About half an hour north of downtown St. Augustine, towering dunes and shell-laden shores invite beach-goers to explore Ponte Vedra Beach. Access is limited, but there’s at least one beach access area with parking: Mickler’s Landing. Look for Mickler Road off State Road A1A and head east two blocks. You’ll find plenty of parking, restroom facilities, outdoor showers and a wooden boardwalk that leads across the dunes to the pristine beach.
Most of the other beach access points don’t have parking, as they’re tucked between houses in residential areas, but you can walk in with your beach chairs and towels.
The dearth of beach access translates into uncrowded beaches. Your time on the beach won’t be interrupted by vehicular traffic; cars aren’t allowed anywhere on Ponte Vedra Beach. Walk for miles along the pristine shores with only royal terns, laughing gulls and other seabirds for company. Scan the beach for untrampled shells and prehistoric sharks’ teeth. Nap under a beach umbrella or dive into an escapist novel with only the gentle surf as your soundtrack. If you walk the beach at dawn during late summer or early fall, you might spot a nest full of sea turtle hatchlings making their way to the surf.
When you’ve had your fill of relaxing and are looking for lunch or a cold beverage, you can head to the beachfront High Tides Bar at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
or The Oasis at The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra
, among others. Fine food is accompanied by great views and top-notch people watching.
Cantering through the surf at sunset – doesn’t that happen only in the movies? In Ponte Vedra Beach, you can bring a movie set to life. Local stables will lead horseback adventures right on the beach for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If an afternoon round of golf or game of tennis sounds appealing, you’ve come to the right place. Ponte Vedra is home base for the PGA Tour
, THE PLAYERS Championship
and the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour. Some golf courses
and tennis courts are private or for resort guests only, so research your options in advance. You'll also find plenty of upscale shopping
opportunities here.Getting there
Ponte Vedra Beach is on State Road A1A at the northern end of St. Johns County, about 30 minutes north of downtown St. Augustine. It’s located east of the Intracoastal Waterway, north of Villano Beach and south of Jacksonville Beach. Leaving St. Augustine, head north on State Road A1A for about 25 miles.Along the way
On your way back to town, stop in at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (it’s a mouthful – just call it the GTM Reserve
). Home to 44 mammal and 358 bird species, the reserve protects some 73,000 acres in one of the fastest-growing parts of Florida. A right whale suspended from the ceiling dominates the exhibit hall at the Environmental Education Center, where you’ll also find aquariums, nature exhibits and a nature store. Ten miles of nature trails at the reserve are open to pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.