The stretch of land that makes up St. Andrews State Park was a former military base, but now has become a gem for outdoor recreation, from fishing and paddling, to swimming and hiking through the diverse plant communities. St. Andrews’ 1,200 acre park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and a thin strip of Grand Lagoon, a part of St. Andrew’s Bay. These bodies of water offer an abundance of fishing options from the pier, the jetties or beach shores, or deep sea fishing by boat.
Along the mile and a half of shoreline, St. Andrews’ calm Gulf waters are ideal for coastal paddling or swimming. Kayaks are available to rent in the summer time from the park’s camp store. Paddle out on the flat water of the Lagoon, or make the journey across the boat channel to Shell Island.
What Makes It Great
St. Andrews is a fisherman’s paradise, as the park features two fishing piers, a jetty and a boat ramp to put-in for deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The shoreline is ideal for surf fishing, while the lagoon pier and the 500-foot ocean pier are ideal. Fisherman are known to catch Spanish mackerel, red fish, flounder, sea trout, bonito, cobia, dolphin and bluefish. A fishing license is required.
In addition to its marine life, St. Andrews State Park is home to diverse coastal plant communities. The Heron Pond Trail meanders through the flatwood pine forest, and past the Turpentine Still. Heron and Ibis can often be seen feeding along the water’s edges. The Gator Lake trail is 0.5 miles and goes through the marshlands. Like its name, this is the ideal place to spot alligator and a variety of other waterfowl.
Shell island boat tours are available in Spring and Summer from March through Labor Day. A boat shuttle takes you from the mainland to the barrier island. Like its namesake, the island is abundant with shells. Swimming is popular in the shallows of the island.
Who is Going to Love It
St. Andrews State Park is popular for overnight guests, where you can tent or RV camp in the camping area near the lagoon. The park has 176 camp sites that include electricity, water, picnic tables and grills. Five bathrooms are situated around the campgrounds, and the addition of laundry facilities add to the comfort factor here. Camping reservations can be made through Reserve America and fees are $28 per night.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking fee is $8 per vehicle with two to eight passengers, or $4 for a single occupant. Pedestrians and cyclists’ fee is $2. There are two parking areas to access the beach, Shower facilities are located at each of these parking lots. The park boat ramp is a two-sided concrete launch that fits most boat sizes. A $12 fee is required for one person with a boat, or $16 for two to eight people. Bring your dog to explore the trails, but note that they are not allowed on the beaches or wetlands.