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Anastasia State Park seduces with stunning beach, cozy campground

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Last updated on July 8th, 2024 at 01:09 pm

The campground at Anastasia State Park is among the best Florida has to offer: a back-to-nature experience with a high level of privacy afforded by dense vegetation around virtually every campsite I observed.

beach at Anastasia State Park
The beach at Anastasia State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

The beach stretches four miles along the Atlantic coast, wrapping around the northern point of Anastasia Island at the St. Augustine Inlet.

Broad and beautiful, you can ride your bicycle on hard sand below the tide line when the tide is out.

The park has a sheltered tidal lagoon behind the beach dunes where you can paddle your kayaks and canoes, and there’s a concession on the main park road (Anastasia Watersports) where you can rent a Hobie 16 catamaran sailboat in addition to kayaks, canoes and standup paddle boards.

I’m an old Hobie sailor and really liked that availability. You don’t often find Hobies in state parks. These boats are set up and ready to go, and the concession staff will give you lessons if you need them.

The lagoon is wide and long, offering plenty of room to play.

Anastasia State Park and St. Augustine history

anastasia state park castillo de san marcos from Anastasia State Park seduces with stunning beach, cozy campground
The Castillo de San Marcos was built with coquina rock mined at Anastasia State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

You cannot visit St. Augustine without tasting history in every corner, and Anastasia State Park is no exception.

At the entrance to the park, before you arrive at the park gate, a short nature trail goes back to a coquina quarry that served early Spanish settlers with blocks they needed to build homes and the fort that protects the harbor.

With hand tools, Indian and African slaves and prisoners from other European nations were put to work carving the soft shellstone out of the quarry for transport to the settlement across the river.

The Spaniards learned to waterproof the coquina blocks with water and plaster, strengthening their defenses against enemies and weather that tore into and destroyed early efforts to build structures from pinewood and palmetto forests inland.

From the 16th Century to the 19th Century, coquina mined on Anastasia Island continued to be a prized building material, and you’ll find many of those historic structures in St. Augustine still standing, including Castillo de San Marcos, the historic fort that is now a national monument.

The fort, as well as Historic St. Augustine, are a fun bike ride away, across the nearby Bridge of Lions. Just go north on A1A and cross the bridge.


The campground at Anastasia State Park

The campground at Anastasia State Park.
The campground at Anastasia State Park.

The campground’s 139 campsites break out into seven loops in a heavily wooded coastal forest, just steps away from the shimmering sand of a sprawling beach.

All of the camp sites accommodate RVs or tents and have connections for water and electricity, a picnic table, in-ground grill and fire ring. There are no sewer hookups, but there is a dump station as you leave the campground.

The campground has four full-service bathhouses, each serving two loops, with hot showers and laundry facilities.

The first thing I noticed was how tight most of the sites are for RVs – and how private they are. I checked several sites for privacy, and the low-growing vegetation was thick with scrub, creating a dense screen.

Even the deepest RV sites are narrow, leaving scant room to fully roll out an awning. On the other hand, the forest is so thick and shady, you don’t need an awning for shade.


typical campsite at anastasia state park
Typical campsite at Anastasia State Park.

There are a few sites that are wider than the norm, so look at the photos for each individual site on the reservations website before you book it.  The maximum RV length is 38 feet, but only five sites can take a rig that large.

The Coquina Loop is closest to the beach and appeared to be the most appealing for RVers.

Pets are allowed in all areas of the park, including the campground loops, but not in the restrooms or the beach.

The overnight rate is $28, plus a $7 daily utility fee and a non-refundable $6.70 booking fee. The rate includes water and electric. Florida residents 65+ receive a 50 percent discount on base campsite fee, but not the utility fee. You’ll have to prove it on arrival.

At Anastasia State Park, the concession area has Wi-Fi.
The park’s Island Beach Shop and Grill has Wi-Fi.

The park’s Island Beach Shop and Grill is fairly typical for a campground store with basic camping supplies, a few food stuffs, bait for fishing and souvenirs. A nice touch is the availability of Wi-Fi in a covered outdoor patio for campers, a nice touch not often available in state parks.

Beyond the basics, you’ll have to go outside the park. There is an Ace Hardware store and a Publix Supermarket south of the park entrance on State Road A1A. I find Ace Hardware stores to be reliable sources for camping gear.

For nearby eats, try Jack’s BBQ on Beach Boulevard (SR A1A) at A Street.  I enjoyed their tasty mojo pork hoagie, but this venerable beachside eatery is best known for its barbecue ribs.


Kayaking at Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park Water Sports.
Anastasia State Park kayak concession: Anastasia Water Sports.

The park’s concession, Anastasia Water Sports, offers rentals of kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards and sailboats for use on the park’s lagoon off the Intracoastal Waterway.

The lagoon is excellent for less-experienced boaters and would be fine for an afternoon on the water, but serious kayakers will want to venture out of the lagoon into the Intracoastal Waterway.

When I arrived at the park, a park ranger recommended the boat launch at Matanzas Inlet, south of Anastasia State Park on State Road A1A, or further south at the Marineland Marina.

Although I didn’t paddle that day, I did drive south on A1A to check it out and found some excellent launch areas and inviting inland waterways.

Terns at Anastasia State Park
Terns at Anastasia State Park

Both launches provide access to the expansive Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve with ample opportunities for exploring backcountry waterways and pristine marshes that transition from saltwater to freshwater. (For you anglers, that creates a prime environment for game fish.)

Pellicer Creek is also accessible from Faver Dykes State Park (U.S. 1 at I-95) or the 3900-acre Princess Place Preserve.

Map of Anastasia State Park
Map of Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park, 300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine, FL 32080. Ranger station: (904) 461-2033 (Rangers do not take campground reservations.) Campground rates: $28/night plus a $7 daily utility fee, tax and a non-refundable booking fee of $6.70. Discounts for Florida residents over 65 and holders of a disability certificates. Campground reservations online at reserve.floridastateparks.org up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents, 10 months in advance for non-residents, or by calling (800) 326-3521. Day-use fees: $8/vehicle, 2-8 people per vehicle. The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

Anastasia State Park FAQs

Are there full hookups for RVs? No. There are no sewer hookups, but there is a dump station as you leave the campground.

Can you swim at Anastasia State Park? There are four miles of beautiful beach. A swimming area is monitored by a lifeguard from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Editors note: A beach renourishment project was underway during the summer of 2024. The beach remains open in most areas.

Can you drive on the beach at Anastasia State Park? No. Beach driving was banned after an accident more than 20 years ago. You can ride your bike on the hard-packed beach, and bicycles are available for rent at the park concession.

Is surfing good at Anastasia State Park? Yes. Anastasia State Park has very good surfing and is one of the best breaks on the east coast of Florida. For the latest surf conditions, go to Surfline.


Things to do near Anastasia State Park

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