UPDATE: A new beach ordinance was passed by Nassau County, Florida since the article below was published. See most recent beach ordinance changes impacting areas of Amelia Island’s beaches this year in 2021.
__ Previous article dated May 14, 2020 continues below __
Nassau County’s Executive Order No. 7 reintroduces beach driving, beginning Friday, May 15, 2020 at 8 a.m. The Nassau County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to allow on beach driving/parking for Nassau County, Florida residents (IDs required), in the beach plan proposed and then passed Wednesday, May 13, 2020.
Emergency Order (Temporary)
Note that this is a temporary emergency beach driving order. During the COVID-19 public health emergency that continues, Nassau County, Florida residents (only) will be allowed to drive onto the beachfront to park at Peters Point Park and American Beach (via Lewis Street). EXCEPTION — Active military, regardless of residency, will be allowed to drive onto the beach, as well. “Vehicle access is being limited to County residents and active military personnel only at this time to prevent overpopulation,” according to a Nassau County press release.
Beach Attendant Booths
Peters Point and American Beach (at Lewis Street) will have a beach driving access control attendant booth. Those desiring to drive onto the beach will have to show residency by providing “a Nassau County Drivers License or State I.D., or an active military identification card,” according to a Nassau County press release.
Additionally, the County press release stated:
“The Board realizes that there may be individuals that have property in Nassau County but do not have an I.D. reflecting Nassau County as their place of residence. At this time, the County does not have the ability to review other types of documents to verify residency. However, a method is being established and will be presented to the Board for consideration at a future meeting.”
Beach access is subject to social distancing requirements. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others. Groups visiting the beach together are to be kept to 10 people or less.
Don’t Get Stuck!
Only vehicles that are 4WD or all-wheel-drive are allowed on the beach. The speed limit for vehicles driving on the beach is 10 MPH.
Vehicle Searches — No Alcohol
According to Nassau County Executive Order No. 7, “Motor vehicle entry onto the beach subjects each vehicle, including coolers and containers, to a search for alcoholic beverages, sealed or unsealed. Alcohol, sealed or unsealed, is prohibited on the beach and cannot be transported onto the beach.”
Drive Lanes & Pedestrian Areas
Also being implemented are driving lanes and an area of the beachfront for beach pedestrians and sunbathers. The area of beachfront for parking vehicles will be reduced during this temporary emergency order.
See the layout of Peters Point and American Beach below, showing the driving lanes, pedestrian/sunbather area adjacent to the dune walkovers, and on-beach parking. These images are screenshots taken during the May 13, 2020 live online presentation (Nassau County Board of Commissioners meeting).
On-Beach Driving/Parking 8 AM – 9PM
The beachfront at Peters Point and American Beach will be open for vehicular traffic and on-beach parking from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, vehicle access for on-beach parking at Scott Road will be CLOSED. (This will save the county an estimated $20,000, the 4-week cost for monitoring vehicles entering the beach at this one smaller vehicle beach access).
The extra cost for allowing beach driving during the pandemic emergency was presented during the Nassau County commission meeting held May 13, 2020. The County meeting video can be viewed online at the Nassau County Clerk’s website.
Paved Beach Parking Lots
Note that the paved parking lots with dune walkovers at Nassau County’s beaches — Peters Point, Burney Park at American Beach, Scott Road and the Southend beach access (i.e., “Dunes Club”) —will be open to everyone, regardless of residency, to park vehicles earlier — from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.. (Parking spaces are available on a first come basis.)
Sea Turtle Nesting Season
During the Nassau County commission meeting held May 13th, complying with the Endangered Species Act was also mentioned with regard to establishing on-beach driving/parking hours. Sea turtle nesting season began May 1st and continues through October 2020. Beach drivers are reminded to watch out for marked sea turtle nests.
No Beach Camping
During sea turtle nesting season (May through October), no overnight camping is allowed on the beach (or in beach parking lots).
The temporary ban on horses at the beach has been lifted for horseback riding businesses (but not private horse owners). Tour operators can once again offer horseback riding tours on the beach and park horse trailers in the grass at Peters Point.
Penalties — Violations
Per Executive Order No. 7, “Violation of any section of this order will subject the violator to a second-degree misdemeanor, subject to a $500 fine and/or sixty (60) days in jail.”
Read Executive Order No. 7
For more details, read the 12-page PDF document, Emergency Management COVID-19 — Nassau County, Florida Executive Order No. 7 (dated May 14, 2020).