Jacksonville’s seven bridges expand across the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. There is water, water everywhere! With so much water surrounding the area, there is sure to be a water activity for you to jump into!
Mug Race Sailing Regatta
“The longest sailboat race in the world” sails through Northeast Florida each spring. Since 1953, sailors have tried the challenge of Mug Racing in boats ranging from sailing canoes and Sunfish to high-tech catamarans. The 38-mile race takes place the first Saturday in May each year, beginning along the waterfront in Palatka, a small town about an hour’s drive south of Jacksonville, and ends in Orange Park.
Explore the Salt Marsh
Quiet creeks and salt marsh ebb and flow throughout the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve . In this vast wetland lays a community teaming with unique birds, plants and wildlife. Much of the salt marsh can only be navigated by kayak. Kayak Amelia at Long Island Outfitters offers guided kayak/nature tours, as well as canoe and kayak rentals. There are nine canoe/kayak launch points in Jacksonville.
Arrive in Style
Many of Jacksonville’s festivals and celebrations take place Downtown. Fireworks are often shot from the Main Street and Acosta Bridges featuring Jacksonville’s signature waterfalls of fireworks. For a front row seat to see it all, dock your boat at Metropolitan Park Marina. This marina has 78 boat slips that accommodate boats up to 80 feet LOA. The marina is also walking distance to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium , where the Jacksonville Jaguars roar and college football match-ups energize the crowd. JaxParks maintains more than 21 boat ramps in the area.
The Wave Masters – Time to Surf
Since 1983, The Wave Masters Society, once just a group of surfer dudes looking to expand their sport, have hosted a surf contest at Jacksonville. Today, that contest has evolved into Florida’s largest and most prestigious open amateur surfing contest. This annual contest held in May attracts over 300 competitors from all over the southeast and draws thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
X Camp – Time to Wakeboard
The St. Johns River and creeks feeding into it, like Black Creek, are popular hotspots to water ski and wakeboard. X Camp provides spring and summer camps for students of all ages and abilities, taught by an experienced and professional staff. If summer camp is not for you, then take private lessons. X Camp boasts the best in instruction and guarantees improved riding ability. All equipment is provided including wakeboards, wake skates, skis, life vests, wetsuits, etc. Whether you want to stop by for an hour or cruise the river on a Saturday afternoon, there is a program for you!
X Camp’s waterfront location also provides the best in entertaining options. Celebrate a birthday or enjoy a unique activity with friends while in town by bringing your friends out on the boat. A post-party comes with several hours of instruction. The facility is perfect for eating and hanging out. Jet Ski rentals are also available.
An Ideal Spot for Fishing
Convenient access to water, both fresh and salt, is the primary reason the City of Jacksonville exists where it does. The first European explorers to happen upon northeast Florida sailed into the St. Johns River looking for safe harbor. And early settlers used the mighty river as a source for food as well as a watery passageway to venture deep into Florida’s untamed interior. Today, the St. Johns and the dozens of creeks and small rivers that flow into it are enjoyed by thousands of boaters and fishermen each day.
With so many miles of riverfront shoreline in Jacksonville, boaters find marinas stretched from Orange Park to Jacksonville Beach. And if it’s a deep-sea adventure you seek, the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway are an easy 30-minute cruise from Downtown Jacksonville.
Supply the desire to fish and let Backwater Fishing Adventures supply the equipment and expertise. Specializing in light tackle and fly-fishing, Captain Dave Borries has over 20 years experience navigating the waterways of Northeast Florida. Backwater Fishing Adventures can help even the novice fisherman discover the secret hideaways perfect for fly-fishing throughout the waters of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve . For those more interested in seeing the sights than catching their dinner, charters are available to tour the wetlands and experience the local wildlife. Be on the lookout for manatees, egrets, ospreys and an occasional dolphin.
The Nassau Sound Fishing Bridge provides fishermen access to one of the best fishing areas in Northeast Florida. The mile-long fishing bridge spans Nassau Sound. Entrance to the fishing bridge is through the entrance to Amelia Island State Park. Whiting, jack, drum and tarpon are some of the many species that can be caught from the bridge.
Off the coast of Jacksonville, the list of saltwater sport fish to be caught includes dolphin, bonito, tuna, sea bass, wahoo, cobia and barracuda – just to name a few. Reel in a big one at the favorite spot of local anglers, the Mayport Jetties, located at the mouth of the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. There, join Capt. Dave Sipler Sport fishing for a day of inshore and offshore fishing, finding the hot spots for catching redfish, speckled trout and flounder.
Cast a line at the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier overlooking the ocean. The 1,300-foot concrete structure extends nearly a quarter mile into the sea, offering ample access to fishing, concessions and the spectacular ocean view. The hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Admission to fish is $4.00 or $1.00 to simply stroll the length of the structure and enjoy the scenery. Children age six and under are admitted at no charge.
Flounder and king mackerel become strong in May and usually last well into the summer. Guana River State Park has good surf fishing but also boasts a brackish lake noted for flounder and trout. And that’s just the tip of the hook when it comes to fishing in Northeast Florida.
But you won’t catch anything sitting down and reading this. Come to Jacksonville. Get out there, bait your hook and cast your line.
License To Fish
The law says anyone who takes, attempts to take or possesses marine fish for non-commercial purposes must have a license. However, you don’t need a license if you’re a Florida resident 65 years of age or older, under 16 years of age, fishing from a boat that has a valid recreational vessel saltwater fishing license or if you’re a Florida resident fishing from land or a structure fixed to the land. For saltwater fishing regulations in our area, contact the Florida Marine Patrol field office at (904) 270-2500.