|One of the best things about the beaches of the First Coast is their diversity.
Most residents and visitors are familiar with the flat white sandy beaches which
are typically associated with Florida, such as Jacksonville Beach, Anastasia,
and Daytona Beach, but did you know there are also beaches backed by sea oat-
covered dunes and salt marshes, fringed with coquina shells, or strewn with
sharks' teeth? Whether you prefer basking on a resort-perfect beach or taking
a walk on the wild side, the beaches of the First Coast have it all!
Beaches listed from North to South
Fort Clinch State Park
Located north of the city of Fernandina Beach, off State Road A1A.
2601 Atlantic Avenue
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Sunbathing, swimming, beachcombing for shells and sharks' teeth, and fishing are popular
activities at this beach. Anglers can fish from the half-mile pier or the nearby jetties, or surf fish
straight from the shore. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy a six-mile self-guided nature trail. The park
also offers a full-facility campground and a youth camping area. There are also showers,
restrooms, and a picnic area.
Beaches of Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach
Made up of 13 miles of seashore lined with sea oat strewn dunes, Amelia Island is a beach lover’s
haven. The beaches here are popular for shelling and hunting for sharks’ teeth. The Main Beach,
the largest public park on the island, is located at Trout Street and has showers and restrooms.
Seaside Park has showers. There are also 21 beach access points from A1A between Main Beach
and the south end of town - with a handful of free parking spaces and a boardwalk over the dunes
to the beach. Nearby is the Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach where you can enjoy the fishing
village atmosphere, along with fun shopping and great places to eat.
Going South on Highway A1A, about five miles south of Fernandina Beach, look for the sign for
American Beach. This beach is a historic and cultural landmark of Florida's Black Heritage Trail.
Abraham Lincoln Lewis, co-founder and president of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company,
founded American Beach in 1920 when there were few beaches in the area blacks could enjoy. By
the 1940s and 1950s, blacks were coming from across the country to vacation at American Beach.
Although condominiums rise nearby, American beach has retained its undeveloped pristine
atmosphere, and visitors today still enjoy this peaceful white sandy beach backed by sea oat
Amelia Island State Park
Amelia Island State Park is located 8 miles south of Fernandina Beach (or 7 miles north of Little
Talbot Island State Park) on Highway A1A. (Phone: 904-251-2320) The entrance to this beach is at
Nassau Sound just where it connects with the Atlantic Ocean. The narrow sloping beach lines the
north side of the channel and then spreads out and wraps around the point at the channel's mouth,
and is a beautiful, unspoiled beach. However, it is NOT a beach for swimming. Fishing is one of
the top activities and anglers find the secluded beach a perfect place for surf fishing. You can drive
on the beach but 4WD is needed - and keep an eye on the incoming tide! Just adjacent to the west
side of the park, the old bridge has been kept as a fishing bridge (George Crady Bridge Fishing
Pier State Park). Bait, light tackle, and snacks are available at the nearby Nassau Bait & Tackle
(904- 277-9772), along with restroom facilities. Visitors can also stroll along the beach, look for
seashells, or watch the wildlife. No swimming - there are strong currents here. This park is one of
the few locations on the East Coast that offers horseback riding on the beach, a 45-minute riding
tour along the shoreline. For horseback tour reservations, contact the Kelly Seahorse Ranch,
(904) 491-5166. Tours are given four times daily. Park Admission Fees - $1.00/person entrance
Big Talbot Island State Park
A few miles south of Amelia Island State Park, keep a sharp eye out for the entrance to this unique
beach. You can easily believe that you aren't in Florida or perhaps not even in the 21st Century as
you explore this primitive, one-of-a-kind beach with cliffs, black rock-like outcroppings, and fallen
trees that have become bleached and weathered with time. The picnic area (with grills) has a bluff
overlook view of Nassau Sound. This is not a deep, swimming beach, but you can wade into the
water to cool off. You can enjoy other activities like hiking the nature trails, fishing, canoeing and
Little Talbot Island State Park
The road south crossing over the salt marshes laced with navigable channels is the only indication
that you have left Big Talbot Island and are now on Little Talbot Island. Located at the south end of
this island, which is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida, is
Little Talbot Island State Park. The park has more than 5 miles of beautiful, wide sandy beaches,
undisturbed salt marshes, and vegetated dunes. A hiking trail takes you through a maritime forest
where you are buffered from the sight and sound of the sea....until you emerge onto a beautiful
white sandy beach. Desert-like dunes and salt marshes on the western side of the island are
great for nature study and relaxation, while the Atlantic Ocean provides excellent wave conditions
year-round for those who want to "catch a wave". All-in-all, a great place for family gatherings,
biking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming, and surfing. The beach is easily accessible with
plenty of parking, dune walkovers, bathhouses, and camp sites.
Huguenot Memorial Park
10980 Heckscher Drive
Just south of Little Talbot Island State Park - located on Fort George Island just over the St. Johns
River from Mayport.
This 449-acre Jacksonville park is bordered by ocean, inlet, and river, and each shoreline offers its
own type of beach. On the ocean side, there are a couple of miles of beach that dramatically
increases at low tide - and just as dramatically disappears when the tide comes in, so please
exercise caution. However, the changing of the tides is definitely interesting as you watch the sand
bars appear or disappear under beautiful blue-green water whipped up into white-capped waves.
The river side is for camping and fishing, and you are likely to see ships or barges traveling by,
while the area along the inlet is calm and shallow and therefore popular with families with children.
Driving is permitted on the beach, except for a no vehicles zone about 500 feet long. Waterfront
campsites, a bird observation area, and amazing views of some of North Florida's remaining
natural areas await you. The park also features a boat launch area, picnic shelters, restrooms and
showers, and a concession stand. The park seems to be a popular spot for wind surfing and is
also designated a Great Florida Birding Trail site.
Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beaches
Situated on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway,
the adjoining towns of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach offer 1-1/2 miles of white sand beaches
perfect for walking, swimming, surfing, or just relaxing. Beach accesses are located at the eastern
street ends - 38 access points in all. There are showers at some access points. Parking is free,
although it is fairly limited. A large pay parking lot is available in Atlantic Beach for those unable to
find spaces by the beach accesses.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
500 Wonderwood Road
This 450-acre park lies south of historic Mayport and features 1-½ miles of sandy beach. Swim,
sail, fish or surf on the Atlantic Ocean side or head for the park's 60-acre freshwater lake for some
kayaking and canoeing (rentals are available). There are lakeside picnic tables and grills, and
nature trails wind around the lake and through the park. There is a quarter-acre water playground
with colorful fountains that will delight your children. The park also has a full service campground,
along with showers, restrooms and concession stands.
Extending 60 blocks along First Avenue, the shoreline at Jacksonville Beach is one of the First
Coast's busiest. The beach is wide, hard-packed and blindingly white, with a gentle slope down to
the sea. The city provides access points at the eastern end of 64 streets, with free parking slots.
Additional parking is available a block west of the access points. For those looking for great fishing
or a leisurely stroll, the newly rebuilt Jacksonville Pier is a local favorite. Offshore boat races,
beach volleyball, fishing, surfing and sunbathing are just a few of the treats that await you. The
Sea Walk Pavilion , located ocean front at the intersection of 1st Street North and 1st Avenue, is
host to many concerts and events.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Just south of Jacksonville Beach, the beaches make yet another change. In addition to white
sand, a band of coquina is deposited on the beaches of Ponte Vedra. This band of coquina is a
never-fail spot to find sharks' teeth. As you travel south on Highway A1A, five beachfront parks offer
access to Ponte Vedra's stunning beaches. High dunes and private estates hide the ocean from
view, but it's worth finding one of the access points. Mickler's Landing at the north end provides
access to a lovely beach with flat, hard-packed sand backed by healthy dunes. One mile south,
Guana River State Park affords plenty of beach access along its five miles of pristine oceanfront.
The park is also a great place for wildlife study, and nature programs are offered year round. In
South Ponte Vedra, three accesses allow entrée onto the same undisturbed coastline. Running
from north to south are Gate Station Beach, South Ponte Vedra Recreation Area, and Usina Beach.
To complement its ocean access, Usina Beach features shaded picnic areas, fire rings, and
Vilano Beach is located just north of the St. Augustine Inlet.
Anastasia State Park
1340-A A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
Camping, beachcombing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, windsurfing, hiking, wildlife-viewing, and
boating are popular activities. Nature trails meander through the ancient dunes shaded by
From I-95 take exit 311 (old 94). Go east on State Road 207. Turn right on State Road 312. Turn left
on A1A. Travel approx. 1.5 miles north to main park entrance. (Turn right after The Surf Station.)
From US-1 turn east onto State Road 312. Turn north (left) on A1A. Travel approx 1.5 miles north to
main park entrance. (Turn right after The Surf Station.)
Continuing south on A1A, the road parallels the shoreline. Look for small areas to park, especially
near stairs for easier access to the beach. Ormond Beach is one of the beaches along this
relatively deserted stretch of shoreline. At least until you reach Daytona Beach, one of the world's
most famous beaches. Check out the Daytona Beach Web Cam .