Ponte Vedra Beach is a world-class golf and tennis destination, just 20 miles outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Many people lump all the beaches together in the area, but Ponte Vedra Beach is worlds apart. Character alone sets it apart. In a separate county (St. Johns), Ponte Vedra has focused on golf-course living and tries hard to be upscale. In face, many of the beachfront mansions have security fences, serpentine walls, and hedges that look like they came out of a James Bond flick.
The name is Ponte Vedra Beach, but the community itself is a good ways from the beach. And from the beach to town center, every blade of grass is unnaturally, obsessively landscaped and contoured. Many of the beautiful residential communities were built on filled-in wetlands, created before the EPA put a stop to environmental destruction here. Funny that the communities bear the names of the very natural features they’ve supplanted – Marsh Landing, Old Palm Valley, etc.
From Duval County south to the end of Ponte Vedra Beach is about 6.5 miles and all of it is fronted by a wide beach. But as if feeling that it’s not welcome, Highway A1A swerves inland making getting to the ocean a task sometimes only accomplished by going through gated communities, or through narrow walkways next to homes.
You can access the beach near the resorts that line State Route 203 at around Highway A1A. This is called Mickler’s Landing (no sign) and only recently have they put in a visitor-friendly lot which is paved for parking. There is a nice crossover that allows access to vegetation-covered dunes and a really nice beach with hard-packed sand.
This county-run park has no facilities, still it’s popular with families and surfer from the area who are otherwise fenced out of the beachfront for the next seven miles (thanks to development.)
Location: south end of Ponte Vedra Beach on Highway A1A
Parking: free parking lot
Hours: October 1 through April 30, 24 hours; May 1 through September 30, 5 AM – 10 PM.
Facilities: lifeguards (seasonal)
Contact: St. Johns County Recreation Department 1-904-471-6616