Island Hopping: Amelia, Cumberland, Talbot Islands

Big Talbot Island's Boneyard Beach
Big Talbot Island’s Boneyard Beach

It’s easy to island hop around the Amelia Island area. LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! Amelia Island is uniquely situated, so visitors and residents alike can easily explore several barrier islands, a snug cluster of logistical ease.

Slightly north of Amelia is Cumberland Island, GA (a protected National Seashore), and to the south is Big Talbot and Little Talbot Islands (Florida State Parks). Also, Fort George Island is an added bonus, just 3 miles south of Little Talbot Island, home to the oldest surviving plantation house in Florida, the Kingsley Plantation (and excellent attraction to visit). The Florida island state parks to the south of Amelia are located off Heckscher Drive (the only road once crossing the bridge over the Nassau Sound, leading on/off Amelia Island’s southend).

It's easy to island hop in northeast Florida. Barrier Islands: Cumberland, Amelia, Big Talbot, Little Talbot
It’s easy to island hop in northeast Florida. Barrier Islands: Cumberland, Amelia, Big Talbot, Little Talbot

For those unfamiliar with the area, Little Talbot Island offers over five miles of lovely beachfront. This island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Hike through maritime forest, see magnificent sand dunes, and enjoy undisturbed salt marsh on the western side of the island. The park’s natural habitat is rich with coastal wildlife. There’s potential opportunity to glimpse a large variety of native and migratory birds. Little Talbot has a campground (book campsites online via Reserve America). Frequent coastal nature education programs are offered by park rangers, call Little Talbot Island State Park at 904-251-2320.

Big Talbot Island is known for its unique “Boneyard Beach.” This visually interesting shoreline is the resting place of dead trees that have been weathered into natural works of art — a photographer’s fantasy land. The salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore transform the Big Talbot Island beach into an intriguing place to explore with camera in hand. The Florida Park Service warns that the use of a metal detector is prohibited in the park and removal of driftwood or artifacts from the park is also prohibited.

Aerial Views of Waterways, Islands of Northeast Florida

About Visting Cumberland Island, Georgia

According to the National Parks Service, Cumberland Island, Georgia is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. Cumberland Island has one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the United States and one of the largest wilderness areas in a National Seashore on the east coast. Daily visitors are limited to 300 per day (this is a 17.5 mile long island — it’s bigger than Amelia Island).

You really have to see Cumberland in person to fully comprehend this island’s beauty and serenity.

Biking Grand Avenue Through Maritime Forest, Cumberland Island
Biking Grand Avenue Through Maritime Forest, Cumberland Island

If you have the time, devote a full day just for Cumberland Island, one of the best local experiences available for nature lovers (and history buffs). However, a trip to Cumberland is more suitable for those who can easily walk around to explore (or able to ride a bicycle) and less suitable for fragile seniors and pre-school children (under 6). Be sure to pack (and carry around) your own food and drinks, as well as sunscreen and insect repellent (no public vehicles, no stores, no restaurants on Cumberland Island). There are some water fountains available. It’s “carry on, carry off” as well — there are no trash cans for daily visitors, so empty drink containers, sandwich and snack wrappings, etc., must be packed up and taken off the island with you.

Cumberland Island, Georgia is located just off Amelia Island’s northern tip. (You can clearly see this island across the Cumberland Sound from Amelia Island’s Fort Clinch State Park — another wonderful, natural park to explore here.) However, to catch Cumberland’s Park Service ferry that departs from St. Marys, Ga, drive north on I-95 from the Amelia Island area and take the St. Marys exit (about a 35 minute drive from Amelia Island). Get further Cumberland Island info by calling 912-882-4336. For ferry schedule information and ferry reservations, call 912-882-4335. Read more about Cumberland Island, see photo gallery.

About Amelia Island eZine

Highlights of this Florida sea island at the Georgia border and its Victorian-era riverfront city, Fernandina Beach. Tweets from the beach @FLORIDA32034. Feedback or questions? eMail: contact@AmeliaIslandLiving.com