Skip to main content

Amelia Islander

2015 Fun in the Summer Sun Guide

Jul 08, 2015 03:45PM
Our coastal community comes alive during the summer months, jam-packed with fun activities and great entertainment. Here on Amelia Island, summer lasts longer than any other place on the earth. With its temperate climate and cool ocean breezes, our island paradise is a favorite summer vacation destination—and the fun continues into fall and winter! Summer is the time of the year when we turn off the television, put away the video games, and head out to the beach, the golf course, or even the spa. When most of Florida is suffering with summer’s high temperatures, Amelia Island is the place where even Southerners seek respite from the heat, and to find a little fun under the summer sun. No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something new and exciting to occupy these long, glorious summer days!

[heading style="subheader"]On the Water[/heading] Amelia River Cruises & Charters (904-261-9972) offers distinctive and richly historic narrated sightseeing cruises from Fernandina Beach’s downtown marina to the breathtaking views of Cumberland Island, Georgia. The tour guides’ captivating stories of Amelia and Cumberland Islands will enrich your coastal experience, and there are many other cruise options, including sunset tours and an eco shrimping tour. Amelia Boat Club (904-572-3216) offers a hassle-free and convenient way to enjoy boating, featuring a variety of boats, gear, and accessories to choose from so that members and clients can spend some quality time on the water. Amelia Boat Club also offers jet ski rentals.

Jump on one of Flying Fish Adventures’ (904-310-5999) Yamaha Waverunners and take a cruise on a  guided jet ski tour. You are likely to see porpoises, manatees, the wild horses of Cumberland, turtles, and the wild birds that inhabit the Amelia River. Flying Fish Adventures likes to call their trips “eco tours at the speed of fun!”

At Kayak Amelia (904-251-0016), you can roll with it, flow with it, and stand on it through a variety of guided kayak tours, bicycle and stand-up paddle board rentals, and Segway excursions. Kayak Amelia is the official concessionaire in Talbot Islands State Parks, helping folks spend time in the local environment and learn the stories of the critters that live there.

Windward Sailing (904-327-3265) will help you relax, unwind, make memories with your family, or enjoy some romantic time on the water with sailing excursions, overnight trips, and even sailing lessons. Join Captain Terry Lacoss at Amelia Angler (904-261-2870) for the best in sport fishing, boating, sailing, and sightseeing opportunities for groups, families, and even hard-core “big game” anglers.

Backwater Adventure Amelia Island (904-753-7631) offers one of the most unique boat tours you’ll ever go on, piloting one of your own Craigcat boats, which are very safe and easy to operate. It’s a great way to explore Amelia and Cumberland Island’s wildlife and sealife on the water.

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions (904-557-5307) is a family-owned and operated kayaking business offering guided tours through Amelia Island waters, the Okefenokee Swamp, and the St. Marys and Suwannee rivers. They enjoy helping guests have a fun, informative, and relaxing experience while exploring the natural settings of the area.

[heading style="subheader"]Off the Beaten Track[/heading] Friends of the Amelia Island Trail have completed a bike trail that traverses the island, allowing visitors to travel by bike or on foot safely. They also offer organized bike rides for all ages and abilities. Their latest map can be found at www.ameliaislandtrail.org. And check www.nfbc.us for more details on the many group rides sponsored by the North Florida Bicycle Club. A short day trip from Amelia Island, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world’s most unspoiled, fascinating, and precious natural areas. It is the largest, intact, un-fragmented, freshwater and black water wilderness swamp in North America, and Okefenokee Adventures (866-843-7926) will help you explore this beautiful wilderness area with boat tours, naturalist walks, fishing opportunities, and even overnight camping trips.

Amelia Island Transportation and Trolleys (904-753-4486) invites visitors to travel around Amelia Island in style. Experienced trolley drivers offer a glimpse into the history of Fernandina Beach and can provide private tours in addition to their regularly scheduled tours. Amelia Island Transportation has also launched a public transportation trolley that will start at Front and Centre Street, and loop around the island from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Stay ‘N Country Ranch (904-322-9739) offers beautiful and scenic beach rides by horseback along the shore near The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Take a relaxing ride near the waterfront for an hour, or try a tranquil trail ride through winding paths over 100 acres for a chance to see deer, wild turkeys, beautiful birds, and nature at its best.

The road to adventure is seldom paved, and neither are the local maritime forests, state parks, and green spaces located in and around Amelia Island. And there are eight of them! Fort Clinch State Park, Egans Creek Greenway, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, Big Talbot Island State Park,and George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park make up a remarkable wilderness experience for the whole family, including hiking, biking, fishing, camping, picnicking, bird watching, and more.

[heading style="subheader"]SUP, Surf, and Savasana[/heading] Stand-up paddleboards are all the rage, and anyone can learn how to do it. The great thing about stand-up paddle boarding is that it offers a full body workout that no other sport can match. And if you’re looking for a new dimension to this beautiful sport, Kayak Amelia (904-251-0016) offers SUP Yoga in a private lagoon, which combines yoga and paddle boarding together.

For a balancing act that’s a bit more daring, surfing is a great way to spend your days at the beach and catch some waves at the same time. Surfing is for all ages, and don’t let those youngsters intimidate you! Beach Rentals and More & The Beach Store (904-310-6124) rents surfboards, paddle boards, and boogie boards and will even arrange a surfing lesson. In addition, they also rent bikes, beach umbrellas, and they have a complete beach shop for all your summer needs.

Go Yoga Amelia Island (904-335-0539) offers daily yoga classes, workshops, teacher training, private instruction, beachside yoga, “bachelorette” and family reunion yoga, corporate seminars, and even free yoga to connected and wounded warriors. Yoga is for everyone of all ages and abilities. It’s a non-competitive mindful practice, and poses can be modified to meet each person’s needs.

[heading style="subheader"]Up, Up in the Air[/heading] Are you ready to feel the excitement of skydiving at 120 mph? Skydive Amelia Island (904-718-4648) can provide you with a tandem skydiving adventure that deposits you two miles high in the sky. On your skydive you will see miles of beach views and the splendor of North Florida, and your instructor will even provide you with a video of your jump.

If you’re looking for another bird’s eye view of our beautiful island, Air Amelia (877-WEDOFLY) has numerous ways to take you up, up, and away. Powered hang gliding, otherwise known as trike flying, is an experience in freedom and excitement that is unmatched. Flying up to a thousand feet or more, you will experience aerial views of Amelia Island unlike any others.

[heading style="subheader"]Go For the Greens[/heading] Florida boasts the best golf courses in the country, and Amelia Island is no exception. The Fernandina Beach Golf Club (904-310-3175) is conveniently located and their facility boasts 27 holes, a full-service restaurant, and clubhouse, and one of the most popular municipal golf clubs in the country. The Golf Club at North Hampton (904-548-0000) is an Arnold Palmer signature Course that is challenging and enjoyable for persons of all skill levels.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Golf (904-277-5907) offers a first class golf experience for members and guests, with three championship courses, including Oak Marsh, Ocean Links, and Long Point. The Amelia River Golf Club (904-491-8500) is known for its smooth TifEagle greens, and is one of the most prestigious clubs in North Florida.

On the lighter side, try your putting skills at Island Falls Adventure Golf (904-261-7881), a vertically challenging and fun family mini-golf course for the young and the young at heart.

[heading style="subheader"]Fun and Games[/heading] At the Amelia Island Nature Center (904-261-6161), join an experienced naturalist on a bike, Segway, or kayak tour discovering birds, edible plants, and local critters. Amelia Island Nature Programs are available for all ages and levels of experience and offered daily. Before you leave, build your very own Tanner the Turtle (resort mascot) doll at the Build-A-Turtle station.

Have you tried petanque? This fascinating game originated in France, but it has taken Amelia Island by storm. A petanque court is located downtown near the harbor and another can be found at Central Park. Petanque America (800-682-2557) can help you get started, and even help you find others to play with.

The Jacksonville Triathlon Series (352-637-2475) began in June, with two more events held July 18 and August 8, right here on Amelia Island. Swim 1/4 mile in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean with a fresh water shower. Then bike the flat, fast, course along the coastline of scenic Amelia Island, and run out and back through tree-covered Fort Clinch.

The City of Fernandina Beach operates two recreation centers—Atlantic Recreation Center (904-310-3350) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center (904-310-3358) — and both offer aquatics, fitness, and other family activities. McArthur Family YMCA (904-261-1080) provides swim lessons, youth and adult sports, summer specialty camps, and personal training so you and your family will stay fit and busy this summer, and all year!

[heading style="subheader"]Treat Yourself[/heading] If you’re lucky enough to be staying at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation or The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, both resorts offer plenty of amenities and concierge services. But many activities are also open to the public, including the Omni’s Boardwalk Bash every Friday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. The Omni’s Spa (877-843-7722) will also help you unwind after a long day of summer activities.

If you’ve spent all day having fun the sun, perhaps it’s time to enjoy a little art, music, theatre, or dining. Strolling the streets in historic downtown Fernandina Beach and stopping by a local watering hole or eatery is a great way to end a busy day. Many of the local pubs and restaurants have live music, featuring some of the best local bands around. If you love live theater, Amelia Community Theatre (904-261-6749) and Fernandina Little Theatre (904-206-2607) present local talent in new and familiar plays.

While you’re downtown, visit many of Amelia Island’s beautiful galleries and antique shops. Check out the Amelia Islander Magazine’s “Galleries & Antiques” page for a list of the area’s finest shops for local paintings, sculpture, jewelry, textile designs, plus antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Island Art Association (904-261-7020) also offers summer classes, open studio hours, children’s art programs, and more. And each second Saturday of the month, enjoy a special Artrageous Artwalk from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., taking visitors to many galleries in the downtown area. The Amelia Island Museum of History (904-261-7278) is located in the old jail and boasts its own colorful past, in addition to the pirates, bawdy women, and rich history presented by its interesting docents and exhibits. On the Discovery Ship, “Margery,” children will learn about knot tying and be able to pilot their own ship, among other interactive activities.

There are plenty of places to shop around the island. If you’re staying at one the local bed & breakfast inns, (www.ameliaislandinns.com) be sure to check out the myriad of specialty items at Fernandina Beach’s downtown shops. Other places to shop include Palmetto Walk and The Shops at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. And be sure to visit Amelia Island Farmers Market there, open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for fresh local produce and handcrafted items.

For more information on Amelia Island summer activities, call the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce at (904) 261-3248. And be sure to check out Amelia Islander Magazine’s blog, which features weekly activities and more summer fun, at www.ameliaislander.com.