Fort Matanzas Getaways

park getaways

Fort Matanzas, built 1740-1742, represents a well-preserved masonry watchtower fort built by the Spanish. By erecting a perch to observe enemy vessels approaching from the south, the fort played a strategic role in warning St. Augustine of potential enemy advancements via the Matanzas River. This national monument is 14 miles south of St. Augustine, now serving as a reminder of the early Spanish empire in the New World.

Fort Matanzas rests on barrier islands along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas estuary. In addition to its historical significance, the site provides a natural habitat rich in wildlife with the salt marsh, scrub, and maritime hammock protecting endangered and threatened species.

Historic Fort Matanzas is accessible only by boat. A free ferry takes visitors across the Matanzas River where they will find a visitor center that provides exhibits, a short video and wonderful books about the site and it's natural inhabitants. Weather permitting, the ferry runs daily from 9 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Exploring the island is very pleasant and informative. A number of federally endangered or threatened species inhabit the island. Tourists may venture along a short nature trail, along the beaches or by the riverfront experiencing the coastal maritime forest. The park hosts educational programs and special events throughout the year, including the popular torch light tours. For details, call 904-471-0116. Fishing and water sports are other forms of permissible recreations.

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