Content Produced in Partnership with Amelia Island CVB
Forget everything you think you know about Florida's hot spots. What we’re about to share has no pulsating nightclubs, no mouse ears, and, most importantly, no lines. But just because the Magic Kingdom is nowhere in sight doesn’t mean this place is anything short of spellbinding. Let us introduce you to Florida’s best-kept secret: Amelia Island.
"Easy to reach but hard to forget" perfectly sums up the Sunshine State's only barrier island. We're talking about birds chirping, verdant marshes, lush tree cover, regal plantation houses, and the sun reflecting off the crystal water. Altogether, it's a getaway that feels miles away, yet is just a short jaunt from the mainland. With more than 40 different public beach access points, you could spend an entire month exploring each stretch of sand and still never tire of the scenery. Whether you’re in search of a luxe getaway with a loved one or have the whole family in tow, there’s no shortage of adventures to be found on Amelia Island. But that's just one of the reasons it promises to be a magical, memorable trip. Here are a few more:
You’ll Never Be Up the Creek Without a Paddle
One of the best ways to get the lay of the land is to get off the land and kayak the marshland. Naturalist led-tours take you through inland waters, the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Marys River. For early risers, paddle through the salt marsh at sunrise with a guide at Amelia Island Nature Center. All the areas are teeming with wildlife, including egrets, herons, osprey, hawks, and even the majestic Peregrine falcon. If you prefer a more unique boating opportunity, try a motor-powered backwater vessel or bring the whole crew on an 18-seater canoe.
You Can Get By on Pedal Power
Amelia Island is considered one of the best places to bike in all of Florida. So, it should come as no surprise that two wheels is the preferred method of transportation along the 13 miles of pristine coastline. Whether it’s more your style to roll around on a fat tired beachcomber, ride part of the east coast scenic byway that stretches all the way from Florida to Maine, or soak up the history at the Civil War era Fort Clinch State Park, there’s a trail and a route for the casual rider to the extreme cyclist. No worries about looking far for a bike either. Rental shops are available throughout the island.
Or Ride Off Into the Sunset
If you’ve ever dreamed of riding off into the sunset atop a trusty steed, Amelia Island is one of few destinations in the country to offer horseback riding along the beach. Available year-round, the gentle animals are used to walking or trotting along the sandy shores but have been known to splash around when the mood strikes. Don't forget your camera! This experience is truly Instagram worthy.
It’s a Great Place Find Your Balance
If you’re working on perfecting your headstand, this little corner of Florida is exactly where to try it. SUP Yoga is where your mat meets the sea — literally. The calm water of the Atlantic is the ideal environment for challenging your body and it's also the perfect setting to let all your worries drift away. Namaste, friends.
Try a Magnificent Flying Machine in the Sky
We’ve told you how to explore by land and sea, so it’s only fitting you get to know Amelia Island from the sky, as well. If you’ve never been hang gliding, hold on tight and get ready for the ultimate adrenaline rush. Likely the closest you’ll ever get to feeling like a bird, Hang Glide USA offers introductory soaring lessons, beach tours or nature cruises.
Get to Know the Locals
Amelia Island is an ecotourist paradise. Beyond the magnificent greenery, you may stumble upon sea turtle nesting in the spring so keep your eyes peeled for shells and hatchlings. For more exotic animal encounters, the White Oak Conservation is a 10,000-acre sanctuary where you can interact with rare species like rhinoceros, cheetah, antelope, and okapi (a giraffe relative) on a safari-style tour.
How to Do It
If you’re wondering how to get to this paradise, two bridges connect the island to the Florida mainland. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville International Airport is less than 30 minutes away (with plenty of direct flights). Of course, this wouldn’t be a killer getaway without a little R&R, right? Sweat it out by day on the sunny beaches before pampering yourself at one of the world-class spas at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island or the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, there are tons of satiable seafood restaurants to indulge in (might we suggest planning your trip around the spring Shrimp Festival?) making it an ideal getaway for just about anyone. When you're ready to rest your head, you can choose from a handful of Victorian B&Bs in the charming historic downtown, beach-front boutique properties at Fernandina, or even camp at Fort Clinch State Park.