St. Augustine Served Two Ways
As we’ve mentioned before, it is not easy to find spots for a 38′ motorhome in most of Florida’s state parks. They usually only have a few sites that fit a rig that size (if any) and they’re almost always reserved until the end of time (or the end of the reservation window, whichever may come first).
We really wanted to see St. Augustine and had heard great things about Anastasia state park, so we booked it immediately when 3 consecutive nights at Anastasia became available on ReserveAmerica.com. We like to stay in a place for longer than 3 nights… so we then had to find another place to stay, assuming we didn’t manage to extend our time at Anastasia somehow. Which is why we ended up staying at two different campgrounds while visiting St. Augustine.
Visitors from Home
We were thrilled to have Hannah’s dad and sister fly down to visit us in St. Augustine! They stayed right in town and spent basically their entire 5 day stay visiting and exploring with us. Hannah’s sister’s birthday happened to land when they were with us, so we even got to celebrate that with them! It was great to have them with us and so fun to watch them with Calla. She certainly loved their visit as well.
Part 1: Tales from the Swarm
We had heard great things about Anastasia state park from the beginning of our journey, and it’s clear why people love this place. The location is great – it’s just a few minutes from downtown St. Augustine – and the beach is amazing. The whole park is really nice, actually.
Expect for one minor detail – THE MOSQUITOES. It turns out that hurricane Irma left a lot of standing water on the ground in this area. And you know what loves water? Mosquitoes. Do you know what else they love? Human flesh.
As beautiful as Anastasia state park was, it was absolutely ruined by the interminable mosquito siege that was going on in the campground. Our site had large pools of standing water and tons of vegetation all around it, so we were not spared.
I’m usually not too bothered by bugs, but this was different – I felt like I was prey. We had to literally run to the bathhouse when we wanted to shower (the sites are E/W only) while using the towel to debug ourselves. We saw others embracing similar tactics, which turned out to be much funnier when it’s not you being attacked. And yes, we were using DEET, and no, that didn’t fully keep them away.
They even managed to bite us as we rode our bikes – it felt like there was a cloud behind us, waiting for us to stop, while also producing kamikaze bugs that somehow landed on our backs while going 15MPH.
Anyway, we made the best of it. They weren’t bad at the beach or in St. Augustine itself, so we spent as little time as possible outside at the campsite and explored elsewhere.
Part 2: The Beach to the North – North Beach
We happily did not inquire about staying longer at Anastasia and moved on to our reservation at North Beach Camp Resort. It was just on the other side of St. Augustine – only a 20 minute drive. Fortunately the bugs there weren’t bad at all there.
North Beach is right on the banks of the Talomato River. It also extends to the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of A1A. It wasn’t our favorite spot, but it was decent enough. The nightly rates were steep ($70+), the office was kind of dumpy, and the place had too many long-term residents for our taste, but it had a decent beach, full hookups, and was still close to St. Augustine.
What was shocking, though, was the damage done to the area by hurricane Irma. Many houses looked empty and even more had major exterior damage. The shore itself was severely impacted as well – an insane amount of sand (tens of feet deep) was swept away by the storm. Decks and fences that were previously at beach level were now 15 feet in the air. Beachfront houses’ support beams were fully exposed and often damaged. It was eye-opening and sad, but intriguing in an uncomfortable way.
Visiting Castillo de San Marcos
There is a really old, really big fort smack in the middle of St. Augustine. It’s a national monument and definitely worth exploring. We watched another cannon demo and learned a lot about its Spanish history and its coquina construction.
We really enjoyed our time in St. Augustine. The city and its beaches are beautiful. And having family visit us made it great! We’d recommend a visit to Anastasia – the bug problem was due to the hurricane and probably is already back to normal.