Fort Matanzas

Fort Matanzas National Monument is 9 miles south of St. Augustine Beach. It is located on Highway A1A on Anastasia Island. The fort, on Rattlesnake Island may only be visited by ranger-led groups. Docking of private vessels or offloading of passengers is prohibited.
  • Park hours are 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily except December 25.
  • Visitor Center hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily, when staffing allows.
  • Ferry operation is 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily, weather permitting. Free. First come, first served.
  • No admission fee.
  • The ferry and the fort are NOT wheelchair accessible. The viewing dock, visitor center, restrooms and .6 mile boardwalk nature walk are.

Fort Matanzas National Monument
Highway A1A South
(904) 471-0116


Matanzas Inlet on Anastasia Island South of St. Augustine Beach was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history.

The massacre of French soldiers at the inlet to the south of St. Augustine in 1565 was Spain's opening move in establishing a colony in Florida. Hiding most of his soldiers behind a dune, Menendez ferried the French ten at a time across the inlet. Hands bound, they began marching toward St. Augustine but when they reached a line Menendez had drawn in the sand, the Spanish soldiers fell on them with sword and pike.

Two weeks later the grim sequence of events was repeated when Timucuans reported more men to the south. From that time on, the inlet was called Matanzas, the Spanish word for "slaughters."

In 1740, troops from the British colony of Georgia blockaded St. Augustine Inlet and began a 39-day siege of the town. Spanish vessels managed to evade the blockade and re-supply the town at the onset of the hurricane season. The British then returned to Georgia, while the Spanish began construction of a coquina fort, 50 feet on each side with a 30 foot tower. Five guns could reach the Inlet (1/2 mile away).

In 1742, with the fort near completion, 12 British ships arrived off the inlet. The fort's cannon fire drove off the invaders.

The fort was occupied by the British after the first Treaty of Paris (1763) and then again by the Spanish after a 2nd Treaty of Paris (1784). When Florida was transferred to the United States in 1819, the fort was badly deteriorated and was never occupied again.
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