Where is Anastasia State Park
- 300 Anastasia Park Rd, St. Augustine FL 32080
Anastasia US State Park is located in Northeastern Florida on Anastasia Island near the city of St Augustine. This beautiful state park is full of white sand beaches that are surrounded by the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The state park is only a 5-minute drive from St Augustine and functions as a great base to check out this historic city while also enjoying the park’s quiet beaches and secluded campsites.
Anastasia is also only around 31 miles from Jacksonville Beach and 100 miles from the Disney parks in Orlando.
How Big is Anastasia State Park
The park covers an area of more than 1,600 acres including beaches, marshes, sand dunes, and a lagoon. Anastasia Island is blessed with an abundance of natural wildlife and even contains part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Anastasia State Park Weather
Anastasia can be visited year-round, but the best time for swimming and beach weather is late spring when the temperatures are warm, and the rainy season hasn’t arrived yet.
Summer in northern Florida is warm with temperatures usually falling between 80°F and 90°F. While summer can be a great time to visit Anastasia, it is also the start of the hurricane season. Summer visitors will need to keep an eye on the weather and watch any developing tropical storms.
Florida’s hurricane season extends through autumn ending on November 30th. Autumn temperatures are usually quite comfortable, but it is always important to stay on top of any serious storms and listen to park officials with regards to weather warnings and evacuations.
Winter is a great time to visit the park for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Temperatures in the winter are usually around 60°F with lows of 46°F. Expect the coldest seawater in February when sea temperatures average at a cool 64°F.
Spring in Anastasia State Park is very agreeable with sunny days and warm temperatures around 70°F. The ocean can be a little chilly at this time, so bring a wetsuit if you plan on surfing.
When did Anastasia Become a State Park
Anastasia Island became a state park in 1949 after the state government purchased the land from the Army Corps of Engineers. The nearby city of St Augustine has a long history and was founded by the Spanish Conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles around 450 years ago. The area was originally settled by the Spanish who built the city’s fort and old buildings with stone from the quarries on Anastasia Island.
In the early 1940s, the US Army created a new inlet to link Matanzas Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. The peninsula that was separated from Anastasia was known as Conch Island. Over the years, Anastasia Island has grown in size due to currents that carry and deposit sand from the nearby Jacksonville Beach.
In 1964, Hurricane Dora also dumped a large amount of sand on the island which ended up once more linking Conch Island and Anastasia Island together creating what we know today as Anastasia State Park.
Things to do in Anastasia State Park
Anastasia is one of the most popular state parks in Florida because of its great beaches and variety of interesting things to do. The park has great campsites that are secluded but near the beach, a nature trail, a lagoon for fishing and windsurfing, access to the waves of the Atlantic, long beaches, and a variety of interesting wildlife. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines below some of the fun activities Anastasia State Park Has to offer.
One of the best things to do in Anastasia State Park is camp. This park has 139 different campsites that are all only a short walk from the beach. All campsites come with a picnic table, grill, and fire ring. In total, there are 6 different camping areas. St Augustine Beach KOA, the Sand Dollar Loop, the Shark Eye Loop, and the Coquina Loop can accommodate RVs while the other two are tent-only.
All of the campsites are within walking distance of the nature trail and beach and make for a great basecamp to explore the island and St Augustine.
Ancient Dunes Nature Trail and other Hikes
There is one official trail inside the park and that is the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail. The trailhead can be found near the campground. This hike takes visitors along a path shaded by oak trees and ends in a scramble up the ancient sand dunes.
Other possible hikes in the park include the walk to the Old Spanish Quarry. If you are looking for a longer adventure, you can also try out the 7.3-mile Cape Francis Beach Walk.
Sign up for a ranger-lead hike to explore with a guide and learn more about the local wildlife.
Paddling and Boating
The Salt Run is a marshy lagoon that is full of wildlife and is a great spot for floating and boating. Only motorless boats are allowed and some popular options include kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and sailboats. Some days, you’ll also see windsurfers!
The waters here are serene making it a great place to paddle without having to worry about ocean currents. Make sure to watch out for manatees and other wildlife while out on the water!
Anastasia State Park is an excellent spot for wildlife lovers and birdwatchers. The Salt Run is the best place to spot wading birds including roseate spoonbills. The hammock forests are home to painted buntings and warblers and it is common to see ospreys and eagles in the sky. In total, there are 195 identified bird species in the park.
If you are new to birdwatching, consider signing up for the monthly guided bird walk where a ranger will take you to the best birdwatching spots in the park and help you identify them.
Beach Walks and Shelling
Anastasia Island is blessed with 4 miles of wide sandy beaches. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the beach is to take a walk and explore the shore. On the way, make sure to look for interesting shells. Low tide is the best time to go shelling and some popular finds include clam, scallop, oyster, and olive shells.
This state park is a great destination for fishermen of all levels. The Salt Run is perfect for fun and easy fishing and even has a nearby identification stand and cleaning station. There are plenty of interesting species of fish that live in the calm waters of the lagoon. If you want more of a challenge, try your hand at fishing in the Atlantic!
Swim and Surf
A plunge into the cool Atlantic on a hot spring or summer day is sometimes just what you need. The best time to swim is from Memorial Day to Labor Day when the ocean is warm and there are lifeguards on duty. The designated swimming area is conveniently located near the Island Beach Shop and Grill.
For surfers, Anastasia Island offers some of the best waves in the area. The park even allows surfing in the winter months.
Visit the Coquina Quarry
The quarry is located near the park entrance and is a historically important archaeological site that was used in the 1500s. The blocks of coquina limestone found at the quarry were mined using slave labor under Spanish direction and were used to build one of the first European settlements in the United States.
Have a Picnic
What’s better than a picnic on the beach? If you are looking for a relaxing meal with a beautiful view, then Anastasia Island is your spot.
The park offers three different picnic grounds including the Hilltop Picnic Area, the Watersports Picnic Pavilion, and the Sea Turtle Picnic Pavilion. The Hilltop Picnic Area has 10 covered picnic tables that are first-come-first serve. The Watersports and Sea Turtle Picnic Pavilions can both be reserved for $100 per day.
When to go to Anastasia State Park
Anastasia Island can be visited at any time of year, but the best time to go for a beach and swimming day is from April to May. At this time, the temperatures are warm, and the skies are clear and sunny.
During summer and autumn, the weather can be unpredictable as the Florida hurricane season lasts from June to the end of November.
Winter is a popular time to visit the park for beach walking, birdwatching, hiking, fishing, and camping. At this time, the weather is cool and comfortable although temperatures can drop to around 46°F in February.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Anastasia
When visiting Anastasia Island, you should always make sure to pack all the necessary gear and supplies for your stay. Below we have listed some of our top recommendations of what to bring for your stay.
The Florida sun and salty ocean can quickly dehydrate you if you’re not careful. List of Parks advises to always make sure to bring enough water with you whether you plan to spend the whole day lounging on the beach or swimming and hiking. If you run out of water, you can always buy more at the onsite beach shop, but it’s always good to come prepared.
You can grab a quick meal at the Island Beach Shop and Grill inside the park, but if you want to save money or have some snacks between meals, make sure to pack your own food.
Park Map in Physical and on Phone
Digital maps of the park can be found on the Florida State Parks website and physical maps are available at the Island Beach Shop or ranger station.
If you plan on hiking the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail, you’ll need proper shoes! We recommend close-toed sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. You can also wear walking sandals but be prepared for your shoes to get full of sand.
Swimming Gear for Cold Water
If you want to swim or surf in the Atlantic any time from November to March, you’ll need cold-weather swimming gear to stay comfortable in the chilly water. A wetsuit is recommended for all watersports from autumn to early spring.
Sunglasses, Sunscreen, and Warm Weather Attire
Spring and summer weather require plenty of sun protection. Make sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and clothes made from moisture-wicking materials.
For wildlife lovers, binoculars are a definite must-have.
During hurricane season, staying up to date on current weather trends is a must in order to stay safe and have a great trip.
While the wind from the ocean gets rid of most bugs, you’ll still find mosquitos near the Salt Run and campgrounds. Bring insect repellent to ward off any annoying bugs.
Where to Stay in Anastasia State Park
If you don’t want to camp inside the state park, there are plenty of great options for places to stay in nearby St Augustine. The St Augustine Inn is the closest hotel at only 1.1 miles away. This is a simple and sweet option that comes with an outdoor swimming pool and is close to the beach.
St Augustine also has a La Quinta Inn and Embassy Suites that are located only 1.5 miles from Anastasia Island. There are also quite a few upscale hotels and resorts in the city if you are looking for a more luxurious experience.
Food Near Anastasia
The Island Beach Shop and Grill is a great place to get a bite to eat inside the park. There are also plenty of restaurants and grocery stores in nearby St Augustine. Near Anastasia Island, you can find both a Fresh Market and Publix which are perfect for stocking up on supplies.
The Salt Life Food Shack and Sunset Grille are great spots for classic American dishes and seafood. For some great authentic Italian, head to Casa Benedetto’s Ristorante. Another local favorite is the Collage Restaurant which offers fair prices for an excellent dining experience.
Airports Near Anastasia State Park
The closest airport to Anastasia State Park is the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). This airport is around 42 miles from the island or a 1-hour drive.