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Anastasia Island Sugary white sand beaches, spoonbills, and community

Anastasia Island, which includes some of Saint Augustine’s best beaches, is a pretty sweet place to live.

Stretching from Anastasia State Park, with its more than 1,600 acres of unspoiled beaches and amphitheater, to the Matanzas Inlet, the 14-mile long barrier island also supports dozens of thriving residential districts and commercial corridors where you can get just about everything you need.

Life on Anastasia Island

Anastasia Island is a laid back beach town buffered by nature preserves and blessed with ocean breezes. You get there by taking the Bridge of Lions over Matanzas Bay. It’s a popular tourist destination, but it doesn’t get overrun.

You’ll find more mom and pop surf shops and classic roadside motels here than elsewhere in the city. And for all its laid back charms and natural blessings, a home in Anastasia Island may be more affordable than you think.

Home Prices

You have a range of communities and price points on the island, which makes sense for an island that stretches across 14 miles. Home prices generally start around $400k and can easily eclipse $1M for a perch right on the ocean. The median home price is in the mid $500k range.

In Saint Augustine Beach, a classic Florida beach town on the Atlantic, the average home sells in the $400K range, with home prices up 20.5% compared to last year. Further north in the Lighthouse Park area, which enjoys easy access to beach concerts and a farmers market, the median home sells in the $800K range, with home prices up 107% since last year.

There are also dozens of condo communities on the island, like Anastasia by the Sea and Pier Point South, which offer ocean views at affordable prices and without the maintenance hassles. Condos can go from anywhere from $200k to $600k. Many offer short term rental opportunities for the investor.

Where to Buy

Lighthouse Park, nestled between Anastasia State Park and the Mantanzas, is a quaint older neighborhood, with thick tree canopies providing shade all the way to the beach. The neighborhood gets its name from the dapper black and white striped light house that anchors a lovely park.

Davis Shores, located just over the Bridge of Lions on the island’s northern tip, is a waterfront community with winding boulevards, perfect for strolling or biking. Homes are a mix of prewar bungalows, midcentury moderns, and a smattering of new construction. 

Saint Augustine Beach is a quintessential Florida beach town, packed with resorts and restaurants. And of course, sugary white sand beaches.

Butler Beach, located just south of Saint Augustine Beach, also has white sand beaches and a quieter vibe than the beaches closer to downtown. Named after an African American businessman who, in the 1920s, bought up enough beachfront land to open up access to people of color, Butler Beach again made history when it played host to MLK during the Civil Rights era.

Crescent Beach is the last oceanside community before you reach the Matanzas Inlet. Like its neighbors on Anastasia’s south side, the vibe is laid back and the beaches are less crowded. The beaches range from white sand to coquita (the shellstone used to build the 16th century Spanish forts), with some doubling as protected turtle habitat.

Things to Do

Lighthouse Park and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

The lighthouse that gives the park and the neighborhood its name was built in 1875. It’s 200 steps to the top. The panoramic view is breathtaking. The park is a popular staging area for kayak and paddleboard trips into Saint Augustine harbor. It also features tennis courts and areas for picnicking.

View from Anastasia Island's iconic lighthouse
The view from the light house overlooking Anastasia Island. Photo by Emilio Labrado on Flickr

Anastasia Island’s Arcade Museum

The Arcade Museum is chock full of classic arcade and pinball games. It’s open on Saturdays between noon and 8pm. No coins are needed. “It’s a super fun way to unwind,” one fan of the Arcade Museum writes on Facebook, “unless you are intensely competitive about Pacman and now have carpel tunnel and arthritis from holding the joystick so tight.”

Historical Reenactments at Fort Matanzas

The cannon smoke has long since cleared, but Fort Matanzas remains as a lasting testament to Florida’s colorful — and brutal — colonial past. Matanza, after all, is the Spanish word for ‘massacre’. It got its name after the Spanish colonists executed a bunch of their French rivals near the site.

Like the rest of the old Spanish fortifications in St. Augustine, Fort Matanzas was built with coquina, a naturally occurring stone made of shell fragments that were cemented together by pounding surf, which was quarried by indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans, and Cuban soldiers.

Fort Matanzas connects with a network of beautiful nature trails. A half mile boardwalk trail leads through maritime forests that support a great diversity of plants and wild life.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

The St. Augustine Alligator Famm is home to a dizzying array of animals, from toucons and lemurs to komodo dragons and, of course, every species of alligator and crocodile under the sun.

The alligators actually act as security for the herons, egrets, spoonbills, and storks that call the farm home, preventing other predators from climbing the trees they nest in during the spring (see below). Spring is the best time to take a stroll through the Wading Bird Rookery.

Thrill-seekers can zip through the treetops, taking in the exotic birds and rain forest creatures as they dangle above a sea of crocodiles. Molly Wilson of the St. Augustine Social writes of the rope courses that crisscross the park, “We were joined on our zip line journey by an 85-year-old woman and her grandson. It’s an adventure for anyone willing to strap up and take the plunge.” Read more of her first-person account of zip lining at the Alligator Farm here.

Prefer to stick to nature’s cuddlier side? You can get up close and personal with adorable sloths at the new Sloth Landing exhibit.

How cute are we? Photo by Steve @ the alligator farm on Flickr.

The Amphitheater at Anastasia State Park

The 16-acre outdoor theater, located right off A1A Blvd on the west side of Anastasia Park, hosts world-renowned act year round. It’s a small enough space to be intimate but big enough to draw major performers. During lulls in performances you can hear the faint roar of the ocean.

The Amphitheater Farmer’s Market is a favorite Saturday morning pastime of many an Anastasia Islander. Vendors offer everything from farm fresh produce to craft soaps to house plants.

Parking is tight on concerts nights. With some jockeying you can find a spot, or you can save yourself the hassle by parking at the Elks Lodge or hailing a rideshare.

St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier

The pier stretches far into the coast ocean, affording great views of the coastline. You can fish or just take a stroll to the end of the pier. Benches are there so you can sit and take it all in. The beach next to the pier can get crowded, but it’s a great spot for all ages with a splash pad, playground, full showers, and restrooms.

Saint Augustine Beach on a lovely January afternoon. Photo by SMILE DIFRNT on Unsplash

Where to Eat

Here are just three stand out restaurants to whet your appetite from among the many options to choose from on Anastasia Island.

Conch House Marina

Marina, 57 Comares Ave

This Caribbean-influenced restaurant is right on the Salt Run, so you can watch the boats go by as you dig into your jerk chicken egg rolls, which are served with sweet and spicy pineapple and datil pepper dipping sauce.

Llama Restaurant

415 Anastasia Blvd

Llama serves up authentic Peruvian specialties in a charming setting with an intimate feel. The food is delicious and there’s a lot of attention given to presentation. The chef is also a great raconteur. There are only 9 tables, so be sure to make a reservation.

Gas Full Service

9 Anastasia Blvd C

A casual eatery serving steak, seafood, modern Southern staples and beer in a funky, retro space. Their juicy burgers and sweet potato fries do not disappoint.

Where to Get Groceries

For everyday shopping, there’s a Publix in Anastasia Plaza, off A1A Blvd, between Saint Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach. 

For a more boutique option, try Fresh Market Island on Highway A1A in the Davis Shores neighborhood. They sell locally sourced meats, artisan bread (made on site), gourmet meals to go, desserts, and a variety of wines. They also have vegan options and a variety of South African specialties.

Spotlight on Unique Local Businesses

Chop Shop – A one stop artisan shop for all your charcuterie and organic produce needs.

Creative Juices Natural Cafe – Vegan food that actually tastes good, and nourishes a creative community.

Growers Alliance – A coffee shop and roasting operation that supports development projects in rural Kenya.

Koastal Paddleboard Yoga – Saint Augustine’s only floating yoga studio.

Read more here: Anastasia Island – Spotlight on Unique Local Businesses

St Johns County Schools

The St. Johns County School District is one of the best in Florida. All of the public schools zoned for Anastasia Island are top-rated.

Elementary School Zone: R.B. Hunt
Middle School Zone: Sebastian
High School Zone: St. Augustine

Airbnbs and Short Term Rentals

If you’re thinking about renting out a room or investing in a short term rental property, you should know about new laws regulating the Airbnb market. Much of the downtown core has minimum stay requirement for vacation rentals, which means it’s easier to operate a vacation rental further south, in communities like Butler Beach and Crescent Beach.

Read more about the Saint Augustine short term rental market here: Should I Invest in a Short Term Rental in Saint Augustine?

Flood Insurance

Anastasia Island rarely gets hit directly by hurricanes, but flooding during big storms is not uncommon. Look for a home at an elevation of over eight feet and no history of flooding. If you have a mortgage you will need flood insurance.

Get in Touch with a Real Estate Agent at Rabell

Interested in buying a home in Saint Augustine? We’re here to answer any questions you may have. Our agents know the housing market and neighborhood amenities that matter most, and can point you in the right direction! Give us a call at 352-559-8820 to connect with a knowledgeable St. Augustine realtor today.