Unless you’re allergic to water — is there such a thing? — one reason you may be planning a move to Florida is so you can dwell near an ocean.
Or, a cool, calming river, lake or creek within view of your backyard. And there are few places to better enjoy Florida’s watery riches than the metro Jacksonville area, where the St. Johns River flows through its downtown, and the Atlantic Ocean is only a few miles east.
But you don’t have to live in Jacksonville proper to find the water. opens in a new windowNocatee, the master-planned community south of “JAX” that’s one of the nation’s top-10 selling developments, is located only 20 miles north of another watery Florida jewel — historic St. Augustine.
We at ICI Homes are one of Nocatee’s preferred builders and big fans of the Ancient City. Allow us to suggest some cool ways to get on the water in St. Augustine.
A pirate ship
Seriously! Take a trip on the Black Raven, a replica pirate ship docked at St. Augustine Municipal Marina. It’s across from the historic district, before you cross the Bridge of Lions (more on that shortly) to Anastasia Island and St. Augustine Beach.
Expect fun kids activities, awesome scenery and fun moments. The Black Raven crew offers different “adventures,” such as re-enacting a pirate battle. You also can enjoy a birthday adventure and adults-only cruises.
The ferry to Fort Matanzas
Have you seen the 17th-century Castillo de San Marcos in downtown St. Augustine? Don’t miss its sister installation, the early 18th-century Fort Matanzas National Monument, approximately 14 miles south on A1A, Florida’s east-coast highway.
For Matanzas is much smaller than the Castillo, but no less compelling. It’s located on a island you can’t reach by car, so you must ride the National Park Service ferry to access it.
Start at the monument’s visitor center off AIA, just north of Matanzas Inlet.
A stark part of St. Augustine’s earliest history happened here, but skimming across the gleaming Matanzas River on the NPS ferry, toward resilient Fort Matanzas, is a good way to learn and enjoy being on the water.
Everything from sightseeing cruises, sunset cruises, dinner cruises — pick your preference.
Start with the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, beside the Bridge of Lions, and check other local marinas.
Of course, charter boats and all sorts of specialty fishing expeditions are available out of St. Augustine. Again, consult your marina of choice or ask for recommendations.
Not crazy about sharing St. Augustine waters with 50 other people? We get it.
Those of you who like paddle on your own will find plenty of quality outfitters and tour guides. It’s a great family activity, especially if small groups are more your thing.
Kayaking tours come in all varieties here— from beginners to day-long sessions — and put in at many beautiful and historic spots around St. Augustine.
Climb the Bridge of Lions
You can’t miss it. It’s the only bridge from St. Augustine to its southern barrier islands and dates to 1925.
Two immense marble lions guard the bridge’s western entrance, thus its name. The Bridge is an easy, scenic hike across the Matanzas River. It’s also a working drawbridge, so don’t get stuck. If you’re crossing it at sunset, watch for a gorgeous one behind Ancient City, looking west.
Ready to live your Jacksonville-area lifestyle? opens in a new windowTalk to ICI Homes here.