With over 1,600 acres of untouched and diverse ecosystems, Anastasia State Park will quickly have you feeling one with nature. The natural beauty can be seen along the miles of pristine beaches, leading to maritime hammocks and tidal marshes.
Anastasia State Park can be explored via nature trails, bike paths, and out on the water, each providing its own memorable experience. While the park helps to protect the landscapes, including ancient sand dunes, it remains very accessible through boardwalks and beach wheelchairs. The large but charming campground also provides the perfect escape from the city for nature lovers, families, and couples alike.
Not sure what to do? Read on for our complete Anastasia State Park guide.
What to see & do in Anastasia State Park
Hang out on the beaches
With four miles of beaches, Anastasia State Park is a great place for a day at the beach. Several beaches dot the area, such as Crescent Beach and St. Augustine Beach, but neither matches the park’s unspoiled nature. Plus, as it costs $8 per vehicle to enter the park, the crowds remain minimal.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, lifeguards stand watch over the white sand. This provides a welcoming sense of safety as you dive into the Atlantic Ocean. Make sure to stay in the designated swimming area on the beach and keep an eye on when these flags move as rip currents shift and appear.
From the sand, you can bathe under the warm Floridian sun or wander down the beach, collecting beautiful, intriguing shells along the way. The beach is backed by rising dunes which you can explore along the elevated boardwalks. This path is wheelchair accessible, and there are beach wheelchairs for further access to the sand.
Go for a hike or a bike ride
Anastasia State Park beach may be the perfect place the relax and waste a day, but you’ll be missing out on many adventures. Like any state park worth its salt, there are plenty of things to do that’ll help further your appreciation of the local landscape. The park covers 1,600 acres of diverse ecosystems which are best explored on foot or on a bike.
One of the top adventures in Anastasia State Park can be found on the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail. Although under a mile in length, the trail, beginning near the campground, takes you through a maritime hammock where southern magnolias bloom before meandering near ancient dunes and some of the most memorable sights in the park.
To explore further, make use of the bicycle rentals at Island Joe’s Camp Store. With so many miles of park roads, not to mention the beach to ride along all the way to the tidal salt marsh where shorebirds gather in great numbers, there’s plenty to see on two wheels.
Hit the waterways on a kayak
Anastasia State Park is known as much for its maritime ecosystems as for its dunes and forests. To explore the rest of the park, you’ll need to find your way out onto the water. The easiest way to do this is by renting a kayak through Anastasia Watersports.
Next to their base, you’ll find the kayak launch point. Enjoy paddling along the wonderful Salt Run through an estuarine tidal marsh. Along the way, you’ll uncover the rich marine life around the park, where beneath the surface, dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles roam.
Later in your paddle alongside the Marsh Trail, you’ll see birds like the wood stork, great blue heron, and roseate spoonbills bobbing along the surface. This is all complemented by gorgeous views from the water, with the calm Salt Flat glistening under the sun.
Go wildlife viewing
It’s one thing to walk or paddle around Anastasia State Park, but the protected lands are a haven for wildlife and form a section of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Those who explore with an intent to go wildlife viewing will have their patience richly rewarded.
We’ve mentioned some of the birds you may come across on your travels, but with the park’s position along a migratory route, the birding opportunities are rich and vast. As you look out on the Salt Run, you’ll spot a wide range of water birds like the tricolor heron with ospreys and the odd bald eagle hovering patiently above.
On dry land, you’ll find shorebirds such as laughing gulls and black skimmers. If you’re looking for wildlife outside of birdwatching, here you can also see adorable gopher turtles, crabs, and the Anastasia Island Beach Mouse – the crown jewel and hardest to spot.
Spend a night under the stars
A day of memorable adventures in nature is best rewarded by spending the night under the stars. The state park’s campgrounds are extensive and surrounded by beautiful hammock forest. You can stay in one of the 139 campsites that cover a variety of travel styles, from tents to caravans and RVs.
Regardless of the site you choose, you’ll have access to electricity and water along with a picnic table and ground grill for cooking up all of your favorite campsite eats.
After a long night of campfire stories, if you’re not up for eggs over the grill, head to Island Beach Shop and Grill for breakfast. You can also pick up camping supplies and beach equipment like surfboards and chairs before your day on the sand.
Families with kids in tow should also check out the Bedtime Story Camper Lending Library for the perfect bedtime read.
How to get there
Anastasia State Park is found at the northern end of Anastasia Island on Florida’s northeast coast near St. Augustine. For those already staying on the island, you can take the A1A north to the main park entrance.
For those traveling from further afield, Jacksonville is the closest major city to the state park. From Jacksonville, Anastasia State Park is under an hour’s drive, compared to two hours heading north from Orlando.
With the availability of campsites within the park, driving here in an RV is a popular thing to do. Fortunately, Interstate 95 will bring you within 15 minutes of Anastasia State Park before turning onto Highway 1 and the A1A.