Amelia Island Boating — River Cruises, Kayaking & Fishing Excursions

Love being on the water? Then you’ll love exploring Amelia Island’s waterways…

For some, there’s nothing like the pleasure and relaxation of spending time on the water, whether your ambition is to catch a fish or just absorb coastal nature. Amelia Island offers a variety of tours that get folks out on the water, from leisurely pleasure cruises, a sailboat or kayaking adventure, or a boating excursion with one of the local expert charter fishing captains.

Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fernandina Beach is the gateway to Florida on the water for mariners heading south (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Mile 716), or the last stop in Florida when traveling north on the Intracoastal (near the Georgia border). Oasis Marinas is the manager of the city-owned Fernandina Harbor Marina.

Bella Vita Mega Yacht, Fernandina Beach, FL. Photo by Amelia Island Living magazine.
248-foot Bella Vita Mega Yacht At Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina

One of the best spots on Amelia Island to watch an island sunset is along the Amelia riverfront at the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina.

Riverfront sunset at Fernandina Harbor Marina, southern basin. Photo by Amelia Island Living magazine.
Riverfront sunset at Fernandina Harbor Marina, southern basin.
Fernandina Beach sunset reflections along river, winter tranquility. Photo by Amelia Island Living magazine.
Sunset shrimp boats Along Amelia River, downtown Fernandina Beach

The marina conveniently sits adjacent to historic Centre Street, the city’s main business corridor adjacent to the riverfront. Mariners stopping at the city’s marina have easy access to Fernandina’s foot-friendly historic district featuring a variety of shops, boutiques, art galleries, pubs and restaurants known as “downtown.”

Marina Welcome Center, Downtown Fernandina

Mariners who arrive at the Fernandina’s city marina downtown can visit the marina Welcome Center and restroom facilities. For those who trailer boats, there’s a city public boat ramp (pictured below) at the Fernandina Harbor Marina off Front Street near the marina Welcome Center. Nearby public restrooms are also located next to the city’s Old Train Depot at the foot of Centre Street, just across the railroad tracks.

Atlantic Seafood Bait & Tackle at downtown Fernandina's public boat ramp.
Atlantic Seafood Bait & Tackle, Downtown Fernandina’s Public Boat Ramp

There’s also a riverfront walkway (pictured below) along the southern basin at Fernandina Harbor Marina, just south of Atlantic Seafood. The walkway’s seawall is another nice spot to sit and watch boating activity and sunsets.

Downtown Fernandina's New River Walkway. Amelia Island Living magazine image.
Downtown’s Riverfront Walkway (South of Fernandina’s Boat Ramp)
Amelia Island Nature & Leisure Cruises

Amelia River Cruises offers nature tours on the water and “Twilight” cruises, some with live entertainment (including a BYOB adult-themed tour). The biggest cruise boat operator at Fernandina Harbor Marina, Amelia River Cruises operates year-round with tour boats departing daily from downtown Fernandina dock (seasonal schedules). The narrated tours provide interesting local history and nature highlights, including coastal marsh areas and spots overlooking areas of Cumberland Island, GA.

Amelia River Cruises offers the opportunity to possibly glimpse dolphins, a variety of shore and wading birds plus the feral horses of Cumberland that often graze along its shoreline and marsh areas. 

Kayak Paddling Trails in Northeast Florida

Neighborhood waterways (tidal creeks and rivers around Amelia Island, the nearby Talbot Islands, as well as Tiger Island and Cumberland Island), offer miles of salt marsh to be explored by paddle.

Four rivers, their salt marshes, plus several barrier islands create the perfect location in northeast Florida for exceptional coastal saltwater paddling,”  says the National Park Service.

Several local area kayaking tour operators give visitors a variety of paddling options around Amelia Island and nearby barrier islands. Unexperienced kayakers who’ve never paddled can learn by taking a tour with expert guides and be prepped beforehand with kayaking instruction.

Those with kayaking skills can launch kayaks for free from Nassau County’s Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp located on Amelia Island’s north end. From this boat ramp, experienced paddlers can take a 5-mile round trip paddle up Egans Creek (to Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina). Or paddle half mile across the Amelia River (intracoastal waterway) to Tiger Island, paddle along its shoreline, and then reverse (3-mile round trip paddle).

Kayakers are sometimes seen launching from the riverfront campground area at Fort Clinch State Park as well as Fernandina’s Egans Creek Park on Atlantic Avenue (pictured below). Egans Creek Park features a floating dock with kayak launch.

Dee Dee Bartels Boat Ramp On The Amelia River

Besides the Fernandina Harbor Marina downtown in the city, another wonderful resource for boaters and kayakers on Amelia Island is located toward the island’s northwest by driving over the North 14th Street Bridge. Be sure to also check out the Dee Dee Bartels public boat ramp on the Amelia River/Intracoastal Waterway (also known as the North Amelia Island Park/Ramp). This is a favorite spot of local boaters offering a large parking area for boat trailers and utilized by experienced kayakers to launch.

Even if you don’t have a boat, the Dee Dee Bartels ramp location is a great spot to enjoy a peaceful waterfront setting and to view lovely riverfront sunsets.

Directions To Dee Dee Bartels Public Boat Ramp

From Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, head north on 14th Street and go over the 14th Street bridge that leads to the boat ramp. It’s a wide ramp allowing three boats to be launched at the same time. Two fishing piers/walkways jut out into the water a fair distance, flanking the ramp. Two floating docks, one on each side, are below the elevated walkways. There’s also a large pavilion with picnic tables, offering a nice gathering spot. It also offers covered shelter to wait for a rain shower to pass. There’s also a public restroom facility at the Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp.

Amelia Island Fishing Charters

For those who’d like to head out on a fishing charter boat, Amelia Island offers a variety of options, both inshore fishing and offshore fishing excursions. See the Amelia Island Fishing Charters Guides Association website to browse a bunch of charter boats and Captains servicing Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach.

One of the top local fishing experts serving Amelia Island for more than 30 years is Captain Terry Lacoss of Amelia Angler Outfitters, offering charter fishing and lots more. Amelia Angler Outfitters also has a store conveniently located in downtown Fernandina at 111 Centre Street (just a short walk from the Fernandina Harbor Marina). The shop rents surf fishing tackle and sells bait, plus offers outdoor wear, hats, sunglasses, fly and light fishing tackle.