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Jacksonville Beaches

Okay. It’s not Miami nor is it Ft. Lauderdale. It’s not Naples or Destin… and it’s certainly not Palm Beach! But we’re here to pull back the curtain on Florida’s little secret. The Jacksonville beaches are a charming destination that are worth a visit!

By Les & Anne Heintz

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If you ask us, the Jacksonville beaches are Florida’s forgotten destination. The people who go there want to keep it that way! They like their north Florida easy lifestyle and don’t want it to change! But take it from us. This is worth a try… especially for families!

For this edition of TravelAnne, we spent most of our short time in the Jacksonville area on Amelia Island.

This gem of a destination just north of Jacksonville is worth a longer stay that we scheduled. True, it is further north and therefore cooler than its southern counterparts in the first three months of the year. But we find this lifestyle very appealing.

That said, this post is intended to offer a fuller review of the Jacksonville beaches as a whole. Trust us. There’s a lot to unpack about the Jacksonville beaches.

Here’s a “Cliff Notes” review!

Amelia Island

If you're looking for a tranquil getaway, take a good look at Amelia Island, along Florida's northeast coast. Thanks to its Buccaneer history, Amelia Island was once called “the backdoor to America” because it’s how pirates sneaked into Florida.

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, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.

Just 30 miles from Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a world apart. Golden-hued sands and guided horseback rides along the shore. See dolphin and osprey, and maybe even a glimpse of the endangered white whale.

All of this, plus luxury hotels and a wonderful selection of bed and breakfasts make Amelia Island the perfect spot for gentle recreation, historical exploration (it was controlled by France, Spain and England) or just enjoying a good book.

As the say in these parts… “The sand a little softer. The air a little crisper.”

Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island at Florida's northeast border, hosts the popular Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and is known for great golf.

Downtown Fernandina Beach also offers boutique shopping and a range of scrumptious restaurants. With 13 miles of pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and clear, calm waters.

Stories beckon from every corner of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach. This enchanting Victorian seaport village was once a stomping ground for pirates, Gilded Age millionaires, bootleggers, shrimpers, and other colorful characters.

Fernandina Beach is basically the town square of Amelia Island. Its quaint charm has been a beloved destination for generations. Its upscale resorts and world-class spas combine with a charming collection of bed and breakfasts, historic sites and captivating festivals for an experience that’s uniquely Floridian.

Atlantic Beach

Located in Northeast Florida, Atlantic Beach claims miles of laid-back beaches and close proximity to excellent golf, parks and the big-city energy of Jacksonville. Atlantic Beach shimmers with history, the site of what many experts believe was the first year-round Native American settlement in North America.

Now, the Atlantic Beach visitor finds houses and condos, a few hideaway hotels and a commercial strip or two, because everyone needs necessities from time to time. Also be sure to visit Hannah Park, a magnet for surfers, beachcombers, campers and bicyclists along Atlantic Beach's northern border, a place that keeps a bit of Old Florida alive.

Jacksonville Beach

Found along northeast Florida’s "First Coast," Jacksonville Beach offers vast stretches of gorgeous beach, a newly redesigned golf course, a famous fishing pier and boatloads of water activities.

Beach volleyball, surfing, fishing and a wide variety of eateries – Jacksonville Beach has it all. Visitors and natives alike are delighted by dolphins rolling just outside the surf line. Surfers are drawn to Jacksonville Beach by some of the best waves in the region.

Devoting some time to Jacksonville Beach and its surrounding attractions unearths a unique combination of history, leisure and recreational activities.

**Anne and Les Heintz are Co-founders of Anne is a Travel Advisor. Les is a television & media producer. They are based in Washington, DC and have been traveling the world since they met in high school more years ago than they care to admit. They can be reached at

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