Florida’s Historic Coast, there are seemingly endless choices to enjoy the water. One of the most popular for those visiting St. Augustine is one of several cruises on Matanzas Bay, which flows through the heart of the historic skyline.
The Sunset Cruise offered by Florida Water Tours has geared toward the adult crowd and the pontoon vessel departs from 107 Yacht Club Drive before motoring through the nautical vistas of areas such as the Castillo de San Marcos and other attractions that can easily be seen from the water.
The Pirate Ship Black Raven offers a similar experience in terms of the view of St. Augustine and departs from the St. Augustine Marina at 111 Avenida Menendez. The Black Raven is really open to the full family experience and not only offers the cool views of the city but also is a living museum where kids and adults can learn about the pirate culture, which was influential in this area a few centuries ago.
There are many other cruise offerings in St. Augustine, all which involve a fee. But getting away from the historic downtown, the nautical offerings can get even more adventurous.
The Sea Serpent takes visitors into old-school Florida moving up the St. Johns River. High-speed air boats depart from the Trout Creek Marina and skim across the water with passengers close to the wild environment and critters dwelling in the sawgrass and among the inland wetlands.
There are more wildlife, wine and scenic tours on boats offered in St. Augustine. But one of the main attractions to St. Augustine outside of its historical allure is the beaches. From Ponte Vedra Beach south through the Matanzas Inlet, Florida’s Historic Coast offers some of the most relaxing seaside experiences in Florida.
Ponte Vedra Beach has some public beaches, but many are associated with resorts and hotels. But just south, the Guana River Wildlife Management Area plays host to truly pristine beaches. Access is provided for parking in three parking lots off Florida State Road A1A. These beaches with entry to Atlantic Ocean waters are surrounded by dunes and in some parts, no buildings can be seen for miles.
In Vilano Beach, just north and east of St. Augustine, visitors find an oceanside community that is welcoming and far from overcrowded.
Then, of course, there’s St. Augustine Beach, probably the most popular oceanfront beach community complete with hotels, bars and restaurants literally next to the water. There’s plenty of open and free beach access in St. Augustine Beach that gets you to the water quick.
Further south, the Matanzas Inlet Park gets visitors onto the ocean but also includes vistas involving the inlet itself for beach bathing or fishing. Also keep in mind this stretch of Florida coast also offers some solid surfing opportunities and there are plenty of shops with rentals for beach gear.
While cruises and beach access get to some of the best offerings for watery enjoyment in the St. Augustine area, there are plenty of boat ramps for visitors traveling with their vessels. From Palm Valley just west of Ponte Vedra Beach to boat ramps in the Guana preserve to the St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Johns County offers about a dozen free public boat ramps for visitors bringing their own vessels.
If traveling with your boat is too much, you can rent boats and personal watercraft in the St. Augustine area.
So, when it comes to fun on the water, the St. Augustine area has plenty of adventures for the nautically inclined. Many of the aquatic experiences are free. Some require a fee. But all will deliver a unique experience when it comes to enjoying the watery experiences of the Nation’s Oldest City.