For the past two years Malcolm and I have been on a quest to discover Florida, one beach at a time. The discovery we made this week was purely by accident as we were in route to visit Big Talbot Island State Park near Amelia Island. Our route took us down scenic Heckscher Drive, along the banks of the St. Johns River. We were at the top of a bridge when off to the right and across a large expanse of water, I spotted sand dunes. Could we be that close to the Atlantic Ocean? Much to my surprise, there seemed to be vehicles near the dunes. Once over the bridge, we made a quick U-turn and headed back to investigate. Yes, there is a road out there. We slowed and looked for an entrance.
Welcome to Huguenot Memorial Park
We paid the $5 entrance fee and followed the road, paved at first and then nothing but sand. As we passed several primitive camp sites, a visitor center and a small playground we knew we had stumbled onto a special place. Cargo ships to the right, and paddle boarders to the left created a mind boggling juxtaposition. Still no ocean. As we neared the sand dunes, the road began to fade away and become one with the most expansive beach I have ever seen in Florida.
It was low tide; perfect for a leisurely drive on the beach. Much like the beaches of Daytona, the sand here is packed and the beach is wide and welcoming.
Day trippers were just beginning to arrive and set up camp for the day. We parked the car and walked about a quarter mile down the beach. A couple of locals noticed my camera and said that we might want to check out the point, where the birds gather to feed.
Well, that was a good idea. As always, Malcolm loves creating havoc with the birds while I stand back and snap the shot.
We walked and talked and enjoyed the breezy morning, forgetting that we’d lost our way just a little. I love how joy happens when you are on your way to somewhere else.
The pure, white sand dunes were everything I’d hoped for when I spotted them miles away.
Cheers to happy accidents and a husband who indulges my whims!
After leaving the beach, we continued north on A1A. Next stop, Big Talbot Island State Park. The park is well marked, with a paved parking lot and there is no charge to enter here.
The walking trail begins at the parking lot on the upper part of the Bluff and continues down the length of the beach. There is a beach access trail within a few yards of the entrance and another one further down. Preferring to walk on the sand, we took the earlier access. High tide was starting to come in, and we did not get the full effect of Bones Beach as this area is referred to by locals. But, we got the idea. It reminds me of a smaller scale version of Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.
Fun fact: there is another state park along this same route named Little Talbot Island State Park. Ironically, it has a bigger land mass than Big Talbot. We stopped there, but the ranger said that mostly it is a great place to spend a day at the beach or go camping. Having already had time at Huguenot Beach, we decided to pass.
Note: Next time we will take the bikes, park at Amelia Island Park and ride South, along the bike trail to Little Talbot Island for a day at the beach.
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If you go:
10980 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, Florida
Big Talbot Island State Park – 20 miles East of Jacksonville on A1A