The only remaining large-sized vehicle ferry in Florida, the St. Johns River Ferry continues to provide a valuable service for locals and tourists alike.
Located in the city of Jacksonville, less than 2 miles (3 km) from the mouth of the St. Johns River, the St. Johns River Ferry crosses the river between Mayport on the east shore and Ft. George Island on the west. There has been a ferry operating in the same location since 1874.
The current ferry is able to carry some 40 vehicles. It departs every half hour. Since the distance between docks is so short – under a mile (1.4 km) – there’s only one ferry operating each day. The ferry saves as much as 28 miles (45 km) of driving depending on the destination. On a typical day, the ferry can carry about 1000 vehicles total.
The ferry connects two parts of State Route A1A, which is the barrier island/beach access road along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Technically starting in the town of Callahan some 26 miles from the Atlantic, A1A hits the surf in Fernandina Beach near Ft. Clinch State Park. From there, it’s never more than a few miles from the ocean for the rest of its route. Not too far south from Fernandina, A1A arrives at the ferry. Once it crosses the St. Johns with the ferry, it runs unbroken all the way to Key West. That’s about 500 miles (805 km).
Located less than a mile away from the Mayport landing is the St. Johns River Light. While it’s on the property of Naval Station Mayport, it’s only about 100 feet away from a chain link fence, so it can be seen quite easily. You can find information about it here.
Interestingly, when heading north on A1A, the ferry travels south-west to get to Ft. George Island, effectively dropping you off further south then when you boarded it.