ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- By the St. Augustine Pier there is a farmers market, bocce ball courts and Splash Park for the Kids, but there is no beach access, at least for now.
Brianna Morris and her group of friends traveled from Green Cove Springs Wednesday just to go to the beach by the pier. "I was going to come out on the beach for the first time this year," Morris said.
But she and her friends found the "closed" sign posted by the walkways leading to the beach. Many beachgoers, after lugging all of their beach gear from the car, saw the same signs.
One after another, they walked up to the signs, stopped, pondered, and then looked out.
Many looked up and said, "How come they closed the beach area?" or "How do I get to the beach now?"
Billy Zeits is the manager for St. Johns County beaches. He explained "at high tide there is no beach."
In fact, the waves hit the rocks at the seawall.
The county chose to block the walkways to the beach by the St. Augustine Beach pier. "Due to wave action and the rocks that are there, we were unable to maintain a safe pedestrian access to this stretch of beach," Zeits explained.
Access to the beach by the pier has actually been closed since November. But now that spring break is here, people are starting to take notice because they want to get to the sand.
During low tide, when there is beach to be on, some people ignore the signs and crawl under the railings. Some even climb down the slippery, uneven rocks.
Jeremy Robshaw with St. Johns County Fire Rescue, which includes the beach patrol, said it can be hazardous to be on the beach by the pier.
"Once people get down, if they do manage to do that safely, it's getting back up [that can be tricky] as the tides change," Robshaw explained. "If you are down there and get stuck, you can potentially get injured that way."
The "closed" sign is expected to be removed around May or June. "It will re-open because there's a beach re-nourishment project that's going on," Zeits said.
Several tons of sand is being dumped onto St. Augustine Beach. It will make for a bigger beach. Once complete, beachgoers won't even need the stairways.
But right now, people are leaving the beach by the pier a little disappointed.
Morris and her friends tried to make the best of it, saying they have fun with each other whatever they do.
Then they left, in search of another beach access point.
Click this link to get a list and a map of many other beach access points in St. Johns County.
First Coast News