My Home Beach

Amelia Island home away from home

Do you have a beach that you consider your home beach? I don’t mean one where you actually live. I’m talking about a beach you’ve been going to for so many years that it practically feels like home – your home beach, if you will.

I have a home beach. It’s Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. It’s the state’s northernmost Atlantic beach, and I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. It’s only about two and a half hours away, so we can get there in no time at all! I guess I often feel like calling Amelia Island home - or at least my home away from home.

I’ve watched my home beach grow from a little fishing village to a sprawling resort town, with numerous Amelia Island vacation rentals. I remember when I was a child, there were only two hotels at Fernandina Beach, and only one of those, the Ocean Terrace, was actually a beachfront hotel. That’s where we almost always stayed. Actually, I guess it was more of a motel. It had a pool in front, and across the back, on the ocean side, there was a huge cement deck with grills, picnic tables, and lounge chairs. I can close my eyes and picture it still – a turquoise cinderblock building with a neon sign in front.

Once in a while, if there were a bunch of us going, we'd rent one of the Fernandina Beach houses or check out other rentals on Amelia Island. most of my memories, however, are of the Ocean Terrace.

My family and I used to make the trip at least once every summer, sometimes more. Often, my extended family members like aunts, uncles, and cousins would join us there. I guess it was their home beach, too.

We spent our days on the wide beach swimming, searching for shells, building sandcastles, playing ball, snorkeling, and riding the waves on boogie boards – only we didn’t call them that back then. Every day, just after lunch, we’d hear the jingle of the ice cream man. This was a real novelty to us – we didn’t have such in our hometown. We’d rush out to the truck with our nickels and dimes to purchase frozen treats, and then we’d try to eat them before they melted in the hot summer sun and dribbled down the front of our swimsuits.

In the evenings, my dad and uncles would usually cook dinner on the grill, and after eating, my brother, my cousin, and I would spend a couple of hours in the motel pool. The water was always so warm and inviting, I always hated getting out. In knew that when I stepped into our motel room I would be freezing. My dad took full advantage of the “free” air conditioning!

After the Ritz Carlton and Amelia Island Plantation came to town, the influx of tourists increased exponentially. When Chris Evert Lloyd was in her prime, she lived at the Plantation, and many top-notch tennis tournaments were held there. This brought in even more visitors. I almost felt as if these strangers were intruding on “my” home beach turf. And worst of all, the Ocean Terrace was torn down.

I know that sounds silly, but that’s how I felt. Fortunately, much of the “urban touristy sprawl” has kept to the Plantation part of the island. The northern part of Amelia that I loved so as a kid is much the same as it was in the sixties. There are some new oceanfront condos, but they’re only seven stories tall, due to local codes.

Some of the very same stores and restaurants have been there for years. Some of the old beach houses haven’t changed much, either. This part of the island still has that small beach town feel. It’s hard to explain unless you have your own home beach.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things about FernandinaBeach was the long wooden public fishing pier. It had a bait shop and a restaurant on it. A hurricane took part of it, and a fire took another section or two. When Amelia-by-the-Sea purchased the land around the pier for their oceanfront condos, the pier was no longer open to the public. Only those who purchased one of the condos or rented one for vacation were allowed on the shortened pier. When I learned of this, I felt that I had lost an old friend.

As luck would have it, I became reunited with the pier. In 1980, our good friends, Beth and Randy Godwin, rented one of the oceanfront condos at Amelia-by-the-Sea for the entire month of September and invited us down for a week. It was great! Walking on the pier brought back so many childhood memories of happy family vacations and long hot days in the glorious Florida sun, I truly felt that I was home again, back at my home beach.

Since that reunion in 1980, we’ve gone to FernandinaBeach and AmeliaIsland many times, and we always stay at the oceanfront condos at the pier – not just for the memories, but also for the great fishing. My husband and I are both avid saltwater anglers, as are several of our family members. Sometimes we go for a few days, sometimes for a week, and sometimes for two weeks at the time. When I cross the Shave Bridge that connects the island to the mainland, I feel like I’ve been transported into another world – one without cares, without stress, where nothing bad can happen, there in my Amelia Island home.

Many vacationers enjoy going new places every year, and we do this sometimes, too. But we keep returning to our home beach, where we know where the fish are, where to catch bait with our nets, where to shop, and where the best restaurants are. We never have to ask for directions – we know where everything is. My three children always loved Fernandina, and to them, it was the only beach they knew when they were young. “Beach” meant Fernandina in our family. It’s comfortable and familiar, much like re-reading a favorite book or poem.

In all honesty, we now have a second home beach. We’ve fallen in love with Florida’s Redneck Riviera and have been renting a big beach house there every year. We usually get one between MexicoBeach and St. Joe Beach. I’ll admit, the beach and the water here is much prettier than those on AmeliaIsland, but somehow, part of me always feels like I’m betraying my original home beach a little – like I should be on AmeliaIsland instead of on the gulf coast. But I haven’t forgotten FernandinaBeach. We still try to squeeze in a trip or two there every year, also.

I think I’ve decided that MexicoBeach – St. Joe Beach is the best beach for the grandkids. The water is shallow, with no drop-offs, and the waves are gentle. There’s also no undertow, and the sand is soft and dazzling white. The water is almost always as clear as glass, too. It’s not nearly as “touristy” as AmeliaIsland, either, which is another plus. So why does my heart keep tugging me back to FernandinaBeach? The sand isn’t as white, the beach is eroded, the water isn’t always clear, and the waves and undertow are sometimes powerful. Why do I feel the urge to keep returning to AmeliaIsland year after year? Because it’s my home beach. My memories, my childhood days are buried there in the sand, and no amount of spring tides can wash them away.

The pier at dawn.
The pier at dawn.
My favorite place on earth!
My favorite place on earth!
My home beach.
My home beach.

More by this Author


Comments 38 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Hello, habee, and wow, I am the first one. That doesn't happened very often. Thank you for your lovely memories shared with us. According to the pictures it is beautiful.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Habee: Amelia is so sweet. I never thought of it as redneck riviera, but ok with me!! LOL


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

For me it's Orient Beach (not the nude part) in St. Martin. It's beautiful and it's loaded with amenities.


Ign Andy profile image

Ign Andy 6 years ago from Green Home Office

Seminyak beach in Bali is my favorite, the last time I went there a year ago. Beautiful beach, great local culture. You hub made me miss that beach :)


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

My 'beach home' is Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. It's nothing like yours, though. Very New England, old cottages built close, and a few blocks of stores selling food, t-shirts, and so on. There's nothing over about 3 stories high, and nothing on the beach side of the road. Most of the people who go there are working-class, and it's a good place for families. What can I say? Like you, I love the place.


Justine76 6 years ago

I just love the beach. :) I have a "home beach" but haven't been in years. I hope to go this summer. Great hub!!


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Habee, redneck riviera that's interesting, I love beaches.


lctodd1947 profile image

lctodd1947 6 years ago from USA

Sounds like fun to me Habee, when do I pack? hee hee...wonderful post thank you. My son fishes and always, always catches them. He dresses them and cooks them also...


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Oh wow! You always make me dream big, Habee! I have a special little town that I want to visit someday and of course it's on the beach! Now I shall think of it ten times more! Great, beautiful hub!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you, HH! I thought you were always first? lol


mbwalz profile image

mbwalz 6 years ago from Maine

That was a lovely hub habee!

I have a beach here in Maine (only those with no fully developed nervous system can go in the water here in Maine before August). We used to drive an hour as a kid - mom and me in the Vista Cruiser - to go there. My mom (adopted) was part Native American so she browned up in 10 mins.

Now I take my kids there and they whine, "Come on mommmm, come in the water!!"

Thanks for sharing your memories!


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

I love that your home beach on Amelia Island is my favorite beach that I used to go with my grandparents ever year! :)


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

No, Chris, the Redneck Riviera is on the panhandle!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sounds great, Bpop!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Andy, I've never been there, but I've seen pics - Gorgeous!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sheila, it sounds lovely! I've always wanted to see New Hampshire.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Justine, I hope you get to go!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

susan, the Redneck Riviera is beautiful!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Ictodd, we do a lot of fishing, too! Nothing like fried or broiled fillets right out of the ocean!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Ann. Every beach lover needs a home beach!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

MB, I've heard you guys have some frigid water! I prefer mine about 85 degrees! lol


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Herbi, how cool that we have the same home beach!!


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

What a wonderful story. You made me wish I lived closer to the beach. I haven't been to one since I was sixteen. I went on vacation with my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and his family. He had family that lived in Mississippi. On one day of our vacation we drove into Lousianna and visited the Audubon zoo and the French Quarter. But we spent most of our vacation in Biloxi. It was a really good trip and I would love to go back. I think my kids would really enjoy walking on the beach and looking for shells.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Nancy, we all LOVE the beach - except for my oldest daughter and her family. They're allergic to the sun.


Dialogue 6 years ago

Some beautiful pictures, especially the pier. I can understand why you love the place. Thank you for sharing.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you for reading and commenting, Dialogue!


stephensaldana profile image

stephensaldana 6 years ago from Chicago

I have always wanted to have a home at beach.. You have made my day.. these beaches are awesome and having ahome out there is simply Aamzing.. Loved your hub.. Wish I will have a home one day :)


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

That looks fab Habee.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

My home beach as a child was Sea Side Heights, NJ. As an adult it is Ocean City Beach, NJ. Enjoyed this very much thanks for writing it.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I hope so, too, Stephen!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Ethel, my friend!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

thanks for reading it, Jen S!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

We have a couple - Cannon Beach, OR is always a favorite although you always have to wear a coat - no matter it seems what time of year! Seaside as well - great idea for a hub - I surely wish I was on one at the moment as it is still snowing or at least puffing like it wants to here!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Audrey, have you ever been to Florida's gulf coast??


crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI

Your home beach sounds lovely. Growing up my family went to several beaches in Florida. Daytona, Ormond, Venice, and Sanibel Island area. I have to say the Gulf has the most beautiful. It is hard to pick a home beach, I lived in Daytona Beach and still like to call it home. I enjoyed reading about your memories of your home beach. They make me miss the south.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Crazy. I like Daytona, but the gulf is awesome!


susieq 6 years ago

Glad to see this post.....was considering going to Fernandina Beach due to the oil slick approaching the gulf coast.....but worried that we will be so disappointed! After decades of loving our home beach, the Florida panhandle, it's beaches and water quality, just don't see how Amelia Island can possibly compare! Guess I'll continue to watch and wait!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Susie, sometimes the water at Fernandina is clear, especially if the wind is coming out of the northeast. The beach next to the Ft. Clinch pier is the best for kids. I have more articles about Fernandina and Amelia Island on here, if you're interested. Thanks for reading!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working