BD TRAVEL FEATURE..FLORIDA’S AMELIA ISLAND: EASY TO REACH, HARD TO FORGET

BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR

LOCATED just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget.

With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, natural beauty, unique history, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a popular destination for visitors looking for a relaxing holiday.

Amelia is 13 miles long and two miles wide, with preserved parklands at its northern and southern tips, making up nearly 10 percent of the entire island.

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the island is edged with natural Appalachian quartz beaches and framed by sand dunes as high as 40 feet.

Mild temperatures and cool sea breezes make temperatures pleasant all year-round.

The island is home to an irresistible mix of spa, golf, dining, shopping and leisure activities, but for those who want pure rest, relaxation and quality time with loved ones, there is no better place than Amelia Island.

What to Do

From clear waters and long, beautiful beaches to shady trails and historic settings, Amelia Island has plenty of ways to fill the days.

Visitors can opt for a cosy, horse-drawn carriage ride through historic downtown Fernandina Beach or cast off on a sunset sail down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Children will enjoy a trip to Fort Clinch State Park, home to one of the most well-preserved 19th-century forts in the country, swimming, fishing, full-facility camping and more.

A six-mile trail leads hikers and bikers through the park, where you can also see the largest sand dunes in Florida.

Automotive Photography by Deremer Studios LLC

Nature-lovers will find few better ways to appreciate the island’s scenic wonders than a trip to Kayak Amelia or Amelia Island Kayak Excursions, offering the opportunity to paddle your way to close encounters with Amelia Island’s extraordinary wildlife, including egrets, herons, sea turtles, and manatees.

Nature Segway tours are also available at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, as well as Kayak Amelia, which offers tours through Fort George Island Cultural State Park.

Amelia Island is a little island with a big history, which guests can discover for themselves at the Amelia Island Museum of History, Florida’s first spoken-history museum. Experienced guides will lead you back in time to explore events spanning more than four centuries of island life.

The only place in the US to have been under the dominion of 8 different flags, the island has been a haven for pirates, socialites, and adventurers, whose stories were recently featured in the short film “The Real Treasure Island” (ameliaisland.com/treasure)

Take in the American Beach Museum for a glimpse into the history of American Beach, a storied oceanfront haven for African Americans during the era of segregation that remains a vibrant community today, set against the backdrop of Florida’s tallest sand dune.

Guests can enjoy a quiet, leisurely stroll along Fernandina’s historic Centre Street, complete with unique shops and eateries.

For a picturesque tour of the waters, visit Amelia River Cruises and Charters or try a Jet Ski tour of the Amelia River with Flying Fish Adventures.

Amelia Boat Rentals provides boat rentals, both with and without a captain, as well as wave runner rentals. Several fishing guides and charters are also available.

Year-Round Events and Festivals

Deremer Studios Commercial Photograph – Amelia Island

All year long, Amelia Island offers family-friendly events and festivals that celebrate the island’s colourful past and present – from the Amelia Concours Week (March), featuring rare vintage automobiles, to the Wild Amelia Nature Festival (May), offering a fun and educational look into the island’s biodiversity. The famous Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (May) is an all-out street party pirate celebration in honour of the tasty shrimp and the island’s shrimping heritage.

From February through April, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival hosts world-class performances throughout the island, with internationally renowned artists such as Itzhak Perlman.

The beat goes on as the Amelia Island Jazz Festival (October) provides a salty soundtrack to a great vacation, drumming in fans and competitors from around the world for Pétanque Amelia Island Open (November).

Every December, Amelia Island hosts a holiday celebration like no other, headlined by the annual Dickens on Centre holiday event in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Inspired by Charles Dicken’s novel, “A Christmas Carol, Dickens on Centre transforms downtown Fernandina into a classic Victorian English village with costumed characters, themed entertainment and performances, visits from Father Christmas and seasonal gifts.

 

Where to Stay

From upmarket resort hotels and charming bed and breakfast inns, to boutique hotels, Amelia Island is ready to welcome guests.

With more than 20 places to stay and more than 2,500 rooms, visitors can choose properties located directly on the Atlantic Ocean, within walking distance of the historic district.

For the adventurous traveler, Amelia Island offers two campgrounds at Fort Clinch State Park – one oceanside and one under a canopy of majestic Live Oaks.

There are also a number of vacation home rentals available on island, allowing guests to enjoy the conveniences of home during their stay.

Where to Eat

With more than 90 distinctive restaurants from which to choose, Amelia Island serves up an enticing array of flavourful options.

From the freshest Florida seafood and authentic Italian and Mexican specialities, to fine dining masterpieces and decadent desserts.

From fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro to the small town charm of the Timoti’s Seafood Shak, serving up seafood in a down-home setting, Amelia Island offers something for every taste.

Each January, Amelia Island Restaurant Week offers guests three-course meals, highlighting some of the destination’s most popular restaurants.

Where is Amelia Island

Located off the northeastern tip of Florida on the Atlantic Ocean, by car Amelia Island is just:

  • 30 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport
  • 20 minutes from the Georgia border
  • 6 hours from Atlanta and Miami
  • 3 ½ hours from Walt Disney World

How to book

Contact Barrhead Travel Belfast on 028 9023 3366 or http://www.barrheadtravel.co.uk
For more information on Amelia island go to http://www.ameliaisland.com
For maps, brochures, itineraries contact Cellet Marketing and PR on 01295 722816 or info@cellet.co.uk

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