St. Augustine Beach Attractions Guide
Download and Print Walking Guide | Approximately 14 miles long and 1 mile wide, Anastasia Island is separated from St. Augustine by Matanzas River, part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It is believed to have been visited by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. Anastasia Island served as the location for the St. Augustine settlement in 1566 when colonists moved offshore for protection during a revolt by the native Timucan people. It is also the home of several significant historic sites.
The first watchtower on the island was a wooden structure. English privateer Sir Francis Drake used it as a guide for an attack on the city in 1586. Over the years, the watchtower was rebuilt using the naturally available coquina and later converted to a lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse in Florida. The original lighthouse succumbed to beach erosion and was replaced by the current structure in 1874. The site also includes the keeper’s quarters built in 1876 and a small museum. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Another national historic place on the island is the Fort Matanzas National Monument operated by the National Park Service. Visitors can explore the ramparts of this Spanish bastion built in 1742 to defend the mouth of the Matanzas River.
Anastasia Island is also home to a 1,600-acre state park. The park’s beach, tidal salt marsh and upland hammock ecosystem supports a wide variety of wild animal and plant species. In addition to nature trails, park visitors can camp, picnic, swim and sunbathe as well as surf, kayak and fish. The park occupies the site where the coquina was quarried for the construction of St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos. The park, national monument and other sites on Anastasia Island can be readily explored on foot.
St. Augustine Beach Points of Interest Include: