One of the southernmost in a chain of barrier islands stretching along America’s Atlantic coast, Amelia Island has been a popular destination for explorers, colonial invaders, bootleggers, pirates and more recently tourists since it was put on the European map in the 16th century. This is Florida’s original luxury holiday destination and when you come to visit, it won’t be hard to see why.
Amelia Island is prized for its long stretches of quiet, untouched beach, its natural beauty and its unique history. Here you can wander along the beach with 40 foot sand dunes looking out for distant whale spouts and dolphins on the horizon, take a horse ride along the shoreline at sunrise, scour the sand for the perfect shell or simply set up a deckchair and doze in the Florida sunshine.
If you want to get more active, there are plenty of options for making the most of the natural beauty in this pint-sized island paradise. Take a hike through the forests around historic Fort Clinch, enjoy a guided kayak tour around the Island’s inland creeks and marshes, ride the waves on a surf or body board. Or, why not partake in a round of golf at one of seven top class courses? You can even watch world-class experts compete in the America Open Pétanque championships.
In the port town of Fernandina Beach you can get an insight into Amelia Island’s chequered past. Have a drink in the Palace Saloon on Centre Street, Florida’s oldest tavern, dating back to 1878. Look out for the Island’s Gilded Age mansions, many of which have been converted into historic inns. Take a tour around the Civil War era Fort Clinch, or if you’re unsure where to start, drop in to the Welcome Center, housed in an 1899 railroad depot.
Whatever you choose to do here, you’ll find a Florida destination that’s easy to reach but hard to forget.
With 13 miles of unspoilt Appalachian quartz beaches, framed by high sand dunes, there’s plenty of opportunity to unwind, collect shells, go for a swim and dry off in the Florida sunshine on your holiday to Amelia Island. For thrill-seekers, there are also water sports like surfing, kayaking, sailing and body boarding to try.
There’s always something happening on Amelia Island, with a full calendar of events to choose from. Music fans will enjoy the annual Jazz festival in autumn. Foodies will love Restaurant Week and the historic Annual Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival. And at Christmas, there’s a traditional Cookie Tour around some of the Island’s historic inns (with biscuits to try in each).
The links of Amelia Island offer an enticing challenge for fans of the fairway, boasting 117 holes and seven that play along the Atlantic Ocean (a 42 million square foot water hazard). World famous golf course architects such as Peter Dye and Bobby Weed have had their hand in the design of Amelia Island’s stunning golf courses.
Named for Princess Amelia, daughter of George II, Amelia Island was one of America’s most fiercely fought over pieces of real estate, and has flown eight different nation’s flags during its history. A colourful cast of inhabitants including Native Americans, European explorers, pirates, Gilded Age millionaires and fishermen has left a fascinating legacy, especially in the Historic District of Fernandina Beach.
Amelia Island offers more than 70 independent restaurants, from the finest dining (one of Florida’s two five-Diamond restaurants) to inviting bistros and local favourites. A blend of ethnic influences, and, of course, some of the world’s best and freshest seafood are all on the menu along with sensational ocean views.