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The mighty St. Johns River combined with the beautiful Atlantic Ocean gives boaters exclusive access to the most beautiful beaches and islands in the region.
Whether you are renting a boat for the day, or cruising Jacksonville on a longer voyage, here are a few hotspots that are mariner must-dos:
Ft. George Inlet is a local boater haven that is always hopping on the weekends. Located where the Ft. George River opens up into the Atlantic Ocean, the inlet’s wide beaches and long sandbars are an invitation to spend a day of relaxation and fun. The beaches are pristine, and the waters of the Ft. George Inlet are shallow and always moving giving it a clarity that inspires some locals to call it the First Coast “Bahamas.”
Along the St. Johns River, Mill Cove is a fantastic anchorage for cruisers and day boaters alike. While the tides can be strong, the wide-open waters of the cove are relatively calm making it a great space for watersports like wakeboarding and waterskiing. Dotted with marshy islands, Mill Cove is also a favorite of anglers for backwater fishing.
Underneath the Matthews Bridge sits Exchange Club Island, nestled in the hubbub of the St. Johns River as it carves its way through Downtown Jacksonville. It is a taste of old Florida with its 34 acres of wilderness. A floating dock, picnic tables, shady trails and quiet beaches make it a hideout worth exploring.
The Intracoastal Waterway is a fabulous way to explore Jacksonville. Boaters can hop on the scenic waterway off the St. Johns River in the historic Mayport fishing village and then head south to Jacksonville Beach. The ICW throughout this region of Florida is full of marshes and wetlands packed with birds, dolphins, manatees and unique views of the area.
Boat off the coast and head to Jacksonville Beach for some great fishing and watersports. The biggest draw to the coast is fishing for dolphin, tuna, grouper, and more. Fishing is huge in Jacksonville and it’s one of the perks of being a boater here. At the mouth of the St. John River and the Atlantic Ocean is the Mayport Jetties, one of the best spots for local anglers.
Cruise over to Julington Creek and dock for lunch or dinner at Clark’s Fish Camp Seafood Restaurant. There’s even a live alligator and turtles for you to see after you’ve had your fill of some of the best fresh seafood around.
No matter where you choose to spend your day on the water, whether it be drifting on the river or beaching in a coastal inlet, one thing is certain; the boating traffic will be less than in other parts of the Sunshine state making it easy to let go and unwind!