Florida’s Historic Coast is the area around St Augustine and Ponta Vedra, north of Daytona Beach and south of Jacksonville. It is a truly historic corner of the state compared to the rest, as the city of St Augustine was founded over 400 years ago.
The city was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, although the area was first claimed for Spain by Ponce de Leon in 1513. He named the area La Florida. It is now the oldest continuously occupied city established by a European in the US.
The area has been welcoming visitors for over 125 years, ever since the railroad opened up the access to this sunny winter resort. Here are some of my favourite things to do in the area. Enjoy!
Traditional fishing charters and sightseeing boat trips are available in the area, along with a memorable two-hour trip in the schooner, Freedom. However, the most talked about boat trip is the El Conquistador. Riders on this high-speed jet boat tour wear Spanish Conquistador helmets and enjoy a 30-minute ride including stunts such as figure-of-eights and high speed turns to really get the adrenalin pumping. The trip starts from the marina in St Augustine and costs around $25. The early conquistadors would be green with envy!
Lighthouse and Lost Ships Tours
The landmark St Augustine Lighthouse is open daily for tours. Climb the steps to the observation platform for great views of the city and historic coastline. The tower is said to be haunted and paranormal ghost tours are offered several times a week after dark.
The lighthouse also has its own fascinating museum of maritime objects relating to this coast. You can join a guided tour with an underwater archaeologist to see the artifacts recovered from 18th century shipwrecks along this coast. As well as seeing the collection of personal and historic items recovered, the guide explains the methods used for excavating underwater sites and the process for recovering bounty.
Visit an Archaeological Park
The Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is full of interesting and surprising things. There is a 600-foot observation deck with views over the tidal marshes, which are home to many birds. There is a recreated model of the ship that Ponce de Leon would have used on his voyages of discovery, a native Timucua Indian village, a two story-high globe, a waterfront park and a planetarium. You can watch a cannon being fired and taste the legendary water, said to be the fountain of youth.
Florida has perfect golfing weather from fall through late spring, but after that, it is too hot and humid to consider such an active sport. However, it has hundreds of world-class golf courses, many of which can be found around Ponte Vedra. Some of the most highly regarded courses include the Sawgrass Country Club, Marsh Landing Country Club, Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Pablo Creek Golf Club and Windsor Parke Golf Club.
Relax on the Beach
There are 42 miles of beautiful sandy beaches along Florida’s Historic Coast that are popular for surfing and sunbathing. There is often an onshore wind in the afternoon to keep temperatures bearable although in summer the scorching heat makes it wise to visit the beach either very early or late in the day. Popular things to do include shelling, boating, fishing, surfing and water sports. The sand is firm enough to enjoy long walks or bicycle rides along the beach.
This informative book offers details of 20 best beaches and coastal cities in Florida
It is also available to download as an ebook:
20 Best Florida Beaches and Coastal Cities