Jacksonville is world famous for its 22 miles of beautiful coastline and barrier islands. With more than 1,100 miles of water to navigate there is something to do for everyone in the family. From lounging on the beach to extreme water sports, here’s a guide to Jacksonville’s beaches, along with a few suggestions north and south of the area in case you have time to explore even more.
Visit Jacksonville Beach, Florida
The first beach on our list is Jacksonville Beach – the largest and arguably most famous of all the beaches we’re sharing today. It’s perfect for water sports fans as you can rent surfboards, SUPs, kayaks and more. If you love to surf, the pier is a hotspot for those with intermediate to advanced surfing skills. They even have beach gear like umbrellas and chairs that to rent for those who prefer to watch the fun from the safety of the sand.
Though damaged in Hurricane Matthew, the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier is making a comeback. Repairs are underway to the end, which collapsed into the ocean in 2016, but 625 feet of the pier are still open to visitors. It’s long been a popular spot to fish, and while you do not need a saltwater fishing license, it does cost $3 to fish or $1 to enter otherwise.
Things to Know Before You Go to JAX Beach
- There’s a mix of paid and free parking at the beaches, and during festivals and events, spots fill up very quickly. Be prepared to pay to park, but know that you might just get lucky and find a free space. More details on parking here.
- There are many dog friendly restaurants along Jacksonville Beach that makes this a popular spot for those with furry friends. However, from the hours of 9 am – 5pm, dogs are prohibited on the beach itself and must always be on a leash.
- There are public restrooms located at 2nd Ave. North and 5th Ave. North. Portable toilets are also located at 19th Ave. North.
- For any questions about Jacksonville Beach, Fl, check out the Beaches Visitor Center in the lobby of the Beaches Museum. 381 Beach Blvd.
Visit Atlantic Beach, Florida
Atlantic Beach is perfect if you’re looking for a hip beach town with happening bars, stylish boutiques and unique hotels. The Atlantic Beach Arts Market is the best vintage market around to enjoy a gallery of 90 plus vendors in a gigantic creative space. As for the beach itself, it is great for beginner surfers due to the awesome waves year round and plenty of practice space.
The most unique part about Atlantic Beach is the Beaches Town Center. Here you’ll find all things shopping, dining and nightlife. Try M Shack for a delicious burger and fries or the Flying Iguana for margaritas and tacos. Sliders Seafood Grille and Oyster bar has a variety of delicious seafood options and a patio to sit outside and take in the ocean breeze.
Things to Know Before You Go to Atlantic Beach
- The area has recent moved to a paid parking model, though you can happen upon free street parking, too. Paid spots are credit card only.
- There are limited public restrooms available, try the Beaches Town Center.
Visit Neptune Beach, Florida
At the end of Atlantic beach, you’ll run right into the smallest beach town in Jacksonville – Neptune Beach. This intersection is where you’ll find the Beaches Town Center, a place for dining, shopping and a very active nightlife (see above). Home to the oldest bar in Duval County, thousands gather on Thanksgiving at Pete’s to celebrate the holiday but if you’re not going in November, it’s still a cool place to check out for some drinks.
Neptune Beach is usually a bit quieter than Jacksonville or Atlantic Beach, except on major holidays. The golden sand makes this a great place to stroll along the beach at sunset.
Things to Know Before You Go to Neptune Beach
- Like Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach welcomes pets between the hours of 5 p.m. – 9 a.m. They must be kept on a leash. Check out pet friendly restaurants like Sliders Seafood Grille to grab a bite.
- Neptune Beach is largely residential, so parking lots are harder to come by. Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach usually have more spots.
- There are limited public restrooms available.
Visit Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
The historic village of Mayport is located the farthest north of all the Jacksonville beaches. Make sure to visit Mayport’s historic Fish Camps for the freshest seafood and legendary Mayport Shrimp. You can also find fishing charters and the Marine Science Education Center here.
Later, head to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, a city park with amazing access to the beach. There is a campground with campsites, full RV hookups and a dump station. There are even (slightly dated) bathrooms available if you are in a tent. The park is only half a mile to walk to the beach, too!
Hiking, canoeing and swimming are popular activities at Hanna Park, and the bike trails in this area are some of the best around. Make sure to bring a helmet since they are required. Trails are suitable for all ages and range from easy to tough.
When you visit Hanna Park, be sure to check out “The Poles,” a renowned Jacksonville surf spot.
Things to Know Before You Go to Hanna Park
- Dogs can run the 1.5 mile of beach and explore the 450 acres of park but be aware that your dog is sharing this land with wildlife.
- Can be found in the park.
Visit Ponte Vedra Beach / Mickler’s Landing
Just twenty minutes south of Jacksonville is the secluded Ponte Vedra Beach, home to the world famous TPC Sawgrass and the magnificent Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.
If you’re not staying in the area but would like to check out the gorgeous beach, there is public access with free parking at Mickler’s Landing (pronounced “mike-lers”) off A1A. The beach is separated into North, Middle and South. Middle Beach is known for the best place to search for shark teeth. This area is also the perfect spot for the people looking to enjoy a little surfing, surf fishing or kiteboarding.
Even further south, you can explore forests, tidal lagoons and coastal dunes at Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Kayak through saltwater grove and mangrove tidal wetlands all while taking in the variety of wildlife – but be mindful of the gators who live in this area!
Things to Know Before You Go to Ponte Vedra Beach
- Dogs are allowed at all times at the beach but must be leashed.
- Mickler’s Landing has public restrooms, outdoor showers, free parking and information about threatened and endangered species in the area.
- There is a handicapped-accessible walkway from the parking area to the beach.
Visit St. Augustine Beach, Florida
If you’re looking to venture outside of Jacksonville during your trip, just an hour south will take you to historic St. Augustine. It’s been more than 500 years since the Spanish conquistadores arrived in St. Augustine, but much of the coastline and surrounding marsh remains as it did back then.
There are several beaches in St. Johns County, including Butler Beach, Crescent Beach and Anastasia State Park. We love St. Augustine Beach because it has a bit of everything – great hotels, seaside restaurants, parks, a fishing pier, sand volleyball court and a splash pad for kids.
Don’t miss the wildlife at Ocean Hammock Park, with a nature trail and a picnic area for lunch. It is a great place to see the sea turtle nesting sites – but shhh, do not disturb them! Along A1A, you’ll find a mixed choice of seafood and Mexican restaurants and ice cream shops for a nice after dinner dessert.
Visiting soon? Check out this guide on where to stay in St. Augustine.
We Just Love the Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida
Which is your favorite out of all the beaches in Jacksonville, Florida? We can’t pick but we’d sure love to hear what you think in the comments!