Memorial Day weekend kicks off Amelia Island’s busy summer beach season. Starting this weekend, full-time ocean rescue lifeguards will once again be on duty 7 days a week for the summer of 2019 (through Labor Day weekend).
Lifeguard stations/chairs are located at North Beach Park, Main Beach Park, Jasmine Street, Seaside Park, Peters Point, Scott Road, and American Beach.
Stopping by Fernandina’s Seaside Park at Sadler Road this afternoon, the seaside scene was a typical one. A red truck was stuck in the sand at the beach access entrance next to Sliders. As far as vehicles getting stuck at this particular beach access, the same thing plays out over and over again, like a scene in the movie Groundhog Day. And it’s been going on for generations.
There’s a slim chance of snagging a parking space at the small Seaside Park lot adjacent to the beach at this access on weekends, let alone Memorial Day Weekend. Those with 4WD vehicles drive directly onto the beach and park. This is the city of Fernandina’s only beach access that allows driving onto the beach and parking in the sand (an area 600 feet across north to south).
“Park At Your Own Risk”
People do, however, drive onto the beach, get stuck, and need a tow. Often, poor decisions are made to drive a non-equipped vehicle onto the beach. However, even those with 4WD and/or All Wheel Drive can and do get stuck sometimes in the soft sand. This afternoon, at the entrance an electronic sign is positioned there warning “PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK.” Note that Nassau County Ordinance specifies that non-residents get beach driving permits, see info at government website.
Beach Parking Hours
Parking at the beach is currently free at both city and county beaches on Amelia Island. The electronic sign at Seaside Park beach access also advises that driving onto the beach and parking is allowed at Sadler Road between 6 am and 9 pm. Beware the gate at this beach access is closed and locked at 9 pm. Your vehicle, if left on the beach after 9 pm, could be locked there overnight until the gate is reopened in the morning. Not to mention the likelihood of getting a police citation.
Beach Parking 5 am To Midnight
Elsewhere on Amelia Island, other beach parking lots (city beaches and Nassau County beaches), allow parking during the hours 5 am to midnight.
On May 21, 2019, a woman at this Sadler Road beach access was run over as she was sunbathing on the beach. See related article about this beach driving hit-and-run, and watch news video (from webcam footage at the site) that captured the unfortunate incident. Remarkably, it was the second time in less than a month that police responded to calls about someone getting run over on Amelia Island beaches. (The other incidence had occurred at Peters Point Park on April 24, 2019.)
Guard Shed At Beach Entrance
Those arriving at the Seaside Park beach access (Sadler Road) for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend will see a new shed at the entrance. “In the interest of public safety and information distribution, a guard shed has been placed at the entrance of the Sadler Road beach access,” a statement posted May 24, 2019 at the City of Fernandina Beach Government’s Facebook page.
Public Safety & Information
The Fernandina Beach Police Department also posted a statement on their Facebook page May 24, 2019 as follows:
“We hope that everyone enjoys a safe and family oriented Memorial Day Weekend. If you decide to spend some time at our Sadler Beach Access at Seaside Park, you will notice that we have placed a new attendant shed at the entrance to the beach.
This building was purchased on April 10th for this purpose (for just $500.00 from military surplus) and will be staffed by Beach Rangers and Lifeguards, whose primary responsibility will be to disseminate safety information to beachgoers and to monitor activity on the beach.
Beach rules have not changed.
Beach parking at Sadler Beach is open each day from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The gate is LOCKED at 9:00 PM. No alcohol or glass are allowed on the beach. For safety, dogs must be on a leash at all times! Four-wheel drive vehicles are still recommended because of the soft sand!
Regular users and visitors are reminded to use caution at all times in this mixed use area! For sunbathing and other activities, consider moving outside (north or south) of the vehicle parking area. Public Safety Emergency Lane – Do not park or sunbathe between the poles eastward to the ocean. For the North and South beach lane, do not park within 15 feet of the dune protection markers.
The speed limit is 5 MPH while on the beach. No campfires and no overnight camping are permitted. Broken tents, umbrellas, chairs, etc., should be removed and all garbage packed up and taken off the beach. No parking within five feet of a sea turtle nest. Do not walk or drive on the dunes, and do not drive east of the natural escarpment near the ocean (Erosion line from the Waves and Tides).
Beach Rangers and Lifeguards can provide information and clarification of rules and regulations.”