Known as one of the best places to surf in northeastern Florida, Neptune Beach belongs to the Jacksonville Beaches community, which are most easily described as Jacksonville suburbs. Separated from the main city by the Intracoastal Waterway, Neptune Beach offers a clean, beautiful coastline with natural sand dunes and accessible public parking. It provides a kind of local charm that the more crowded beaches, such as Jacksonville Beach, can’t, offering less commercial development and more of a quaint, residential feel. However, Neptune Beach does provide its own collection of shops and enjoyable oceanside-dining for those seeking to escape the strong, Florida sun.
Located to the south of Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach is a slightly more crowded residential resort and business neighborhood. In the busy summer season, the Beaches Trolley shuttle system travels along the coast, and will provide transportation to other, local beaches. This beach’s shoreline stretches on for miles, providing plenty of sand for all of its visitors. After sunbathing or taking a dip in the warm Atlantic Ocean, beach-goers may want to explore the long, Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, which extends almost a quarter of a mile into the deep, blue-green waters of the sea. Others might catch a live concert at the Sea Walk Pavilion between the months of April and October, or head over to tee up at the PGA Tour managed Golf Club of Jacksonville, one of the top public golf courses in the area.
Home to one of the best golf courses in Florida, Ponte Vedra also has some of the best beach resorts in all of Jacksonville. The PGA Tour and The Players Championship are played here at the TPC Sawgrass, although Ponte Vedra is also famous for its 40-foot sand dunes. Sea glass and shark tooth seekers will be satisfied with this abundantly stocked coastline that is, more often than not, relatively uncrowded and peaceful. Ponte Vedra also features miles of fresh water creeks and marshes throughout its natural, undeveloped areas, while the beach also offers a number of boutique shopping and fine-dining options.
Huguenot Memorial Park
Part of the Jacksonville Park System, Huguenot Memorial Park is a favorite among locals, and situated on Fort George island just northeast of downtown Jacksonville. Huguenot Park is unique in the area because it allows its visitors to drive straight onto the sand and park on the beach. Huguenot offers white sands and decent, surfable swells, in addition to beautiful scenery and a smaller, secluded beach nearby where cars are not allowed to park. For bird-lovers and history enthusiasts, Huguenot Memorial Park is on the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is also home to the 19th century Kingsley Plantation. Finally, there are very affordable camping sites available on the beach for those who simply cannot bear to leave at the end of the day.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Little Talbot Island State Park is located on a small, barrier island northeast of Jacksonville, and is the perfect nature retreat from the urban Jacksonville setting, as it is one of the only remaining undeveloped islands in northern Florida. Fishing, hiking, surfing and kayaking in the clean waters surrounding the island are the most popular activities for visitors. Little Talbot also provides 40 campsites for motor homes and tents along its more than five miles of gorgeous, white sand. The Little Talbot Hiking Trail showcases the beauty of the island and its different habitats that range from salt marshes to maritime forests to sand dunes.