St. Augustine boasts miles of white dusty beaches parallel to the Atlantic Ocean and more than five waterways rich in marine life and North Florida vegetation – allowing there to be plenty of sightseeing and space for boats, charters, and kayaks. Paddle your way through the lagoon by Anastasia State Park when you rent a single or double kayak; set to the sea with Captain Chuck to discover places and tricks that only the locals know; or, if you’re looking for an offbeat adventure, call our good friends at Bluewater Catamaran for a unique experience on the other side of St. Augustine’s seawall.
Fishing Charter Boat Tours
Some of Florida’s best fishing can be found in the waterways and ocean that borders the Historic Coast. Head to the Conch House Marina to kickstart a day of deep-sea fishing where you are likely to catch blackfin tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, kingfish, and even sailfish. Stay inshore and look forward to catching flounder, black drum, cobia, redfish, sheepshead, tripletail, and spotted seatrout. Many of the charters provide fishing tackle, bait, ice, and will even clean your fish for you! Just be sure to check ahead before you book.
Scroll to the bottom of our Sports and Recreation Page to book a trip with some of our favorite fishing charters in the area!
Eco and Scenic Water Tours
Among things to do in St. Augustine are eco-tours. This is one of the best ways to explore North Florida’s vegetation and wildlife. Children, families, couples, and friend groups can spend the day focusing on environmental education, wildlife and habitat protection, and conservation. Pick your choice of a kayak, scuba diving lessons, a catamaran, or airboat and learn all about St. Augustine’s estuary, flora, fauna, and history! Eco-tours are the best way to get up close and personal with pods of dolphins and exotic birds!
St. Augustine Eco Tours is a great pick for a true ecology-based experience. They fuse fun and insight together by frequently conducting research which they incorporate into their tours. Much of the crew are active environmental leaders in the community with a passion for environmental education, conservation, and wildlife and habitat protection. Join them on a sailboat and you might just see dolphins, flamingos, green herons, blue herons, snowy egrets, hooded merganser, sargassum fish and many other unique creatures. To get up close and personal with St. Augustine’s wildlife, we suggest you hit the water with them on a kayak.
Head out on your own…
Boat tours in St. Augustine can be led by an expert licensed guide, or by you (bearing you have the appropriate credentials). If you’re interested in being the guide of your own eco boat tour, scenic tour or fishing charter, you can always rent a boat from the following businesses: Bay Ray Boat Rentals, St. Augustine Boat Rentals, Anastasia Water Tours, SailTime Northeast Florida
St. Augustine Waterways
There are several areas in St. Augustine that are perfect for fishing, sightseeing, ecology, or getting a photo of a dolphin pod. Check out the list below, to decide which waterways have the right characteristics for your day of exploring!
Location: Adjacent to Ponte Vedra Beach, at 6527, 505 Guana River Rd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
About: Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) is 74,000 acres of coastal ocean and forest lands. The wildlife reserve is home to a plethora of unique plants, animals, and estuary life. It is a local and visitor favorite because of the many activities you can do there; you can hike trails as short as one mile or as long as 12 miles; fish in the designated areas; picnic in the common area; explore Guana dam.
Exploring Guana Dam can be done in many ways. North Guana Outpost South, a locally owned outfitter and rental store, has a concession stand located just past the entrance of GTM. The hut was recently placed there to meet the demand for kayak rentals, stand up paddleboard rentals, and retail items, that allow visitors to explore the dam without a tour guide! However, the GTM also hosts a series of activities, eco tours, and hikes that are led by experts of the reserve.
Location: The river starts over the seawall of Historic Downtown and continues many miles south a little past Flagler Beach.
About: Matanzas River is a local and visitor favorite; you can often spot sailboats, charters, kayaks, canoes, and catamarans bobbing along from St. Augustine’s Bayfront. What beckons so many enthusiasts to explore the river is its diverse ecosystem, it’s large size that leaves it uncrowded, and prime location! When you take to Matanzas, you’ll likely spot dolphin pods, exotic birds, and maybe even a manatee if the temperature of the water is just right.
Location: Just south of St. Augustine, access Pellicer Creek through nearby, Faver Dykes State Park.
About: Pellicer Creek runs for nearly four miles between Faver Dykes State Park and Princess Place Preserve. Many people enjoy the creek because it borders an undisturbed salt marsh which is one of the most pristine estuarine systems on the East Coast of Florida. In fact, it is home to more than 100 different species of birds. The creek has a launch specifically for kayaks and canoes; canoes available for rent at $5 an hour or $25 for five hours or more.
About: Salt Run’s unique location distinguishes it from other waterways in St. Augustine. Settled on the north side of Anastasia Island, Salt Run is sheltered by land on either side which allows for smooth glass-like water conditions. Furthermore, you are sure to see the same type of wildlife here that can be found in the Matanzas River. Since Salt Run and Matanzas intertwine, local dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, fish, crabs, and marsh birds often escape the sometimes choppy waters of Matanzas to bask in the warm estuarine tidal marsh of Salt Run. You can rent a kayak or canoe at Anastasia Water Sport’s concession or head out during one of Anastasia State Park’s scenic tours.
San Sebastian River
Location: San Sebastian River starts at the intersection of Lewis Speedway and San Sebastian View and runs parallel to US 1 until it hits the 312 bridge, where the river intersects with Matanzas River. To gain access to San Sebastian River, launch your boat at this boat ramp; dock your boat at Intercoastal Marina; head out on a charter with Sea Love Charters; or explore on a catamaran with Bluewater Adventure.
About: Like Salt Run, San Sebastian River is sheltered from the wind by land on either side of the river allowing for smooth conditions and a fun day on a fishing charter, scenic water tour, or eco tour. However, the sharp turns and windy nature of the river can be tricky for an inexperienced sailor. If you are new to sailing, we suggest you hit the river with an experienced and licensed captain. San Sebastian River is a great place to go if you enjoy fishing, bird watching, or just sailing!
Location: Tolomato River runs parallel to the Guana Dam and is on the west side of the GTM Research Reserve. You can access Tolomato River by hiking the GTM Research Reserve; launching your canoe or kayak and traveling there by water; the boat ramp at Deep Creek State Forest.
About: Tolomato River, known by the locals as North River, is a local and visitor favorite for fishing and sightseeing. The preserved waters are home to a large concentration of healthy fish, shellfish, and oysters. Additionally, the GTM Research Reserve’s coastline isn’t too shabby of a backdrop for a day on the water.
Don’t forget to wear the proper gear!
Whether you’re fishing from a shaded bench on the St. Augustine Pier or from the Atlantic Ocean, it is important that you protect yourself from the sun which can cause heat exhaustion and dehydration. Some ways you can protect yourself from the Sunshine State’s best asset, the sun, is by wearing UV safe clothing, eye protection, a brimmed hat, and sunscreen. Additionally, remember to bring along plenty of water and a few healthy snacks to keep your energy high!
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