Jacksonville - Ponte Vedra Beach: Basics


Introduction

It's been called the best place to live in Florida (Money Magazine, 2005), and if you golf, play tennis or can stand a day or two at the spa – you'll agree. Ponte Vedra Beach is far from 'the action' and that's how its residents like it – a laid-back, beautiful corner of the coast where a relaxing day starts on the beach, finds time for golf and ends at the spa (or the bar?).

Ponte Vedra's feel and flavor

Orient yourself starting from the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and go from there. This is a very quiet and residential beach town; put Daytona Beach in mind and then conjure the exact opposite. PVB recognizes it has a good thing and keeps it quiet – and, to an extent, fairly locked up. Its gorgeous beaches are harder to access than elsewhere along the coast but persistence (to find parking) pays off.

Although busier through snowbird season, this well-to-do enclave remains very welcoming to families – the town's median age is early 40s and so its restaurants offer a respectable mix of grown-up ambiance and kids menus with high chairs. Ponte Vedra's only logistical peculiarity is that you'll require a car – this spread-out town is beautiful but not at all walkable.

Jacksonville 25 miles 30 minutes
St. Augustine 30 miles 35-45 minutes
Palm Coast 50 miles 75 minutes
Orlando 130 miles 2hrs 30minutes

* Using shortest route available, not necessarily the most scenic

The 1942 landing of a German U-boat is Ponte Vedra's dubious claim to fame. Four spies came ashore on PVB, before walking north to Jacksonville Beach and eventually making it to Cincinnati and Chicago. The PVB Chamber paints the whole story of Operation Pastorius – now a strange local quirk in WWII history.

  • What to expect: As a visitor to Ponte Vedra Beach, gaining access to the beach is a small victory worthy of an ice cream at the very least. Once you've arrived and decamped you'll appreciate why – you'll have gorgeous stretches of sand to yourself, with none of the tourist trappings found elsewhere.
  • Sand: Ponte Vedra Beach's sand has two aspects you'll like. On top, it's the soft, white stuff you want. An inch or so underneath, find a layer of crushed shells which (following high tide) are firm enough to walk, run or ride a bike on.
  • Shells and sharks' teeth: Those in-the-know insist you look at low tide, far from the parking area. Apparently that's the sweet spot – especially after a storm! For sharks' teeth tours.
  • Safety: When swimming in the ocean, always take caution against rip tides. Check the day's conditions using the helpful links on page 7. Ponte Vedra Beach has a peculiarly steep slope, invisible at high tide, and gets deep very quickly.

Beach access and parking

They haven't made it easy in PVB – but it's worth the extra effort. This map shows the public rights of way.

BEST BEACH SPOT: MICKLER'S LANDING

  • Pronounced: Mike-ler's
  • Address: 1112 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • GPS: 30.161879, -81.357740
  • Getting there: There's no sign, so you'll feel like a local once you hit the public parking just off Ponte Vedra Blvd. and head down the wooden boardwalk (visible on Google Maps' Satellite view if you have trouble).
  • Parking: Free
  • Sunset: Get a little romantic, this is an absolute favorite spot for a well-timed beach walk.
  • Facilities: Simple but clean bathrooms and outdoor showers. The wooden walkway is wheelchair accessible.