Discovering Florida – Huguenot Memorial Park

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.

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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.

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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.

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The pure, white sand dunes were everything I’d hoped for when I spotted them miles away.

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Cheers to happy accidents and a husband who indulges my whims!

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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.

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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.

You can read more of our Discover Florida series by clicking

Discover Florida on the header. 

 

If you go:

Huguenot Memorial Park

10980 Heckscher DrJacksonville, Florida

Big Talbot Island State Park  – 20 miles East of Jacksonville on A1A

 

 

20 Comments on “Discovering Florida – Huguenot Memorial Park

  1. Both are beautiful beaches and yet so different. Huguenot Memorial Park was a great find! Isn’t it fun to take a detour sometimes to discover something new?

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  2. Suzanne, I like your project of discovering Florida via visiting as many beaches as possible. I can imagine they are all stunning. Great serendipity moment, stumbling on a very unexpected place, a huge beach where you could even drive on the sand, that was certainly a lovely discovery. Beautiful photo of Malcolm with the birds. I also enjoyed Big Talbot 😄

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  3. Hi Suzanne, Often the best times are the unexpected times. A bonus that you could drive closer to the dunes. The photo of the beach area is spectacular. Also a great photo of Malcolm with the birds. I really like your sentence “I love how joy happens when you are on your way to somewhere else.” I will carry this thought with me. A beautiful post:)

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  4. I’m definitely putting “explore some new beaches” on my Florida to-do list. We consistently go to the same ones… I need to branch out and explore a bit more.

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  5. Such a beautiful discovery, Suzanne. It’s so wonderful that you can drive on the sand and got up close to the dunes. I now know to consult your blog for Florida gems. I’ve been to a few beaches in Florida. So far the ones near Destin impressed me the most. The sand there was as white as snow.

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    • Natalie, I love Destin and the beaches along 30A. Those are the only beaches in Florida which have that perfect sugar white sand. Tops’l Park and Grayton Beach are my favorite ‘off the beaten path’ beaches in that area. Huguenot had beautiful packed sand – great for driving!!

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  6. I love those moments of discovery we enjoy when we decide to go left, rather than right. I think the bike ride you have planned for a future visit sounds wonderful. Oh, and still can’t get used to seeing cars on the beach… not something we see around here.

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    • Janis, there aren’t many beaches in Florida where we can do that,(just a few on the East Coast) so when we stumble onto one I get a little excited!! That bike ride will happen sometime this fall. Just need for the temperature and humidity to drop a little. I didn’t clock the mileage, but round trip will probably be around 30 miles.

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  7. Any day that includes blue skies and fluffy white clouds is going to be picture perfect 🙂

    Like others have said, I’m still surprised by the ‘driving on the beach’ part!!

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    • Joanne, beach driving isn’t something I grew up with on the West coast, and it will never happen in South Florida,where I have lived for most of my life, so it is a bit of a phenomenon to us as well. When we get the chance, we go for it. You just have to be aware of high tide and get ready to roll!!

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  8. I’ve never been to Florida but the beaches look fantastic. Loved your photos and you’ve made me want to travel to Florida for sure. In Western Australia we have some awesome beaches too, and like you we are still allowed to drive 4WDs on many of them. #MLSTL

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    • Johanna, thanks for stopping by. I plan to see the beaches of Australia one day. The only thing holding me back is that darn long flight. We’re not getting younger, and the longer we wait the harder it will get, so I think it’s nearing time to go for it!

      Like

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