There are several places to find sand and sea: Vilano Beach, on the north side of St. Augustine Inlet; and St. Augustine Beach, on the south side (the inlet dumps the Matanzas and North rivers into the Atlantic). Be aware, however, that erosion has almost swallowed the beach from the inlet as far south as Old Beach Road in St. Augustine Beach. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reclaiming the sand, but in the meantime, hotels and homes here have rock seawalls instead of sand bordering the sea.
Erosion has made a less noticeable impact on beautiful Anastasia State Park, on Anastasia Boulevard (Fla. A1A) across the Bridge of Lions and just past the Alligator Farm, where the 4 miles of beach (on which you can drive and park) are still backed by picturesque dunes. On its riverside, the area faces a lagoon flanked by tidal marshes. Amenities and activities include shaded picnic areas with grills, restrooms, windsurfing, sailing and canoeing (on a saltwater lagoon), a nature trail, and saltwater fishing (for bluefish, pompano, sea trout, redfish, and flounder; a license is required for out-of-state residents). In summer, you can rent chairs, beach umbrellas, and surfboards. There's good bird-watching here, too, especially in spring and fall; pick up a brochure at the entrance. The 139 wooded campsites are in high demand year-round; they come complete with picnic tables, grills, and electricity. Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle, $1 per bicyclist or pedestrian. Campsites cost $23. For camping reservations, call tel. 800/326-3521 or go to www.reserveamerica.com. The day-use area is open daily from 8am to sunset. You can bring your pets. For information, contact Anastasia State Park, 1340A Fla. A1A S., St. Augustine, FL 32084 (tel. 904/461-2033; www.floridastateparks.org/anastasia).
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, all St. Augustine beaches charge a fee of $3 per car at official access points; the rest of the year, you can park free, but there are no lifeguards on duty or restroom facilities on the beach.
Jet skis and equipment for surfing and windsurfing can be rented at Surf Station, 1020 Anastasia Blvd. (Fla. A1A), a block south of the Alligator Farm (tel. 904/471-9463); and at Raging Water Sports, at the Conch House Marina Resort, 57 Comares Ave. (tel. 904/829-5001), off Anastasia Avenue (Fla. A1A) halfway between the Bridge of Lions and the Alligator Farm.
For a complete listing of what to see and do in St. Augustine, Florida, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.
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