Atlantic Coast Shoreline
Looking for 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). A new oceanfront restaurant/bar is opening in 2017 at Main Beach (replacing old timer, Sandy Bottoms). Longtime resident of Main Beach enjoyed by generations, Fernandina’s Putt-Putt, has been operating mini-golf oceanfront for more than 50 years (open seasonally serving burgers, milk shakes, ice cream, soft drinks). Main Beach has four lifeguard towers during the summer season with Ocean Rescue personnel Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
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 BEACHIn 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, turn onto Gregg Street from First Coast Highway/A1A). 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.
“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.), will 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.
FORT CLINCH STATE PARKFort 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 per person. Note that the half-mile-long fishing pier that was damaged during hurricane Matthew in October 2016 is permanently closed and will reportedly be torn down in 2017. When state funding is allotted, 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 the Amelia Island State Park located near the southend bridge, First Coast Highway/A1A) with over 200 acres of beachfront and forest, a wonderful natural environment. This area of Amelia Island is a favorite spot of local fishermen who cast from the shore and from the George Crady dedicated fishing bridge at this location. This Florida state park allows horseback riding on the beach.
Amelia Island State Park is open daily (admission $2 per person), but note there are no lifeguard towers in this park, no restrooms along the beachfront and dogs are not allowed on the beach. There is limited access to this park without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. 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. 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.” Note that 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.
Beware Potential Ocean 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 at the city and county beach parks on Amelia Island. Summer season lifeguard hours are full time daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend (week days from 11 am to 5 pm and weekends from 10 am to 5 pm).
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.
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 in 2016 providing a long mat to cross the softest sand for closest ocean access. BEACH WHEELCHAIRS: The City of Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department has 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.
DON’T DISTURB WILDLIFE
Amelia Island’s beaches are critical habitat and nesting areas for birds and 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. There’s no glass allowed on Amelia Island’s beaches. Possession of any open container holding an alcoholic beverage is prohibited. Violations are punishable by a fine and/or incarceration.
DOG LEASH LAW
Dogs must be under a leash at all times at the city and county beaches and littering is prohibited. Bring doggie bags and pick up after pets. Owners not complying can get an expensive ticket. Dogs are not allowed on the beach within state parks — Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Park.