Take A Trip To This Beachside Florida State Park For Incredible Wildlife Views

Aside from iconic party beaches and the flashy nightlife in Miami, Florida is known for its serene beaches nestled among nautical wildlands. The southern state has 175 state parks and is home to over 4,000 subtropical and tropical animal species. For your next nature-filled Florida adventure, travel down to Anastasia State Park, a protected beachside haven that provides incredible wildlife viewing opportunities without the huge touristy crowds.

Anastasia State Park is located on Anastasia Island off the coast of St. Augustine, a Northeastern coastal city that borders the Atlantic Ocean. The state park boasts over 1,600 acres of protected white sand beaches, tidal marshes, and coastal hammocks. The picturesque landscape is brimming with diverse animal life, including manatees, turtles, dolphins, seabirds, lizards, and the endangered Anastasia Island beach mouse. From trekking unpaved Florida hiking trails to cruising off the pristine coast in a kayak, there are several prime wildlife-watching spots to visit during your outdoor Anastasia Island adventure.

The best places to spot wildlife in the park

The park has 4 miles of pristine beach to stroll for an ultra-relaxing wildlife-watching experience. From the shoreline, you'll discover crabs among the seashells, a pod of wild dolphins in the distance, and several seabirds. Low tide is the ideal time to observe birds feeding in tidal pools, including nesting least terns and wintering piping plovers, which are threatened. More feathered creatures are at a fishing pier at the south end of the beach.

Anastasia State Park has multiple trails perfect for observing wildlife in their natural habitat. The highly popular Ancient Dunes Trail is a favorite among visitors and locals. As the name suggests, the Ancient Dunes Trail is a 0.7-mile, moderate loop that weaves through a maritime hammock and aged sand dunes. The shaded trail is surrounded by critters that reside in the coastal habitat. Another well-traversed hike is The Marsh Trail, an easy out-and-back route roughly .9 miles long. The short trail runs alongside the banks of Salt Run, a beautiful, inter-coastal waterway abundant with marine life. If you look closely, you might be able to find a manatee or sea turtles during their nesting season.

Venturing into the salty waters is one of the best ways to view wildlife. Anastasia State Park has guided Salt Run paddle tours you can book online. Additionally, Anastasia Watersports offers affordable canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and sailboat rentals inside the state park.

Where to stay and when to visit

The peak season for St. Augustine is summer. However, the ideal time to visit this coastal area is between March and May when the weather is still cozy but with fewer crowds. For adventurers wanting to explore the park by sea, the water temperature in St. Augustine typically becomes comfortable for swimming beginning in April.

Furthermore, accommodations tend to be cheaper from March through May than during hotter months. If you're searching for more traditional lodging, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hampton Inn, and several other hotels have locations within a 10-minute distance from the park. Would you rather wake up immersed in the Florida wilderness? Anastasia State Park has 139 campsites suitable for RVs and tents. You can make reservations to stay inside the park's grounds ahead of time for typically less than $30. 

For nature lovers, Anastasia State Park has it all. Stroll through Florida wilderness to observe wildlife on land, brave the ocean for a closer look at maritime animals, or just kick back and relax near sandy dunes as birds fly by.