** NEWS UPDATE ** The status of Amelia Island beaches (closed vs. open and various social distancing restrictions), has fluctuated amid the coronavirus pandemic. See the most recent beach news headlines and related content about local beaches and COVID-19 issues.
Keep The Beaches Clean!
Browse the summary below of Amelia Island beach regulations concerning dogs, alcohol, beach parking hours and more.
It’s good for all to keep the beaches of Amelia Island clean and safe for residents, visitors and wildlife. With growth of local population and Amelia Island tourism, many more people are using the beaches. So please be considerate and familiarize yourself with Amelia Island beach ordinances. Be sure to read the signs when entering the beaches.
The Fernandina Beach Police Department patrol the city’s beachfront and implemented a “Beach Ranger” program to better enforce compliance of beach laws. The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office patrol the county beaches and have also increased beach monitoring in recent years. Here’s just a summary of beach code. (See links to local government websites further below to review complete ordinance information.)
NO GLASS IS ALLOWED on any of Amelia Island’s beaches, NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALL LITTERING IS PROHIBITED. Put trash in garbage cans and “Leave Only Your Footprints.” (See DOG RESTRICTIONS further below).
Sea Oats & Dunes
Please utilize public beach access points to cross through dunes, stay on wooden walkways or sandy paths (there are signs marking beach access). Sea oats are protected by Florida State Statute: “to protect the beaches and shores of the state from erosion by preserving natural vegetative cover to bind the sand.” Do not pick, disturb or drive on sea oats (potential Florida fine is $10,000).
City Vs. County Beaches
Both Fernandina city and Nassau County public beach access offers free beach parking. While much of Amelia Island beach regulations are similar, be aware that beach ordinances may vary depending on whether you’re at a city of Fernandina area of the beachfront or in Nassau County (such camping overnight and beach driving). Also note the Florida State Parks have their own rules (Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Park).
Beach Parking Lot Hours
Nassau County beach parking hours (including Peters Point, Scott Rd., American Beach, Southend Beach Access) match the city of Fernandina’s beach parking hours, from 5 am until midnight *** (see updated hours below). There’s one exception at Fernandina’s Sadler Road/Seaside Park beachfront near Sliders. “On beach parking” hours are restricted here to parking only between the hours of 6 am to 9 pm. *** UPDATE — COVID-19 pandemic beach hours — as of May 4, 2020, Nassau County’s beaches are open from 6 am (not 5), until 9 pm (not midnight).
“Carry On, Carry Off”
Nothing should be left anywhere on the 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. Be sure to 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. Items on the beach overnight become an obstacle course, interfering with sea turtle nesting (May 1 to Oct. 31).
Leash Law & Scoop Poop
Dogs are allowed on city and county beaches, but must be on a leash at all times. “It shall be the duty of any person while in direct control of a dog to have in his/her possession a bag or “pooper scooper” or other such device sufficient for use in removal of canine waste.” Fernandina Beach Sec. 90-45 Dog Control ordinance. Any person who violates this may receive a citation and penalty of at least $75. Dogs are NOT ALLOWED on the beach at Florida state parks (Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Park).
Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on city of Fernandina or Nassau County beaches. It’s unlawful for any person to consume or drink beer, wine or alcoholic beverage. Possession of any open container containing an alcoholic beverage is prohibited at all parks, beaches, and beach accesses. “Violations are punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and/or ten days incarceration,” according to county ordinance.
Swimming & Flotation Devices
According to Nassau County ordinance, “No swimming beyond 300 feet perpendicular to water’s edge. No person shall utilize any raft, float, “boogie-board”, belly board or other flotation device of any description, except for a boat, surfboard, wind surfboard, sail boat or jet ski, more than 300 feet from the water’s edge. Surfboards and/or boogie boards shall at all times while in the ocean be attached to the user by surf leash.”
Where is the best place to camp overnight on Amelia Island? It’s at the campground located within Fort Clinch State Park, featuring riverfront campsites and oceanfront campsites with electric, picnic tables, fire rings, laundry, shower and restroom facilities. (UPDATE: Fort Clinch State Park had been closed during pandemic, but reopened May 13, 2020 for recreational activities only. Campgrounds remain closed through at least May 20, 2020. See recent news update about Fort Clinch with opening day photos).
Otherwise, there’s NO CAMPING or overnight sleeping (and NO FIRES) allowed on the beaches within the city of Fernandina beachfront (including, but not limited, to North Beach, Main Beach, Jasmine Street, and Seaside Park). Beach campfires or bonfires “between sundown and sunup” are seasonally allowed in Winter/Spring only on Nassau County beaches, but not during sea turtle nesting season from May 1st to October 31. Fires must be extinguished prior to leaving the beach. *** UPDATE: During the coronavirus pandemic, there is no camping allowed anywhere on Amelia Island’s beaches. Also, a pending ordinance revision might totally ban beach camping and beach campfires from 9 pm to 6 am in the near future).
Always look at signage when entering the beaches. For complete details about Nassau County, Florida’s beach ordinances including more about limited areas of driving on the beach (4-wheel drive, non-Nassau County residents required to get a special permit in advance,) see more info at links below:
Browse the most recent news, articles about Amelia Island’s beaches. Review complete beach Nassau County ordinance information by visiting the Nassau County government website. Also visit the city of Fernandina Beach website for further information about city beaches.
Learn more about coastal wildlife at the beach, see “How To Be A Beach Hero” brochure at city of Fernandina Beach website.