Grand in influence and reputation, the town of Marineland encompasses the marine park in the northeast corner of Flagler County on the south side of Matanzas Bay and little else. The U.S. Census Bureau lists the town’s total area at 0.35 square miles and estimated the population at 16 in 2020. Yet, since its beginnings in the mid-1930s as the brainchild of three entrepreneurs, the entertainment/science-exploration park has captured people’s imagination worldwide. Its latest incarnation, the Marine Dolphin Adventure opened in 2006 and focuses on educating the public about marine life through interactive programs, school-group tours and a Behind the Seas Tour. Bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the west by the Matanzas River, Marineland gives residents and visitors the chance to observe marine wildlife along with the land’s inhabitants.
Things to do nearby
St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, lies just to the north along A1A. To the south of Marineland is The Hammock, a stretch of coast that features historical sites, nature preserves, residential areas and communities as well as businesses. Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway running along the western shore offers boating, fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
Trails for hiking and biking are also found on the island, and people can enjoy The River to Sea Preserve.
Mala Compra Plantation, established in the early 1800s, belonged to Joseph Menendez, the state’s first U.S. representative. Self- guided tours of the site are available. Nestled beside the historical plantation is Bing’s Landing, a county park featuring boat ramps, fishing supplies, a barbecue restaurant and picnic area. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park preserves 425 acres of coastal scenery between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River. Its eastern boundary offers one of the largest outcroppings of coquina rock on the Atlantic shore, and formal gardens established amid the hammock showcase blooming plants. In the southeastern tip of the county is Flagler Beach, established in the early 20th century. In addition to hotels, motels, inns and vacation rental homes, the area boasts campgrounds and a beachfront RV resort at Beverly Beach just north of Flagler Beach on A1A. For those who want to delve into area history, the Flagler Beach Historical Museum is open seven days a week, and its collections include bones from prehistoric times down to memorabilia from the Space Age.