Beaches Jacksonville Florida
From the mighty St. Johns River carving a path through the heart of Jacksonville to the endless stretch of Atlantic coastline including Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach , the waterways of Northeast Florida truly capture the essence of the Florida lifestyle. From the beaches to Downtown – water adventures are an essential piece of the puzzle that makes up Jacksonville.
There's an undiscovered secret tucked away on Florida's Northeast coast. It's over 20 miles of unspoiled, white sandy beaches where breezy sunny days melt into hot, steamy nights. This stretch of coastline begins at Amelia Island, dotted with resorts, stretches through the naval powerhouse and quaint fishing village of Mayport; continues through trendy Atlantic and Neptune Beach, which flows into Jacksonville Beach, a major vacation destination and ends with Ponte Vedra Beach. Each destination along this sparkling coast offers a unique experience, waiting to be discovered.
The most expansive of the beaches is Jacksonville Beach, offering an array of activities for young adults and families alike. Grab a beach cruiser and bike along the boardwalk, passing pizza dives, surf shops and trendy boutiques. Biking is the locals' way to see the sites and meet friends at bars and sandwich shops along the coast. If you didn't pack the Schwinn, no problem. Our friends at Rent Beach Stuff are here for you. Just like the name, this one-of-a-kind company delivers and picks-up bikes, beach towels, boogie boards and anything else you can think of to make your trip to the beach a breeze.
Be sure to check out Jacksonville Beach's calendar of events . The Sea Walk Pavilion is home to annual events like Springing the Blues in March and local favorites, like movie screenings outdoors, under the stars in the summer. Fill up your picnic basket or stop by Rita's Italian Ice for a sweet treat and find your favorite spot on the lawn, as you indulge in a favorite flick like Jaws or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory .
Head north to Neptune and Atlantic Beach, where the neighboring beach towns form a city square complete with popular restaurants, trendy boutiques, casual beach bars and more. The rolling, sandy dunes will call you onto the beach for a day of laying out, playing beach volleyball or a leisurely stroll. When you've had your fill of the surf head up to the famed Lemon Bar, along the Sea Horse Oceanfront Inn pool for a refreshing Pina Colada or daily beer special. The open-air bar is a locals' favorite for cooling down on a hot day or to start off an even hotter night. For tasty conch fritters with a side of reggae don't miss Sunny Caribbee and for a special night out try Azuréa at the new One Ocean Resort & Spa .
Further north along the coast lays the once sleepy shrimping village of Mayport. Today, Mayport is home to Naval Station Mayport. It is also where visitors find Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park . This best kept secret is a favorite for dog lovers, as Fido is welcome along the white, sandy beaches. Families will enjoy the many picnic spots and covered pavilions, as well as fishing holes and kids' splash area at the play park. And if you're looking to get back to nature, camping steps away from the beach in private, wooded spots is available. There are nature trails to explore and some of Florida's best biking trails.
Two resort communities book-end these fabulous beaches. Ponte Vedra Beach to the south and Amelia Island to the north offer vacations high on style. Whether your ideal vacation is pitching a tent, relaxing in resort luxury or lounging in an oceanfront room, you're sure to find the perfect vacation along Northeast Florida's coast.
Beach Resorts & Kids' Programs
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island offers The Ritz Kids program, an exclusive supervised children's program designed specifically for younger guests ages 5 through 12. The Ritz Kids program allows parents to play while children stay with trained and certified counselors. Traditional camp activities include beach games and water sports, arts and crafts and rely races and tag games. For children looking for something a little more adventurous tai chi classes, environmental and nature programs and turtle education are also offered.
When the parents need a night alone, check out the "Kids Night Out" offered Friday and Saturday evenings. Young guests will enjoy games, movies and arts and crafts along with dinner. When weather permits, children are sure to have fun on hayrides and at bonfires with s'mores.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island also schedules Pirate Tuck-ins nightly for little guests. The resort characters, Captain Louis Aury, Princess Amelia and Amelia's Treasure (a special parrot) arrive in the room with a treasure chest full of pirate booty to take home. During the tuck-in, milk and cookies are delivered while the special characters read a bedtime story.
Teenagers aren't forgotten at The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island. "Our Space Teen Lounge" is equipped with the latest gadgets for guests ages 13-19. The lounge is stocked with flat screen TVs, X-Box and Playstation games, I-Pods and laptop computers. Activities include kayaking, pizza and movie nights along with surfing lessons.
Little guests at Amelia Island Plantation are invited to Kids' Camp Amelia. For a fun time, kids can come to camp in the morning, afternoon or all day and it's open seven days a week. The award-winning children's programs offer a variety of great experiences. Daily activities include swimming, arts and crafts and nature programs. During the summer special programs include golf and tennis clinics.
When the parents are away, the kids can play at the Just For Kids dinner party, where children go on hayrides, treasure hunts or participate in a theme night. Themes range from PJ parties to movie nights. Just For Kids runs Wednesday through Saturday nights from March through September and from October to February on Thursdays through Saturday nights.
Teen guests will want to enroll in Amelia Island Plantation's "Teen Explorers" once they arrive at the resort. Guests ages 11-19 will enjoy special activities just for them, including bowling, trivia, basketball and trips to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Children will make memories that last a lifetime at Ginn Hammock Beach Resort . The "Kid's Crew Camp" offers special activities such as scavenger hunts, beach games and pool fun. "Kids' Crew" is a camp created just for guests ages four to 12, but guests of all ages will love this oceanfront paradise.
The Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa , located in Ponte Vedra Beach, was named one of the "Top 50 Favorite Family Resorts" by Better Homes & Gardens. Located just steps away from some of the most beautiful beaches, undisturbed marsh lands, and fresh ocean breezes, the hotel is proud to offer excursions by foot, bike or boat. Enjoy a wide variety of activities at the Cabana Beach Club, an exclusive offering at this Ponte Vedra resort. The Atlantic waves provide the perfect environment for body surfing, sun bronzing, shell scouring, and soul searching. The Cabana Beach Club pool area offers a playground and baby pool for the little guests.
The "Sawgrass Grasshopper Gang" is a supervised children's program, tailored to ages five to 12. Operated by youth-education specialists, this special program is designed to fulfill the vacation wish lists of pint-sized guests and also allows parents to enjoy a few precious private moments. Kids activities include sandcastle sculpting, "dive-in" movies, scavenger hunts, nature hikes and "pizza and pool" parties.
Convenient access to water, both fresh and salt, is the primary reason the city of Jacksonville exists where it does. The first European explorers to happen upon Northeast Florida sailed into the St. Johns River looking for safe harbor. And early settlers used the mighty river as a source for food as well as a watery passageway to venture deep into Florida's untamed interior. Today, the St. Johns and the dozens of creeks and small rivers that flow into it are enjoyed by thousands of boaters and fishermen each day.
Boating & Water Fun in Jacksonville
Jacksonville's seven bridges expand across the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. There is water, water everywhere! With so much water surrounding the area, there is sure to be a water activity for you to jump in to!
Get on the Water
Mug Race Sailing Regatta
"The longest sailboat race in the world" sails through Northeast Florida each spring. Since 1953, sailors have tried the challenge of Mug Racing in boats ranging from sailing canoes and Sunfish to high-tech catamarans. The 38-mile race takes place the first Saturday in May each year, beginning along the waterfront in Palatka, a small town about an hour's drive south of Jacksonville, and ends in Orange Park.
Explore the Salt Marsh
Quiet creeks and salt marsh ebb and flow through out the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve . In this vast wetland lays a community teaming with unique birds, plants and wildlife. Much of the salt marsh can only be navigated by kayak. Kayak Amelia at Long Island Outfitters offers guided kayak/nature tours, as well as canoe and kayak rentals. There are nine canoe/kayak launch points in Jacksonville.
Arrive in Style
Many of Jacksonville's festivals and celebrations take place Downtown. Fireworks are often shot from the Main Street and Acosta Bridges featuring Jacksonville's signature waterfalls of fireworks. For a front row seat to see it all, dock your boat at Metropolitan Park Marina. This marina has 78 boat slips that accommodate boats up to 80 feet LOA. The marina is also walking distance to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium , where the Jacksonville Jaguars roar and college football match-ups energize the crowd. JaxParks maintains more than 21 boat ramps in the area.
Get in the Water
The Wave Masters - Time to Surf
Since 1983, The Wave Masters Society, once just a group of surfer dudes looking to expand their sport, have hosted a surf contest at Jacksonville. Today, that contest has evolved into Florida's largest and most prestigious open amateur surfing contest. This annual contest held in May attracts over 300 competitors from all over the southeast and draws thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
X Camp - Time to Wakeboard
The St. Johns River and creeks feeding into it, like Black Creek, are popular hotspots to water ski and wakeboard. X Camp provides spring and summer camps for students of all ages and abilities, taught by an experienced and professional staff. If summer camp is not for you, then take private lessons. X Camp boasts the best in instruction and guarantees improved riding ability. All equipment is provided including wakeboards, wake skates, skis, life vests, wetsuits, etc. Whether you want to stop by for an hour or cruise the river on a Saturday afternoon, there is a program for you!
X Camp's waterfront location also provides the best in entertaining options. Celebrate a birthday or enjoy a unique activity with friends while in town by bringing your friends out on the boat. A post-party comes with several hours of instruction. The facility is perfect for eating and hanging out. Jet Ski rentals are also available.
An Ideal Spot for Fishing
Convenient access to water, both fresh and salt, is the primary reason the City of Jacksonville exists where it does. The first European explorers to happen upon northeast Florida sailed into the St. Johns River looking for safe harbor. And early settlers used the mighty river as a source for food as well as a watery passageway to venture deep into Florida's untamed interior. Today, the St. Johns and the dozens of creeks and small rivers that flow into it are enjoyed by thousands of boaters and fishermen each day.
With so many miles of riverfront shoreline in Jacksonville, boaters find marinas stretched from Orange Park to Jacksonville Beach. And if it's a deep-sea adventure you seek, the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway are an easy 30-minute cruise from Downtown Jacksonville.
Supply the desire to fish and let Backwater Fishing Adventures supply the equipment and expertise. Specializing in light tackle and fly fishing, Captain Dave Borries has over 20 years experience navigating the waterways of Northeast Florida. Backwater Fishing Adventures can help even the novice fisherman discover the secret hideaways perfect for flyfishing throughout the waters of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve . For those more interested in seeing the sights than catching their dinner, charters are available to tour the wetlands and experience the local wildlife. Be on the lookout for manatees, egrets, ospreys and an occasional dolphin.
The Nassau Sound Fishing Bridge provides fishermen access to one of the best fishing areas in Northeast Florida. The mile-long fishing bridge spans Nassau Sound. Entrance to the fishing bridge is through the entrance to Amelia Island State Park. Whiting, jack, drum and tarpon are some of the many species that can be caught from the bridge.
Off the coast of Jacksonville, the list of saltwater sportfish to be caught includes dolphin, bonito, tuna, sea bass, wahoo, cobia and barracuda - just to name a few. Reel in a big one at the favorite spot of local anglers, the Mayport Jetties, located at the mouth of the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. There, join Capt. Dave Sipler Sportfishing for a day of inshore and offshore fishing, finding the hot spots for catching redfish, speckled trout and flounder.
Cast a line at the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier overlooking the ocean. The 1,300-foot concrete structure extends nearly a quarter mile into the sea, offering ample access to fishing, concessions and the spectacular ocean view. The hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Admission to fish is $4.00 or $1.00 to simply stroll the length of the structure and enjoy the scenery. Children ages six and under are admitted at no charge.
Flounder and king mackerel become strong in May and usually last well into the summer. Guana River State Park has good surf fishing but also boasts a brackish lake noted for flounder and trout. And that's just the tip of the hook when it comes to fishing in Northeast Florida.
But you won't catch anything sitting down and reading this. Come to Jacksonville. Get out there, bait your hook and cast your line.
License To Fish
The law says anyone who takes, attempts to take or possesses marine fish for non-commercial purposes must have a license. However, you don't need a license if you're a Florida resident 65 years of age or older, under 16 years of age, fishing from a boat that has a valid recreational vessel saltwater fishing license or if you're a Florida resident fishing from land or a structure fixed to the land. For saltwater fishing regulations in our area, contact the Florida Marine Patrol field office at (904) 270-2500.