Located in St. Johns and Flagler, the Matanzas River is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary near Anastasia Island. The breathtaking river is 23 miles long and runs from St. Augustine Inlet south to Anastasia Island. The St. Augustine entrance was the main entrance to the city and the city’s oldest port. In historic times, the southern portion of the river was considered the ‘backdoor’ to St. Augustine. Control of the river was thought to be strategically necessary for this early Spanish colony. Fort Matanzas was built in the 18th century by Spanish engineers to control access to the river’s inlet. The Matanzas River is the tenth oldest surviving European place-name in the United States.
Today the river supports an extensive tidal march habitat. There have been many conversation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystem. There is a lot of wildlife in and along the Matanzas river including eagles, ospreys, wood storks, dolphins, manatees, egrets and turtles. The river is a great place to go fishing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.