“Carry On, Carry Off” Rule
Per local beach ordinance, nothing should be left on the city and county beachfront after 8 pm. Any beach gear left behind (chairs, umbrellas, tents, beach shelters, towels, buckets, boogie boards, etc.), can be picked up nightly by patrols and discarded. Please follow the “carry on, carry off” rule or risk losing your stuff. Each morning, it’s OK to place beach gear at the oceanfront starting at 6 am.
Atlantic Coast Shoreline
Looking for an Amelia Island beach access with a few concessions and activities? Then head to Main Beach Park (located at Atlantic and South Fletcher Avenue).
Main Beach Park offers public restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, barbecues, gazebos, volleyball courts and children’s playground. Stroll the public beach boardwalk (free beach parking at large lot). Enjoyed by generations at Main Beach is Fernandina’s Putt-Putt. This mini-golf location oceanfront has been here for more than 60 years (open seasonally). The Sandbar and Kitchen is a restaurant/bar located oceanfront. A new restaurant is under construction (as of June 2018) near Main Beach, Salt Life Food Shack, across from Putt Putt, estimated to open late summer/early fall. Main Beach has four lifeguard towers during the summer season with Ocean Rescue personnel Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Handicap Beach Access
The easiest access to the beach for wheelchairs, strollers and walkers is at the Main Beach Park boardwalk where a “Mobi-Mat” was installed providing a long mat to cross the softest sand for closer ocean access. BEACH WHEELCHAIRS: The City of Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department also offers two (2) beach wheelchairs available for reservation. “A refundable deposit of $50 per chair and copy/imprint of a major credit card and driver’s license are required.” Call Atlantic Recreation Center at 904-310-3350.
PETER’S POINT PARK, AMELIA ISLAND
Peter’s Point on South Fletcher Avenue (Nassau County, Florida) offers large parking area, restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables and barbeques. For cyclists, the Amelia Island Trail, a 6.2 mile path for biking and hiking, is available from Peter’s Point. This park’s beachfront has four lifeguard towers with Ocean Rescue personnel daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
SEASIDE PARK, FERNANDINA BEACH
In between Main Beach Park toward the north end of Amelia Island, and Peter’s Point toward the southend of the island, is Seaside Park near Sliders (at the roundabout of South Fletcher Avenue and Sadler Road). There is a smaller public parking lot at Seaside Park (free) with dune walkovers and public restrooms. Sliders located at Seaside Park is an oceanfront restaurant with outdoor tiki bar and often has live entertainment. Across the street near the roundabout is a beach bike and gear rental shop. Seaside Park has lifeguard towers with Ocean Rescue personnel daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
BURNEY PARK AT AMERICAN BEACH
Burney Park is located on Amelia Island’s southend in between Summer Beach and Omni Amelia Island Plantation (beach access #109). Beach park offers restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables and lifeguard towers from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Historic American Beach was a vacation spot for wealthy African Americans back when beaches in America were segregated. The founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company purchased American Beach back around the Great Depression. Today, American Beach is the first stop on the Florida Black Heritage Trail, with approximately 50 homes remaining from the 1940s and 1950s.
FORT CLINCH STATE PARK
Fort Clinch offers over 1,400 acres, historic fort tours, picnic area with playground equipment, hiking and biking trails and campground. The entry fee is $4 for one driver, $6 per vehicle (2 to 8 people), and $2 per person if pedaling into the park on a bicycle. Fort Clinch State Park is open daily from 8 am until sunset. While Fort Clinch offers beautiful beachfront, note that there are no lifeguard towers within this state park and dogs are not allowed on the beach. Tour the historic fort itself for an additional $2.50 per person. Note that the half-mile-long fishing pier that was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was removed. When funding becomes available, a new pier will be built, according to the state park’s 10-year management plan. The Fort Clinch entrance is located at 2601 Atlantic Avenue, near the South Fletcher Avenue intersection (close to Main Beach Park in Fernandina Beach). For more information call Fort Clinch State Park at (904)277-7274.
AMELIA ISLAND STATE PARK
At the southern tip of the island is Amelia Island State Park located near the southend bridge (First Coast Highway/A1A). Realize that there is limited access to this park without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle (it’s a very long walk along the Nassau Sound shoreline to round the tip to access the Atlantic Coast beachfront). The are no restrooms along the beachfront, dogs are not allowed on the beach within the state park, and there are NO LIFEGUARD TOWERS. Other public county and city beach parks on Amelia Island are much more suitable for beachgoers seeking to spend a day at the beach, soak up the sun and swim. The state park is a favorite spot of fishermen who cast from the shore along the Nassau Sound and Atlantic Ocean (and fish from the George Crady dedicated fishing bridge next to this location).
Amelia Island State Park is open daily (admission $2 per person). Much of Amelia Island State Park is designated a “Critical Wildlife Area,” and is a nesting ground for Least Terns, and a site on the “Great Florida Birding Trail.” Large areas of Amelia Island State Park are off limits during bird nesting season (“closure dates April 1- Sept. 1st”). Please use caution when in the park and avoid clearly marked bird nesting areas. Kelly Seahorse Ranch is located at Amelia Island State Park with daily horseback riding tours on the beach.
Beware Potential Rip Currents
When at the beach, pay careful attention to signs and flags warning ocean conditions (i.e. red flag, yellow flag, purple flag). You will never see a green flag flying at the coast, since the ocean is inherently dangerous. If you want to go into the sea, enter the water near lifeguard stations. Lifeguards are seasonally stationed only at the city and county beach parks on Amelia Island (not the state parks). Summer season lifeguard hours are daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Sometimes dangerous rip currents are present and swimmers can drown, read “Rip Currents Take Lives in Northeast Florida.” Information about rip currents are posted at the beaches, also see more at the city of Fernandina’s website.
DON’T DISTURB WILDLIFE
Amelia Island’s beaches are critical habitat and nesting areas for birds and sea turtles. Please note signs posted and roped off areas. Respect boundaries and try not to disturb nesting wildlife. If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, gopher tortoise (or see anyone disturbing turtles or shorebirds), call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 24-hour Wildlife Alert number 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), call #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone, or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
BEACH RULES — IT’S NOT BYOB
Don’t bring alcohol to Amelia Island’s beaches. Violations are punishable by a fine and/or incarceration. No glass is allowed on Amelia Island’s beaches. Possession of any open container holding an alcoholic beverage is prohibited.
DOG LEASH LAW
Dogs must be under a leash at all times at the city and county beaches and littering is prohibited. Please bring doggie bags and pick up after pets! Owners not complying can get an expensive ticket, both for having a dog off the leash and for not scooping. Dogs are NOT ALLOWED on the beach at Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Park.