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Salt Run and the Matanzas River in Florida

Trip Overview

I started this trip pretty early and was on the water by 8:00 on a Saturday morning. I launched from one of the ramps in Anastasia Recreation Area. It was an easy launch and I was on my way in no time. It was pretty windy, but salt Run is fairly protected by Conch Island. I was only on the water a few minutes when a porpoise surfaces about 20 yards in front of me.

I headed toward St. Augustine. The tide was out, so there were a number of areas that were quite shallow. There were an incredible number of pelicans diving for fish all around me on this leg of the trip. I finally made it to the mouth of the Matanzas River (Intercoastal waterway), but right here is where there is a cut out to the Atlantic. As I rounded the point I got the full force of the wind and the incoming tide. It was quite choppy and a pretty bumpy run over to the Castillo San Marco. It was still pretty early so there weren't too many boats out as of yet.

Once I made it over to the west side of the river things calmed down quite a bit and I was able to paddle close to the castillo and then down town and under the Bridge of Lions. I was making good time so decided to continue heading south.

I kept on going, swinging out into the channel to avoid the shallow areas all the way to the next bridge south, Rt 312. Just before the bridge is the outlet of the san Sebastian River. I headed up this river and passed many dry docks and marinas and the more industrial side of the river. The river circles back north on the west side of St. Augustine and extends for a number of miles.

At about 11:00 I decided to turn around. I recognized the area and would have pulled off to eat at Theos, a good Greek restaurant had it been just a little later. The paddle back to the Matanzas was easy. Again many pelicans, but not too other wildlife.

However, when I hit the Matanzas the wind had picked up to about 25 mph and the tide was up. I decided to cross the river at the Rt. 312 bridge, since the river narrows a bit and then struggled up the east side of the river for the next two hours. The headwind was terrific and I had to paddle hard to make progress. Even when I got to the point marking the entrance to Salt Run I had great difficulty staying off the seawalls due to the wind. There were also many more boats out which caused significant cross wake, but also gave me a chance to see a great wooden ketch rigged schooner sailing in front of the castillo.

Once I got far enough around the point to be protected by Conch Island the going became much easier.

I enjoyed the trip, but the 2' chop was as much of a challenge as I had handled to date. I'd do this trip again and do even more exploring of San Sebastian, but I'd check to see what the wind conditions wee before I left.


Nice park with several picnicing and launch areas. There is also campgrounds. The site for the park is:


There was a $3.25 entrance fee for the park.


Take Rt 16 east from I 95 to St. Augustine. Turn right onto Rt. 1 and head south until the left turn for the Bridge of Lions. Cross the bridge and head south on A1A until Anastasia Recreational Area.


Sea Kayaking Florida & the Georgia Sea Islands by james Bannon

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip