Schooner Freedom on Full Moon Cruise
Ripple Effects kayak tour

See St. Augustine & Ponte Vedra from the Sea

Grab a boat and a guide for remarkable water views of Florida’s Historic Coast

For nearly three centuries, the flash from a lighthouse has told mariners that the distinctive outline of St. Augustine would soon appear on the western horizon. Today, visitors can experience this same remarkable water view of Florida’s Historic Coast. All that is needed is a boat – and a guide. Here are some suggestions for both.

Water Tours & Cruises

The Schooner Freedom’s white sails billowing in the wind provide a daily reminder of St. Augustine’s sea-going heritage and the romance of sailing ships. From March through September, this 78-foot schooner departs from City Marina on a daily cruise designed for families – you can even bring a picnic lunch along. On this 90-minute cruise, kids get to help raise the sails and watch for dolphins, sea turtles and other wildlife.

There’s also a daily two-hour afternoon cruise and a colorful sunset cruise that offers an unforgettable view of the city bathed in colorful celestial hues. On Friday and Saturday nights April through December, a romantic and beautiful moonlight cruise is added to the mix as well. All cruises include complimentary water, soda, beer and wine. Some feature live music.

In 1947, the Usina family converted their long-popular ferry service into a daily sightseeing cruise aboard the Victory 2. Today, under the banner of St. Augustine Scenic Cruise, the double-decker Victory 3 and her crew continue the tradition of providing guests with an entertaining and educational tour of Matanzas Bay. This large and stable tour boat takes passengers up close to the city’s waterfront and the ramparts of Castillo de San Marcos. Some cruises venture into Salt Run for an impressive view of the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

Morning, midday, afternoon and evening tours depart daily from City Marina. From April 1 through Sept. 3, there’s also a popular dusk cruise. And for those who make an early reservation, the Victory 3 offers a special July 4th cruise featuring a magnificent view of the city’s huge fireworks show!

Themed Water Adventures

Based across the bay at Vilano Beach, Red Boat Water Tours offer daily eco/dolphin encounters and sunset cruises aboard the White Pelican tour boat. Accommodating up to 40 passengers, the boat is ideal for celebrating family events or for hassle-free excursions into Matanzas Bay. They also offer a July 4th Fireworks Cruise.

Centuries ago, pirate ships brought terror to St. Augustine. Today, the pirate ship Black Raven brings a daily cargo of fun and excitement to the Oldest City! Sailing from St. Augustine Marina, the Black Raven’s talented crew hilariously portrays an “Age of Piracy” filled with songs, jokes, magic, sword fights and laughter. Their antics delight passengers of all ages. There’s plenty to keep kids enthralled and adults can even enjoy a cocktail from the ship’s bar.

Black Raven's Family Adventure cruises depart daily at 2:15 and 6:15 p.m. except on Saturday and Sunday when the 2:15 p.m. cruise becomes an exciting Treasure Hunt! On Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m., there’s an “adults only” moonlit cruise featuring a “salty” look at pirate life. 

Florida Eco Tours

St. Augustine Eco Tours provide an up-close-and-personal look at dolphins, manatees, seabirds and other marine wildlife residing in the bays, creeks and rivers of Florida’s Historic Coast. Led by professional naturalists and certified United States Coast Guard captains, the tours include motorboat, kayak and sailing options, with each combining wildlife viewing with marine ecology and historic sights. Families or groups of up to 14 can be accommodated on the boat tour, while the popular kayak tours are ideal for couples.

Headquartered at City Marina, St. Augustine Eco Tours also offer imaginative waterborne tours including a beachcombing expedition led by professional naturalists and a fun and challenging scavenger hunt for teams of up to six players each.
For a more off-the-grid experience, Ripple Effect Eco Tours take guests into the extensive backwaters of Florida’s Historic Coast. Led by University of Florida-certified Master Naturalists and licensed Coast Guard captains, kayak tours explore the beauty and wildlife of the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Faver-Dykes State Park. This eco-tour boat is the only one in the region powered by used cooking oil collected from nearby restaurants! Most tours include free admission to Marineland Dolphin Adventure, and kayak rentals are also available. 

Visiting Anastasia State Park should definitely be on your “must do” list when visiting St. Augustine. Anastasia State Park is one of Florida’s most popular parks. Its white sand beaches, covered picnic areas, hiking trails, ample parking and permanent restrooms make it a great choice for a family outdoor outing that takes you “back to nature.” The park is especially popular with birders. Located on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, visitors may observe shorebirds such as laughing gulls, least terns and black skimmers. Water birds such as the great blue heron, tricolor heron, wood stork and roseate spoonbills can often be seen in the salt marsh.

Watersport Adventures

You’ll have many options for fun on the water, too. Anastasia Watersports rents kayaks and stand up paddleboards.
Another popular kayaking option is Kayak St. Augustine. Departing from Lighthouse Park, they offer tours and lessons for everyone from first-time to experienced paddlers. Tours include the Dancing Dolphin Tour and the History and Ecology Tour. Paddleboard tours and kayak rentals are also available.
Bluewater Adventure is St. Augustine’s newest and most unique water tour. Participants skim across the bay on powered, two-person catamarans. Led by a professional guide, the speedy little boats provide up-close water views of the city, Castillo de San Marcos, the Great Cross, Anastasia Island and the Lighthouse. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities for viewing dolphins and learning about the area’s ecology. A breathtaking sunset tour is also available. These exhilarating three-hour tours depart daily from the St. Augustine Shipyard.        
Fast-moving fun and excitement are provided by Sea Serpent Tours – the area’s ultimate airboat experience! Launching into the St. Johns River just northwest of St. Augustine, their River Tour provides great opportunities to encounter a wide array of local critters, including alligators and manatees! Daily sunset tours are also popular and feature spectacular sunsets viewed from the river or from a private island in the Guana River basin.