By enjoyFloridaBeaches.com Staff July 18, 2017
Vilano Beach is located north of downtown St. Augustine and Matanzas Inlet, between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. This laidback beach community has a small-town feel, partially because its population hovers just over 2,500. Yet, it is one of Florida’s best beach destinations for relaxation, eco-adventures, beach activities, and water sports.
Beach & Activities
Vilano Beach is a nature lover’s paradise, and perfect for swimming, sunbathing, hiking along the coast and viewing wildlife, dolphin watching, fishing, and water sports.
Surfing and skimboarding are particularly popular in Vilano Beach, because of the exceptional waves resulting from a steep drop-off in the Atlantic, and a strong current due to its location near Matanzas Inlet.
So, the National Skimboarders Championship takes place in Vilano Beach every August, when skimboarders travel long distances to compete over the weekend.
Sunsets and sunrises alike are spectacular in Vilano Beach, which is slightly unusual for an Atlantic beach community. Beautiful sunrises are witnessed most every day, as the sun comes up and glistens over the Atlantic. And just as beautiful, the sun sets over the Intracoastal Waterway, with St. Augustine in the distant background.
To celebrate the sunsets, Vilano Beach has a “Sunset Celebration” every first Saturday of the month at the Vilano Beach Pier. The festive atmosphere of this beach community is accentuated during the celebration by the live music, and dozens of market vendors that include local arts and crafts.
Though the beach is the prominent attraction in Vilano Beach, there are interesting things to do off the beach, besides the hundreds of things to do in nearby St. Augustine.
Castle Otttis is located off A1A on 3rd Street in Vilano Beach. This large stone castle has unique decorations and masonry that offer a fascinating experience, in part because of the castle’s intricate detailing and a maze of rooms. The Castle is available to academic and spiritual groups by appointment, as well as for weddings.
Vilano Beach Pier, renovated in 2016 / 2017, is located at the western end of Vilano Road and extends into the Matanzas River. The pier is free to the public and is a great place to fish, catch the sunset as it goes down behind St. Augustine, and enjoy one of the many events at the pier.
The Vilano Beach Pavilion, located at the eastern end of Vilano Road, is an awesome place to gather with family and friends while enjoying the covered benches for shade, and a great place to host your own private events for a nominal rental fee.
Dining & Shopping
There is a wide range of unique shopping and dining opportunities in Vilano Beach.
The Vilano Beach Town Center is the main hub for businesses in the community, serving as a water-front business destination stretching from the Intercoastal Waterway to the Atlantic. This walkable, half-mile stretch extends from an area that is north and south of the Vilano Beach Pier, eastward to businesses such as Publix and OceanView Lodge near the Atlantic Ocean.
Excellent eateries are also available in Vilano Beach, including Casa Benedetto’s Ristorante, Beaches at Vilano, Cap's on the Water, Aunt Kate's, and 180 Vilano Grill.
Boating & Marinas
Boating is a popular activity in Vilano Beach, mostly because of easy access to the Intercostal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The public boat ramp provides a good place to launch boats, and local marinas provide a range of services that include boat storage and mooring services.
St. Augustine Boating Club is also located in Vilano Beach, which has banquet facilities for 100 people, and hosts numerous events throughout the year.
There are several outstanding options for accommodations in Vilano Beach, many of which are in the Vilano Beach Town Center, and others that are along the coast.
Hampton Inn & Suites in Vilano Beach is a national brand hotel, located near the Vilano Beach Oceanfront Park, with great amenities and facilities to host events. Other great options include The Saint Augustine Beach House that features beach views of the Atlantic Coast, Ocean Sands Beach Inn, and Vilano Beach Garden Inn.
Vacation rentals in Vilano Beach also offer a variety of amenities at various price points, including ocean views.
It’s simple to have your weddings on the beach in Vilano Beach. For a nominal permit fee, you can enjoy your special day with family and friends on one of the premier beaches of Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Local wedding planners, like Sun and Sea Weddings, can make all the arrangements to tie the knot on the beach. Area vendors are ready to supply everything you need, including caterers, bakeries, florists, musicians, and more.
Many of the hotels and restaurants are excellent venues for weddings and receptions. The Hampton Inn & Suites in Vilano Beach hosts beach weddings, vow renewal, and commitment ceremonies. And restaurants, such as The Reef Restaurant, and Aunt Kate’s, provide an ideal waterfront location along with quality cuisine and a welcoming atmosphere for large and small groups.
Couples searching for a one-of-a-kind venue should consider the Castle Otttis. Weddings at the castle are beautifully romantic, in a location that is full of historical ambiance and the natural light photographers love, all at an affordable price.