Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

VIDEO: Exploring NE Florida's Castaway Island Preserve

Sean Lahav
UNF's Environmental Center
Castaway Island Preserve

WJCT presents a collaboration between the University of North Florida's Environmental Center and Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida on 19 short videos showcasing the city, state and national parks of the First Coast, produced by Sean Lahav, a project leader in the environmental leadership program.

Castaway Island Preserve, 2885 San Pablo Rd S

In the midst of Jacksonville’s urban sprawl, Castaway Island Preserve features an expanse of woods and marshes, hugging the estuary of the San Pablo River. The park features wildlife and amenities for anglers, bikers, hikers, kayakers and nature lovers. 


Castaway Island Preserve stretches over roughly 200 acres of protected coastal habitats. Hugging the San Pablo River and its estuary, the area’s woods of pine, cedar and myrtle, and salt marshes bustle with wildlife — from tricolor herons to wood storks to ibises to hawks to gopher tortoises to opossums to armadillos.

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

The nature trail at the preserve is marked with the footprints of disparate critters – a detail that particularly appeals to playful children.


  • A theater-style education center runs scheduled programs.
  • A canoe launch is located near the end of the park’s main road.
  • An observation deck allows for expansive vistas of the Intracostal Waterway.
  • A picnic area with 10 tables and grills are located near the nature center.
  • The preserve’s bike trail connects to a greater network of trails.


  • Castaway Island Preserve is a great spot for leisure strolls, hikes, nature sighting as well as fishing.
  • The park carries ample opportunities for a variety of outdoor sports activities, including biking, canoeing and kayaking.


  • The preserve features a one-mile interpretive nature boardwalk, painted with animal tracks that zip from one fun marker to another. This makes Castaway Island Preserve an ideal spot for young adventurers.
  • Several less-beaten paths jut off the main trail and into the heart of the preserve.


Castaway Island Preserve has a 50-spot parking lot. Admission is free of charge.


Close to the beaches, Castaway Island Preserve abuts San Pablo Road South.


An easy commute via Beach Boulevard: Head east on Beach Boulevard. Turn left onto San Pablo Road. Follow the road for less than a mile and Castaway Island Reserve will emerge on the right.   

Dima Vitanova can be reached at and Vince Kong can be reached at