I have vacationed at the Omni Resort on Amelia Island, and I visit friends who live at Fernandina Beach about once a year.
1. Dress for Comfort
Wear something comfortable and breathable (e.g., a sundress). Jeans aren't recommended during the summer, day or night. You'll be too uncomfortable wearing them in the humidity.
This is a beach town and not a party city. Ladies, don't pack your high heels and tight, short dresses for a night out on the town. People dress very casually on Amelia Island.
2. Be Prepared for Some Serious Sun
Regardless of what skin tone you have, you'll most likely want to get some sun before your trip so that it isn't so shocked upon your arrival. The sun is strong, and you'll get burned if you don't take proper precautions. Apply 50 SPF sunscreen frequently if you plan on staying at the beach all day, and wear a hat and cover-up. Or better yet, sit under an umbrella!
When to Go for a Stroll
The best time to take a walk or go for a run is early in the morning or in the evening. It gets extremely hot starting around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. and doesn't start cooling down again until after dinner time.
3. Guard Against Bug Bites
You'll be at risk of getting bit by multiple bugs any time you set foot outside. This is especially true if you're planning to go to or near a marsh. But that doesn't mean you need to let your skin soak in the awful chemicals of bug spray.
The locals that live on Amelia Island use the bath oil Skin So Soft before they go out, and they swear by it. I've used it myself, and it really does work! You just need to use a couple of sprays here and there. It's an oil-based solution, and a little will go a long way.
4. Be Wary of Alligators and Snakes
Be aware of your surroundings when you're walking on trails. Alligators like to hide and soak up the sun near water sources. Snakes can be found anywhere. Personally, I've seen more alligators on Amelia Island walking through greenways than I have snakes.
If you plan on bringing your dog on vacation, make sure they're always on a leash. I do this even when I'm taking my dog out in my friend's backyard. You never know what could be lurking around in the woods. I would rather be over cautious than have my dog hurt or worse because I was careless.
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5. Know That Service at Restaurants Can Be Slow
There are a lot of wonderful restaurants on Amelia Island. However, some of these great places are on island time. There is no excuse for it, but there are some places where the servers take their time tending to you.
Don't be afraid to get someone's attention to tell them that you haven't been helped yet. This is your vacation that you worked hard for all year long. If they aren't giving you quality service, there is nothing wrong with you letting them know that. In fact, my friends and I have walked out of two places after waiting a long time for someone to just give us a menu.
6. Educate Yourself About Sharks
Sharks are always going to be in the ocean. The important thing is to be aware of when it's off-limits to go into the water.
- Don't go out during sharks' feeding times. These times are very early in the morning and late in the evening. It's best to wait until 11:00 am to go into the water to be on the safe side.
- Regardless of what time of day it is, get out of the water if you see fish jumping out. If could be nothing, or it could be something. Chances are, the fish are jumping out of the water to escape something chasing after them.
- Refrain from splashing to the best of your ability. This can catch a shark's attention.
- Don't wear jewelry that sparkles or shines. The famous surfer Bethany Hamilton got her arm bit off by a shark most likely because of the watch she was wearing.
It also makes me feel safer to be in the water when I see dolphins swimming in the distance. Dolphins are known to fight off sharks.
7. Be Careful About Drinking Alcohol at the Beach
Be careful when making the decision to drink alcohol on the beach. Glass bottles on public beaches aren't tolerated. This is strictly enforced, and you'll get fined if you make the decision to bring one on the beach.
Law enforcement will also be watching you closely to see if you are going to get behind the wheel and drive drunk. Even if you're going to walk back to the place you are staying, they may stop you for questioning if you're acting abnormally on the beach.
8. Respect the Wildlife
Have respect for this beautiful island. You may be just visiting, but there are people that actually live there. These are things you should be doing anyway, but pick up your trash at the beach and other places. Pollution is no joke, and it's killing aquatic animals everywhere. You'll also notice that the restaurants in town either give you a paper straw or no straw at all.
In addition, keep your kids and yourselves away from marked areas of turtle nests and other precious wildlife. Everything on the beach that's to be stayed away from will be marked with yellow tape. You should also put any aquatic animal, like a starfish, back in the water if it's still alive. It's cruel to take it out of its habitat just so you can display it somewhere in your home.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jackie Zelko