Make no bones about it. Florida’s “Boneyard Beach” is a real find.
This expansive, scenic stretch of sand sandwiched between Jacksonville, Fla.’s Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean is a beachgoers paradise.
Dotted with the sun-bleached skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shoreline, Big Talbot Island Park’s “Boneyard” is a taste of raw beauty in place of common city beach fare.
Big Talbot is one of seven parks along Florida’s northeastern coast collectively known as the Talbot Islands State Parks system.
The parks include Little Talbot Island, Fort George Island, Amelia Island, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve, Yellow Bluff Fort and George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier. Most of the parks are located on one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Florida. Roughly a six-hour drive from Columbus, this beach destination is great for a summer getaway where relaxation is top priority.
The park system — located in the heart of the Timucaun Ecological and Historical Preserve — offers boating, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, fishing, camping, birding, picnicking and shelling, as well as hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
Photo-worthy sites extend from the salt-washed trees of Big Talbot to the vast sandy beaches of Little Talbot and the picturesque maritime forests of Amelia Island’s coast.
There aren’t many restaurants or hotels nearby so your best bet is to either hike back into Jacksonville for meals and accommodations, or camp at Little Talbot, which has a full-facility campground and recreational vehicle area.
Kids may enjoy a stop at Sweet Pete’s candy shop in downtown Jacksonville.
For dining, consider the city’s historic “Five Points” district in the Riverside neighborhood. You will find Japanese, Italian and Mediterranean dining establishments, as well as local coffee shops and burger joints along Park Street.
Many of the state parks rely on collection boxes and the honor system to pay fees so make sure to bring exact change. If you forget, you better make your first stop at Little Talbot, which staffs an attendant at the gate.
For more information, call 904-251-2320 or visit http://floridastateparks.org.