Several state parks in the area offer overnight camping for a small fee. On Amelia Island, Fort Clinch State Park, a popular Civil War site and natural area, is a popular, affordable campsite in an area where hotels can be quite expensive. There are also campsites on nearby Little Talbot Island State Park, just south of Amelia Island, across the causeway.
With 13 miles of beaches, Amelia Island is a favorite among seashell collectors. Most finds lie along the high-tide mark after the water has retreated. Locals also collect shark teeth, actually fossils from sharks that swam in the waters here 10 million years ago. From May to October, loggerhead and green turtles nest on Amelia Island beaches. Locals and visitors can assist the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch in monitoring the nests and hatchlings.
The island attracts birdwatchers from around the globe, many drawn by the large number of waders, gulls and shorebirds. The marshes on the west side of the island and the eastern beaches are popular spots--the early morning and late afternoon are the best time to observe the birds. Willow Pond Trail in Fort Clinch State Park offers an intimate view of the maritime hammock terrain and the birds and butterflies that live there.
Canoeing and kayaking are popular on Amelia Island and the surrounding islands. Rentals are available at Amelia Island State Park and Little Talbot Island State Park, and KayakAmelia offers tours, lessons and equipment rental.
The Amelia Island Runner's Club offers advice on where to run locally. Favorite runs include shaded, quiet trails in Fort Clinch State Park and a run through historic Fernandina Beach with its Victorian homes and old town center. For a run of a different sort, the Kelly Seashore Ranch in Little Talbot Island State Park offers surfside horse riding.
Several nature-tour operators offer group or individual river tours of the waters surrounding the barrier islands. Visitors can spot dolphins, manatees and alligators, and some operators offer offshore views of the wild horses on their nearby Cumberland Island preserve. There also are several fishing outfitters on Amelia who offer everything from fly fishing to deep sea tours, lessons and equipment.
Shrimping is still a major industry on Amelia Island, and islanders celebrate their fishing heritage in late April or early May at the annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. One popular event during the festival is the "pirate invasion," when locals, dressed as pirates, come ashore and celebrate with beverages and song. The annual blessing of the fleet also takes place during the festival.