If you’re a fan of the four-legged, the fin-tastic, and the feathery, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s where you can spot, snap, and even swim with animals in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.
More than 200 species call the area home. At Princess Place Preserve, use your eagle eyes to spot, well, eagles. The majestic bird, as well as the Barred Owl, the Great Blue Heron, and the Belted Kingfisher can be found in the park. Another hotspot for birding: Washington Oaks Gardens. Sharp-eyed watchers have seen everything from the Brown Pelican to the Yellow-Rumped Warbler at this beautiful locale.
The North Atlantic Right Whale
Listed as endangered since 1970, fewer than 350 right whales are estimated to be in existence today. Between January and April each year, the whales migrate to the warm waters of Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches to have their calves. Find an elevated spot on the beach for a potential glimpse at one of these rare mammals. Please be sure to observe all parking signage and “Dodge the Dunes,” as walking, driving, and parking on any grass or plants on the east side of A1A is prohibited. To learn more about sea dunes and their importance, click here.
We’re not shellfish—in fact, we enjoy sharing our love for these ancient creatures who visit our beaches each year. From May to October, thousands of female loggerheads, leatherbacks and other turtle species, come ashore in Florida to lay their eggs. Months later, the little hatchlings emerge and make their way to the water. A volunteer organization, the Flagler Turtle Patrol, monitors the nesting activity.
The Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Laboratory opened in 2015 to provide rehabilitation, education and research for sea turtle conservation in Northeast Florida. Schedule a private tour to learn more about the hospital and meet a current patient. Once healed, the turtles are returned to the ocean—and visitors are often invited to watch. Check the hospital’s Facebook page for an upcoming release event.
“Where can I see an alligator” is one of our most popular visitor questions. If you’re looking to spot one of these prehistoric-looking predators, then you’re in the right state. Over a million can be found in Florida’s swamps, rivers, and marshes. Here in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, Wadsworth Park is the go-to spot to see an alligator. Take a stroll on the elevated boardwalk to watch them swimming through the water. Just remember—these are wild animals, so always keep a safe distance.
With their cheeky grins and playful personalities, it’s hard not to love dolphins. And for many, swimming with them is high on the bucket list. Marineland Dolphin Adventure offers several ways to interact with dolphins. Caress a flippered friend during a dockside adventure or go big with the Royal Swim program, where you’ll be propelled through the water by two friendly dolphins. For 80 years, Marineland Dolphin Adventure has utilized interactive education, enhanced by on-site research, to inspire visitors to value and respect marine mammals and their environment.
Also on the bucket list for many? A horseback ride on the beach. Saddle up with Equestrian Adventures of Florida for a guided tour atop one of these well-trained creatures. Guide Jennifer Miko and one of her trusty steeds like King, Jolly, and Bourbon, will escort you across the sand for a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
We adore these gentle giants and you will, too. Just over 3,000 manatees frequent Florida’s coastal waters, rivers, and estuaries—where they can find plenty of sea grass and other vegetation to enjoy. Visitors love to watch them slowly glide through the water, propelled by their large, paddle-shaped tails. In Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, you’re more likely to see them in the summer, when the weather is warmer. A popular location is at Bing’s Landing. Catch a possible glimpse from the pier or rent a kayak from a local outfitter, like Tropical Kayaks, and put in at the park’s launch spot. A friendly reminder—manatees are protected by federal and state laws. Do not feed, water, touch, or otherwise disturb these marine mammals.
When you visit Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, please don’t forget to BYOD. That’s “Bring Your Own Dog” for those who are new to our pet-friendly paradise. When it comes to our canine companions, we roll out the red carpet with plenty of dog-approved beaches, accommodations, and restaurants. Visitors love watching pups (be it their own or a stranger’s) frolic on the cinnamon-colored sand and splash in the water. For more information on pet-friendly fun in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, click here.