One of the best things about living in Jacksonville is the miles and miles of beaches. Lucky for us North Florida beaches offer everything from waves for surfing to hunting for shark teeth. So whether you’re looking for a quiet day at the beach to decompress or want to take the kids out for some fun in the sun, we’ve rounded the ultimate guide.
Best Beach to Find Shark Teeth
Mickler’s Beach – Known by locals as the best spot in Jacksonville to hunt for shark teeth, Mickler’s Beach (pronounced Mike-Ler) has free parking, bathrooms, picnic tables and showers. Try to visit at low tide for your best chance of finding some toothy treasures.
Fort Clinch State Park – Just an hour north of Jacksonville, Fort Clinch sits on the Cumberland Sound, just a short hop from the state line. The fort makes a great day trip. But treasure lies behind the fort on the shelly beach. There is where you’ll find some of the best shark tooth hunting in the area. It’s not uncommon to find handfuls of teeth after just a short search.
Best Beach to Find Sea Glass in North Florida
Hanna Park – Sea glass in Jacksonville can be hit or miss. It’s definitely not something we’re known for, but if you know where to look, there are some treasures to be found. If you visit at low tide, Hanna Park is your best chance to find sea glass.
Best Jacksonville Beaches for Kids
South Jacksonville Beach – Away from the hotel scene, this primarily residential area offers fewer crowds making it easier to keep an eye on the kids. If you visit when the tide is on the way out there are lots of wide tide pools where little kids can splash and play away from the big waves.
Matanzas Inlet Beach – Located south of St. Augustine this inlet area has few waves. Low tide exposes lots of rocks and sea life that kids will love to explore. If you’re in the area, plan a visit to Fort Matanzas National Monument for some free family fun.
Hanna Park – If you’re looking for a great family friendly beach that also has access to bathrooms, a nearby playground, and even a recently renovated splash pad, then Hanna Park is the place to go. There’s a small $5 per car fee to enter the park, but once you’re in there’s plenty to keep everyone busy for a day of fun.
Best Rocky Beach to Explore
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park – One of our favorite beaches to visit in the winter is Washington Oaks. This Florida State Park offers visitors a beachy terrain unlike those in most of Florida. Kids will love climbing over the rocks and exploring the tide pools.
Best North Florida Beaches to Relax without Kids
Neptune Beach – Two reasons we love Neptune Beach without kids, lots of great date night spots at Beaches Town Center and easy access to Beach Life Rentals. Reserve a few chairs and an umbrella ahead of time through their online site. Later, after you’ve enjoyed some kid-free time head over to Flying Iguana for a margarita.
GTM Guana River South Beach – If you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way spot to visit the beach, then just south of Jacksonville, lies Guana. You have to park across the street and carry all your items over to the ocean side, but the remote location makes it an excellent spot to relax without big crowds.
Best Beach for Surfing in North Florida
Atlantic Beach – Atlantic Beach is a long and wide beach, so there is plenty of room to a spread out. This gives surfers plenty of room to enjoy the waves. This is a great spot for beginners and many local surf schools give lessons in this area.
Mayport Poles at Hanna Park – Known to locals as The Poles this is a hotspot for Jacksonville surfers. This area can get crowded on the weekends and it’s best for intermediate to advanced surfers. There is a small fee to enter Hanna Park.
Jacksonville Beach you Can Drive On
Huguenot Memorial Park – The only spots where you can drive on the beach in Jacksonville, is at Huguenot Park. There’s a small fee to enter the park. The sand at Huguenot is soft, so 4 wheel drive is recommended, but not required. Go at low tide for the most room and bring chairs and coolers to tailgate right at the water’s edge.
Best North Florida Beaches for Collecting Shells
Little Talbot Island – Just north of Jacksonville sits Little Talbot Island State Park. An undeveloped barrier island with over 5 miles of beach for you to explore. While there aren’t really any amazing beaches for shelling in North Florida (unlike the Gulf Coast beaches), you can sometimes find some beautiful specimens at Little Talbot.
Vilano Beach – Just north of St. Augustine sits Vilano Beach. With lots of waves and a swift current it’s not idea for swimming, particularly with kids. However, it’s a great spot for beach combing as the surf frequently washes up shells and occasionally shark teeth.
Best Beach for Climbing on Driftwood
Big Talbot Island State Park – Hidden off the beaten path at Big Talbot Island State Park is a beach that’s littered with driftwood. Just a short 15 minute walk from the parking lot to access the beach. It’s the perfect spot for kids to explore.
Best Beach for Camping in North Florida
Anastasia State Park – One of our favorite state parks in the area, while you can’t camp directly on the beach, you’re pretty close. The short walk from your campsite to the ocean makes this a great spot to visit with the family.