A hidden gem, right near the beach, boutique shopping and four centuries of history, why not go there? If you are fortunate enough to find out about Amelia Island . . . it’s worth a visit. Last year, we found it by accident on our way home from Florida. This year, we planned a visit. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, this unspoiled barrier island is just two miles wide and 13 miles long.
With wide white beaches, sand dunes and the oldest lighthouse in Florida, it is a perfect setting to write your next book, paint your beach scenes or sketch the charming waterfront town that serves as an island hub.
Beachcombing is popular to walk barefoot and feel the cool sand between your toes, gathering shells and shark teeth. Endangered sea turtles are also partial to Amelia Island’s beaches and return every year to lay their eggs in protected nests on the island’s shores.
The 19th century well-preserved Fort Clinch and Park is not the only history to be discovered. With 4,000 years of natural and human history, Amelia Island is the only piece of land in the entire United States that has actually been under the rule of eight different flags, six of which are France, Spain, England, Mexico, Confederate and their own Patriots of Amelia Island. You’ll have to visit to find out more. Or, that pirates once roamed off Amelia Island shores.
We stay in Fernandina Beach on the northern half of Amelia Island. Honored by the National Trust for its historic preservation, and home to a 50-block Historic District. Fernandina Beach is a lively town that is popularly described as a “tropical Mayberry.”
We saw golfers challenged by the oceanfront holes and marsh-view greens. The charm of this city is art-inspiring. We have two favorite places to stay, both Marriott, Residence Inn where you can eat in and have a free breakfast or order the best pizza ever from Towne Pizza, or the Ritz Carlton, depending on your mood and wallet . . . country informal or high-brow formal. Jeans are acceptable everywhere!