GET YOUR BEARINGS
From St. Augustine's old town, head across the Bridge of Lions and reach Anastasia Island. Running roughly north- south for 11 miles, St. Augustine Beach sits just below Anastasia State Park. A community with 'beach' permanently on its mind, you'll find everything vacation- related at your fingertips. Using the fishing pier as 'Mile 0', there's a kids' splash park and beach volleyball, then miles of beach access, surf shops, beach cafés and so on.
To get the lie of the land, there's no better first step on St. Augustine Beach than to see the whole thing from above. Speaking of steps
ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE
You always take the stairs instead of the elevator, right? Put that athletic prowess on display as you climb 214 steps up this black and white stripey lighthouse, to earn the best view in the county. (The breeze will be welcome, too). Don't dismiss this landmark as "just a lighthouse", it offers fascinating history and special interest events. 'The Lost Ships' provides archaeological insight to the shipwrecks of yore, while the 'Dark of the Moon Tour' is a spooky after-hours ghost event. The latter is extremely popular (if crowds put you off, note that there is a private tour option). Early riser? Consider watching the sunrise from the lighthouse top deck - then beating the entire beach to breakfast.
ST. AUGUSTINE PIER
The center of the community, the pier is part of a larger 4-acre park that hosts free summer concerts and weekly farmers' markets (see pages 45 and 29), and has a great splash park for kids (see page 35). If you've got fishing on your mind, you can rent all your equipment and buy bait on site, then pay a small fee for a daily pass.
While St. Augustine Beach is busier than Vilano, cars on the beach are by no means an overwhelming feature. Many will park and use the car as a convenient cooler and changing room, rather than driving in a procession as in Daytona. There is a designated car-free section of the beach, if you prefer.