Fort Matanzas National Monument | PARK AT A GLANCE

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument


Fort Matanzas National Monument is located just south of St. Augustine, Florida, and is one of two Spanish-era forts in the city, the other being Castillo de San Marcos in the heart of St. Augustine. The fort was built by the Spanish in the 1740s to guard the inlet to the Matanzas River, which led all the way to St. Augustine. During the course of its history, it changed hands many times, from Spanish, to British, back to Spanish, and finally to American. By the end of the 1700s, the fort had been abandoned and was in ruins. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge created the Fort Matanzas National Monument.

The Fort Matanzas National Monument consists of a Visitor Center, picnic area, nature trail, and the fort itself. The fort is situated on Rattlesnake Island, which is on the opposite side of the Matanzas River from the Visitor Center (which is on Anastasia Island), so you need a shuttle boat to get there. The ride is free, but you do need a ticket. These are obtained at the Visitor Center.

Swimming is allowed on the beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean side and the Matanzas River side of National Park Service property on Anastasia Island. Fishing is also allowed, subject to Florida fishing regulations. The interior areas of federal property on Anastasia Island are closed to the public, so it’s pretty much the shoreline areas that are open. 

Fishing on the Matanzas River along the shore of Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fishing on the Matanzas River along the shore of Fort Matanzas National Monument

All areas of Rattlesnake Island are open to the public, but the only access to the island is on a tour of Fort Matanzas via the National Park Service shuttle boat, and the tour is too short for any exploration of the island. Visitors mainly stick to the fort area before returning to Anastasia Island by the shuttle.

Allow two hours at most for your visit to Fort Matanzas, not including time to picnic, swim, fish, or having to wait extended times due to tours delayed by the weather.


Park grounds and Visitor Center are open daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days, from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. The parking lot near the Visitor Center is locked at closing time, and any vehicles remaining will be locked in until the next morning.

A 35-passenger ferry takes visitors to the fort. Tours are typically held Wednesdays through Sundays at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM. However, times can always change, so be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Fort Matanzas National Monument.

The park is a day use park, thus there is no camping.


There is no charge to enter Fort Matanzas National Monument or for the ferry to the fort. However, despite being free you still need a ticket. Get these at the Visitor Center. Donations are always welcome.


Visitor Center
allow 15 minutes

Fort Tour
allow 1 hour

Nature Trail
allow 30-45 minutes

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Last updated on April 17, 2022
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