Summer is the perfect time for a weekend getaway. Living in Georgia we are spoiled with awesome places for quick beach trip getaways. Even if you do not live in the South, Amelia Island in Northeast Florida is an amazing place to check out! So grab your sunscreen and bathing suit and if you have kids grab about a million more things and let's go!
Amelia Island is the southernmost barrier island in a cluster that stretches from South Carolina to Florida. Fernandina Beach is a gorgeous stretch of coast flanked with enormous sand dunes that house the islands native gopher tortoises. Fernandina is an explorers paradise of native rabbits, raccoons, tortoises, blue crabs and with an array of boisterous birds one will never get board of the visual buffet of wildlife.
Now I was warned by many that the Atlantic was dark, cold and choppy....What we experienced was completely different. The water in late June was absolutly the most perfect temperature. Not only was it clear but the sand (which my 18 month old loved and ate!) was some of the most squishy soft perfect sand I have ever felt, and made the best sand castles ever.
What I loved most about Fernandina Beach was the huge stretch of shallow water beach. My girls spent hours running around the waves and small tide pools looking at ocean creatures. The shelling was bountiful! In a range of colors too many to name. We collected more than we could carry in our buckets.
The pirate history on Amelia Island invokes a sense of adventure. At one point in history seeing 300 plus vessels anchored in Amelia's harbor was a regular sight.
However you relax there is something for everyone. With golf, horseback riding on the beach (looked amazing complete with white horses), biking or hiking the many island trails you are sure to find some serenity. The trails provide a truly awesome view of the live oak trees that make Florida great and mysterious all at once. While we did not have the time Blackrock Beach in Big Talbot Island State Park offers a truly unique experience complete with white sand and large black "Hawaiian lava-like" rocks.
Amelia Island does have a small downtown area in the historic district with local shops and restaurants. Some restaurants are housed in really colorful Bed and Breakfasts and some are beach shacks serving up some local catch. However, being with the kids we were happily restricted to serious beaching and swimming with the hope of early sleeping angels.
After dark however grab yourself a Planter's Punch and watch the lights on the beach. The flicker of flashlights can be seen from the turtle hunters. The first night my husband and I were totally confused at the small flash of many lights on the sand. Come to find out that from May thru October is when sea turtles hatch their young along Florida's coastlines. Many eager tourists are out to spy these giants onshore make their nightly pilgrimage to foster the young eggs buried in the sand.