The Small Town Feel of Amelia Island, Florida, and its Pristine Beaches
Find out what you need to know before visiting Amelia Island in Rich Report's guide.
There is no doubt that Florida has some great beach destinations, but Amelia Island is one of the nicest. Amelia Island lies on Florida's northeast Atlantic coast and belongs to the Sea Islands chain of barrier islands. Amelia Island boasts luxury resorts, golf courses, abundant wildlife, and 13 miles of breezy beaches, making it a popular destination for families and couples.
While the rest of Florida booms in popularity, Amelia Island is a true Florida gem that remains quiet and peaceful.
The best things to do on Amelia Island
It's no surprise that Amelia Island's main attraction is its beach, but there are also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, including nature trails, biking, golf, tennis, and more. The island has plenty of coastline with gorgeous water views, including the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Nassau Sound on the south, and Cumberland Sound on the north. Beaches aren't just for looks, since the ocean has an average temperature of 82 degrees during the summer.
On Amelia Island, you'll find natural quartz sand beaches, most of which are framed by sand dunes, some of which are 40 feet high. Amelia Island has plenty of dunes to enjoy your coastal musings, but not all Florida's beaches are backed by these stunning natural features.
There are recreation facilities for the public, including oceanfront mini golf, at Main Beach Park, which features the iconic sand dunes. Coastal maritime forests, salt marshes, and beaches can be found at Amelia Island State Park. Amelia Island's coastline has more than 40 public beach access points, so you can explore the area at your leisure.
Amelia Island Lighthouse, built in 1838 with whale oil as its first source of light, is the oldest existing lighthouse in Florida. It is possible to register for a tour, but visitors are not allowed to climb the stairs inside the lighthouse.
Throughout its history, Amelia Island has been influenced by Spanish, French, British, and American influences. Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach offers sand dunes, maritime hammocks, estuarine tidal marshes, and the nineteenth-century Fort Clinch, among other ecological features. You should also consider visiting Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida, and Dungeness Ruins in Cumberland Island, Georgia, for a full understanding of the history of the area. For a history lesson about Nassau County inside the old county jail, stop by the Amelia Island Museum of History.
You can visit Marlin and Barrel Distillery in Amelia Island if you are a fan of spirits, with rum, gin, and bourbon (book a tasting if you are a fan of spirits) as well as bike tours and horseback riding. Enjoy Victorian-era architecture and Florida's oldest bar in Fernandina Beach's Amelia Island Historic District. If you're looking for the perfect Florida beach vacation, Amelia Island is the place to be.
Amelia Island Accommodations
The Omni Amelia Island Resort is a luxurious oceanfront resort spread across 1,350 acres at the tip of Amelia Island. With its 3.5 miles of secluded beach as well as classic resort amenities like on-property restaurants, resort pools, 36 holes of championship golf, and a full-service spa, there's no way you can go wrong with a stay at this sumptuous spot. More than 400 oceanfront guest rooms and suites with balconies are available, so you and your family will have plenty of space.
A popular option is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where every room and suite has a balcony overlooking the ocean. Also available are private lessons on the resort's 18-hole championship golf course, as well as indoor and outdoor pools with direct beach access and cabanas. On-resort restaurants provide delicious food, and you can explore the area with the resort naturalist.
Amelia Island at its best during the summer
The mild temperatures and year-round sunshine make Amelia Island the perfect destination any time of the year. Although many people enjoy going to the beach in the summer, spring and fall are also beautiful times to visit. During the spring, the skies are clear and temperatures are in the 70s - perfect conditions for any outdoor activity - while the autumn is a bit cooler and rainier.
Amelia Island's winters are marked by drier air and abundant sunshine, but the temperatures are still comfortable. There is a bit of a chill in the ocean, but it's perfect weather for golf, tennis, hiking, and bicycling.
Amelia Island is especially lovely during the Christmas season. Visitors and locals alike are delighted by the elaborate light displays and festooned shop windows in downtown Amelia Island, as well as the docent-led Amelia Island Holiday Home Tour of lavishly decorated historic family homes. If you can, stay for the annual New Year's Eve Shrimp Drop, Florida's answer to Times Square's snowy celebration, and don't miss the Victorian-themed Dickens on Centre Christmas street festival.
The best places to eat and drink
There is no shortage of fresh, flavorful seafood on Amelia Island's menus when you're near the ocean. Whether you're craving fried shrimp or fresh poke, Timoti's Seafood Shak is the place to go. There's nothing fancy about it, but it's a local favorite.
A good option for seafood is Verandah at the Omni Amelia Island Resort, which features Mediterranean influences, house-made pasta, and fine surroundings. For something different, head to España Restaurant & Tapas, where you can eat traditional Spanish food and seafood that has won rave reviews from hundreds of guests. The lush outdoor garden makes for a particularly lovely setting for dining.
While you enjoy the ocean breeze in your hair, book a table at Salt Life Food Shack, The Sandbar & Kitchen, Brett's Waterway Cafe, or Sliders Seaside Grill.
It is only a half hour drive from Amelia Island by car to Jacksonville International Airport, which is the closest airport to Amelia Island. It takes three hours to drive to Orlando International Airport.
The best way to reach Amelia Island by car is to take I-95 to Exit 373 and then turn east on A1A for 15 miles. You'll know you've reached Amelia Island when you cross a scenic bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway and see the sparkling Atlantic.