A barrier island just off the coast of Florida a few miles north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is the perfect place for an uncrowded ocean getaway. The island features 13 miles of beaches, several top-notch golf courses, and two popular state parks for you to explore. Whether you’re looking forward to horseback rides on the beach, kayaking on the rivers, or just relaxing on the sand, Amelia Island and the surrounding areas have something for the whole family. Cottages, laid-back resorts, and quaint beach-side villas abound in these nine great Amelia Island vacation rental locations, offering the best places to stay on your next trip.

1. Amelia Island Central

horseback riding
Source: Flickr/stevbach1

Once you cross the bridge onto Amelia Island, the central town area welcomes you with supermarkets, coffee shops, and seaside restaurants as well as easy access to the beach. Tee off at Fernandina Beach Golf Club, or enjoy a family picnic at Seaside Park. Several cozy inns and hotels line Sadler Road, and you can find plenty of multi-story beach rentals with balconies facing the water and boardwalk access to the beach.

2. Fernandina Beach

docks
Source: Flickr/Jack Kennard

Situated on the north side of Amelia Island, this popular tourist spot offers endless family entertainment. Head to Fort Clinch State Park to explore the old fort, enjoy a relaxing bike ride along the trails, or comb for shells on the beach. At Fernandina Harbor Marina on Amelia River, enjoy cruises, fishing charters, and sailboats for a day on the water. On the opposite shoreline, kick back at Main Beach Park or enjoy some water skiing, jet skiing, and kayak tours. Fernandina Beach also houses art galleries and museums, including the Shrimping Museum and the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island. For even more fun, take the kids to explore Pirate Playground, or catch a performance at the Amelia Community Theater.

3. Amelia City

amelia island
Source: Flickr/Michael Kappel

Offering a more relaxed beach vacation experience, Amelia City lies just south of the central island area, featuring upscale resorts and beach hotels away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular tourist areas. Here, you can stop by Peters Point Beachfront Park to stroll along beach boardwalks to the sandy shoreline. This is also a great place to spot sea turtles or practice your swing at the Golf Club of Amelia Island.

4. American Beach

american beach
Source: Flickr/NatalieMaynor

Nestled just south of Amelia City, American Beach is another laid-back area known for its empty stretches of unspoiled white-sand beaches.
Step down to the beach from your rental to hunt for sand dollars in the morning, and take the time to read the plaques to learn about the beach’s rich history.

5. Franklintown

franklintown
Source: Flickr/Jon Dawson

This community on the southern tip of Amelia Island features winding roads through overgrown forests, and the beaches here boast a private atmosphere. Book a rental at one of the secluded resorts or beachfront villas, and enjoy dinner with a view at one of the oceanside grills and cafes. Be sure to spend some time at Amelia Island State Park, where you can cast a line at George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier, fish in the surf, enjoy horseback rides along the beach, and comb for shark teeth along the shoreline.

6. O’Neal

guptill house
Source: Flickr/Trish Hartmann

Located just across the bridge from Amelia Island, this small community offers more affordable rentals for a budget-friendly beach vacation. Staying here puts you just minutes from the beautiful beaches, state parks and marinas of Amelia Island. Plus, O’Neal has its own appeal with its collection of amenities, hometown grills, and oyster bars.

7. Nassauville

canoeing kayaking
Source: Flickr/Florida Fish and Wildlife

This town just south of O’Neal charms visitors with homes and cottages tucked in the woods. It’s located on the shores of Nassau River, where you can lower your boat to cruise the water or enjoy some fishing between trips to Amelia Island’s beaches. Be sure to check out the historic Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church during your stay.

8. Yulee

yulee
Source: Flickr/Walter

Just west of O’Neal along with the highway, this charming gateway to Amelia Island offers plenty of budget-friendly accommodation options.
When you’re not kicking back on the beaches or embarking on an Amelia Island fishing charter, find plenty to enjoy your vacation rental in Yulee. Lofton Creek Outpost and Reflection Park is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic overlooking the water, and the Golf Club at North Hampton offers challenging courses designed by Arnold Palmer. Head to White Oak Conservation Center to see cheetahs and giraffes, or drive up to the Florida Welcome Center on I-95, an interstate which also provides easy access to the entertainment of Jacksonville.

9. St. Mary’s

st. marys waterfront
Source: Flickr/db rolenrock

This historic riverfront town lies just northwest of Amelia Island along the Florida- Georgia Line, accessible via I-95. Find charming inns and hotels steps away from St. Mary’s River, where you can embark on the Cumberland Island Ferry to reach the unspoiled wilderness of Cumberland Island. The barrier island features more than 50 miles of hiking trails and 18 miles of unspoiled beaches. You can also take a fishing boat or cruiser out on the water.