If life for some reason makes relocating to NE Florida an option, grab the chance with both hands. Few places on earth offer the colorful topnotch variety of work, live and play as you will find in our “neck of the woods”.
Even though Jacksonville and Duval County, 30 miles to the South for some undisclosed reason claim the title of Florida’s First Coast, the real First Coast is right here on Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach in Nassau County, the first county entering Florida from Georgia. That’s where we live, work and play. To the west of I-95 is rural north Florida with miles and miles of pine tree forests, Live Oaks and the Osceola Park. Some people would call it the Boondocks, but with a Walmart in every village, civilization has started penetrating in what used to be Indian Cherokee Territory, with the central county town of Callahan as a “tribal” center. The town of Hilliard lies 30 minutes to the North on the Georgia border and is very much in demand with the Navy because of nearby facilities.
To the east of I-95 however, it takes a short 10 miles to one of the most intriguing barrier islands in all of the South: Amelia Island and its historic town Fernandina Beach
have a very colorful history which even in this new century, still speaks loud. The Isle of Eight Flags was home to 8 different rulers over its turbulent history that dates back to the earliest settlements in the Americas in the mid 16th Century. There are history buffs who actually claim the Amelia Island was settled a couple of years before St.Augustine, 55 miles to the South of us, but the Spanish destroyed the French settlement on Amelia.
In the early 1800s Fernandina Beach was the first settlement in Spanish Florida and St.Marys, across the river in Georgia was the most southern point of the new United States of America. With the sentiments of colonial powers at constantly at odds, the waters around Amelia Island was a haven for smuggling and piracy. The many Pirate functions that are still part of our culture are a stern reminder of those days. In the early 1900s, Fernandina’s harbor attracted many Italian and Greek boatbuilders and since Shrimp was a major catch in the waters around us, these boatbuilders quickly figured out how to build boats for industrial shrimping, hence Fernadina Beach became the birthplace of modern shrimping, a fact that is celebrated annually with the Shrimp Festival in the first weekend of May, when more than 150,000 visitors descend upon the town for 3 days, eating fresh shrimp and enjoy the festivities (www.shrimpfestival.com).
Nassau County, which borders Duval County and the city of Jacksonville, has all the benefits and none of the burdens of that city. The International Jax Airport is 25 minutes by car to the Southwest and Jacksonville’s International Container Port Facilities with shipping facilities around the globe is a short 20 minutes to the South. Jacksonville has all the sports such as NFL team the Jaguars and worldclass entertainment while Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach can remain an oasis of peace and quiet because of this.
Tourism started sometime in the 1970s with the development of the now world renowned OMNI Amelia Island Plantation, more recently joined by an equally famous Ritz Carlton Hotel and Resort. A trip down Fletcher Drive on the Atlantic Ocean, the island has an uninterrupted stretch of 15 miles of pristine beach, will quickly reveal that scale is kept entirely small. No high rises, mostly privately owned beach houses, many public beach access areas, Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach were until recently the best kept secret on Florida’s east coast (no one really knows why it was not promoted more intensely).
A very unfortunate circumstance for Florida’s Panhandle has now revealed that secret drastically. When BP blew the Oil Leak in the Gulf of Mexico, many people who traditionally vacationed and owned in the Florida Panhandle from Panama City to Pensacola, decided to change their summer vacation to Amelia Island….and fell in love! Not only with the island and the beaches, but also with the diversity of activities.
All at once media from around the country came to see this little jewel and write about it.
• “Best Small Town Getaways” – Southern Living Magazine Oct. 2010
• “Best in the World Island” – Top 5 (3 years in a row) – Condé Naste Traveler’s Readers Award
• “Where America is Moving” – Forbes.com – June 2010
• “Best Little Beach Town” – Coastal Living – September 2010
A 90 minute drive on Jimmy Buffett’s A1A, including the Mayport Ferry will take you to St.Augustine for a fabulous day trip; a 30 minute Ferry ride north will take you to famous Cumberland Island and St.Marys Georgia. For that matter, if you’re an early riser, a two and a half hour drive will take you to DisneyWorld for a day with Donald and Mickey. If you want to learn more about all that we have to offer, than check out www.searchamelia.com and www.ameliaisland.com. You’ll be pleasantly amazed.
I sell real estate mostly east of Interstate 95 between the town of Yulee, Fernandina Beach and across Amelia Island. If you are on vacation, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to show what it means to own and live in this fabulous part of Florida. If you’re thinking of moving here or relocating business and life, after all this is the splendid part of Florida, you can contact me also via our sister company www.ameliaconcierges.com and we’ll be happy to meet you at the airport for a day, a weekend or a week of exploring.