This article was originally written in 2018 but has been updated in 2020 to include the latest info about the best beaches in Jacksonville, Flordia.
With 22 miles of white sand beaches, Jacksonville, Florida, is an ideal escape from busy city life. This is a perfect holiday destination, bursting with history, culture, and natural beauty.
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There are lots of hotels on the beach in Jacksonville FL so you won’t need to go far to enjoy Jacksonville Florida Beaches. However, to get the most out of your visit, stay somewhere central and explore each of the different beaches on day trips. You’ll need at least five days to see all the best beaches in Jacksonville FL.
1. Jacksonville Beach
Jacksonville Florida Beach has an incredible array of fun activities to entertain any type of beach bum. Located in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville Fl Beach offers beautiful beaches, a golf course, a well-known fishing pier – Jax Pier, and a variety of restaurants and shops.Jacksonville Beach, Florida attracts surfers from all over with some of the best waves in the area. The best surf spot is known to the locals as The Poles and is situated just outside of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.
Things to Do in Jacksonville Beach
- Go Surfing: Jacksonville Beach, Florida attracts surfers from all over with some of the best waves in the area. The best surf spot is known to the locals as The Poles and is situated just outside of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.
- Stroll the Sea Walk Pavilion: At night you can catch a movie or some live music here.
- Enjoy the nightlife: With its oceanfront clubs and bars, Jacksonville Beach is the nightlife capital of Jacksonville beaches. So hit the town!
- Visit the Jax Beach Pier: The Jacksonville Pier is nearly half of a kilometer long (a quarter of a mile) and offers incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also a popular fishing spot.
- Spend a Day at Oceanfront Park: Head for a day at the beach, make use of the picnic facilities and see the famous Jacksonville Beaches statue of a child riding a dolphin.
- Visit Shipwreck Island Jacksonville: Adventure Landing and Shipwreck Island Waterpark is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the little ones.
The Best Jacksonville Beach Hotels
- Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront: The Four Points Sheraton Jacksonville is a real crowd pleaser. It is located right on the beach and the rooms are comfortable and modern. At Four Points Sheraton Jacksonville Beach there are no substantial sustainable practices but their umbrella company is invested in sustainability and social impact projects which is a small step in the right direction.
- Casa Marina Jacksonville Beach: Casa Marina Jax Beach was recognized in 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the Historic Hotels of America. This upscale hotel is located right on Jacksonville Beach, was constructed in 1925, and has elegant rooms and great facilities.
2. Neptune Beach
A small coastal community, Neptune Beach Florida is a one-mile strip of beach located in the northeast in between Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. It was once a part of Jacksonville Beach but is now its own little unique beach community.
If a relaxing vacation is what you’re after, then this is probably the best beach in Jacksonville, FL for you. You could easily spend a full day here, enjoying beach activities all morning and early afternoon. Then hit the shops to cool off before heading out for dinner and drinks in this laid back town! Neptune Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Northeast Florida.
Things to Do in Neptune Beach
- Paddle Out: The water stays warm pretty much all year round and the waves are consistent making it a surfing hotspot.
- Rent a Bike: Biking is a popular activity around Neptune Beach and there are a plethora of Neptune Beach biking trails in the area.
- Go Shopping: There are endless boutique shops in Neptune Beach
- Watch the sunrise or sunset: Neptune Beach offers some of the most exceptional sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see!
- Wine and Dine: Neptune Beach offers the best of both worlds when it comes to Jacksonville beaches; it’s easy-going but with plenty of bars and nightlife, too!
The Best Neptune Beach Hotels
- Hampton Inn Jacksonville Ponte Vedra: The Hampton Inn Ponte Vedra Jacksonville is located close to Neptune Beach and is a great base for exploring the greater area of Jacksonville Beaches. At the Hampton Inn, Jacksonville Beach, the rooms are comfortable, there is an outdoor pool and a shuttle service for guests.
- Hotel Courtyard by Marriot: This upscale hotel has a tiki bar, a pool complex, and comfortable rooms right on the beach. Plus, it was named a Green Lodging Property and a Sea Turtle Eco-Friendly Hotel by the State of Florida!
3. American Beach
A well-known historical landmark, American Beach became popular from the mid-1930s as the place to be for African-American vacationers. Today, it is the first stop along the Florida Black Heritage Trail. This spot is ideal for a relaxing day on the beach and it is the best beach near Jacksonville Fl for a small dose of history.
The beach is located north of Jacksonville on Amelia Island which makes it one of the northernmost beaches near Jacksonville Florida. It feels a lot less crowded than some of the other public beaches in Jacksonville Fl but despite the quiet atmosphere, there are loads of things to do at and around American Beach Jacksonville FL.
Things to Do in American Beach
- Visit American Beach Museum: Learn about the history of American Beach and its legacy through interactive exhibits.
- Explore the Florida Black Heritage Trail: For a further dose of history and to learn about the “Beach Lady” explore the Florida Black Heritage Trail which has interpretive signage along the way.
- Soar Through the Sky with Florida Adventure Park: Thrill seekers can check an item off their bucket list by experiencing an exhilarating hand glide experience.
- Go Kayaking on Amelia River: Rent a kayak or take a guided eco-tour to explore the meandering Amelia River. There are a number of outfitters in town.
- Go Golfing: There are a number of great golf courses in the area including Fernandina Beach Golf Course and Amelia River Golf Course.
The Best American Beach Hotels
- LuxeAmelia Villas: These comfortable 3 and 4 bedroom villas are located a five-minute walk to the beach. Each unit is thoughtfully decorated and has eco touches like smart AC and fans, High-Efficiency washers and dryers, and an electric car charger outside.
- Residence Inn by Marriott: This hotel is a Certified Green Lodging by the State of Florida. The rooms are comfortable, well equipped, and located just a ten-minute drive to American Beach.
4. Fort Clinch State Park
The beautiful and natural beach at Fort Clinch State Park offers some history with the historic fort located nearby. The park have 1,400 acres of diverse landscapes, nature, and wildlife.
It’s the perfect Jacksonville Florida beach to feel like you’re one with nature, as there is very little manmade development along the beaches at Fort Clinch. You won’t find any Jacksonville Beach oceanfront hotels here – which is a good thing!
Along with the secluded Fort Clinch beaches, Jacksonville Fl, you can partake in a number of fun activities that will get you outside and keep you busy for days on end.
Things to Do in Fort Clinch State Park
- Visit the Fort Clinch Museum: Fortifications began on Fort Clinch in 1736 and the current building was constructed in the 19th century. At this museum, learn how the fort played an active role in American history up until World War 2.
- Go Birdwatching: Fort Clinch is one stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail. You are able to spot over 450 species of birds within the park.
- Go Biking and Hiking: Paved and off-road bike and hiking trails zig-zag the park and are the best way to explore this natural paradise at your own pace.
- Try Your Luck Fishing at the Jetty: Redfish, Flounder, and Trout live in the waters surrounding this Jacksonville Beach Pier.
- Spend a Day at the Beach: Go sunbathing, surfing, or beachcombing at the many miles of beach which line Fort Clinch State Park. If you keep your eyes peeled you may spot wild horses at Cumberland Island which lies directly across from the beach.
The Best Fort Clinch State Park Hotels
- Elizabeth Pointe Lodge: This is one of the few family-run Jacksonville hotels on the beach. Yet, the Dunlop Family puts their heart and soul into the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. This beachfront boutique lodge is set in a classic beach house, has great communal areas, and has bikes for scooting around town in an eco-friendly way.
- Amelia Schoolhouse Inn: This historic schoolhouse has been refurbished as a hotel. Each room is bright and airy, there is a bar, lovely pool, and an outdoor area. They are located less than 5 kilometers to Fort Clinch and Mayport Beach.
5. Atlantic Beach
The small, charming coastal community at Atlantic Beach is another destination that is rich in history. It’s believed to be the location of Native Americans’ first year-round settlement.
The pristine white sand and clear, shallow waters make this a very popular spot for both tourists and locals. Also, being a smaller, more residential neighbourhood, Atlantic Beach is much calmer and relaxed, making it a great location for a laid-back vacation.
Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville FL, is just a short drive away so the crowds tend to stay there and just pop over to Atlantic Beach for a visit. However, we can’t help but think Atlantic Beach tops the best beaches near Jacksonville Fl for natural beauty.
Things to Do in Atlantic Beach
- Visit Nearby Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park: This stunning park has some of the best surfing in Northeast Florida. It has many miles of hiking and biking trails as well as a 60-acre lake which is popular for fishing, kayaking, and canoes!
- Spend a Day at the Beach: Atlantic Beach is one of the most pristine and inviting beaches near Jacksonville Fl. Spend a day in the water, surfing, sunbathing, and playing beach games. Keep in mind that alcohol is not allowed on Atlantic Beach, but you can have charcoal and gas grills–just be sure to pay attention to them!
- Atlantic Beach Brewing Company: Taste the local brews in the Taproom or join in for one of their weekly events like Wednesday’s Craft Beer Bingo.
- Visit Howell Park: This small and peaceful park has well-groomed trails and is a great place to have an afternoon picnic in the shade.
- Go Golfing: The nearby Atlantic Beach Golf Course and Queens Harbour Yacht and Country Club are a delight for avid golfers.
Best Hotels in Atlantic Beach
- The Best Western Mayport: This hotel offers standard, comfortable rooms and is located close to Atlantic Beach. The outdoor pool is also available and the hotel includes a breakfast during your stay.
- One Ocean Resort & Spa: This up-scale hotel epitomizes style. It is located directly on the beach, has great communal areas, and friendly staff who are always happy to help with Jacksonville beach directions.
How to Explore the Beaches in Jacksonville, FL
Getting around and between the Jacksonville, FL beaches and your Jacksonville beach resorts is easiest by car. Some of the beaches, such as Atlantic Beach, are almost 50 km (30 miles) from the downtown area. There are loads of car rental options in the city, mostly located at the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX).
But for a greener option to explore Jacksonville beaches and other sights in the city you can use public transport. The Jacksonville Skyway is an elevated monorail that offers free transportation around downtown Jacksonville, but only Monday to Friday!
The Beach Buggy bus runs between Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. There is also a great bus network, which connects downtown Jacksonville, the beaches, and the greater Jacksonville area. However, it does not extend to Jacksonville’s more obscure beaches like South Ponte Vedra Beach and Black Rock Beach Jacksonville.
Where to Eat: Jacksonville Beach Restaurants
- First Watch: First Watch specializes in omelets, pancakes, salads, and sandwiches, which are all freshly made to order. It’s the perfect place for a delicious and healthy breakfast, brunch, or lunch dishes. They have a number of locations dotted around Jacksonville. Be aware, they all get busy at lunchtime so either go early or make it a breakfast stop!
- Eleven South Bistro: If you fancy some fine dining then Eleven South Bistro is the place. Located in South Jacksonville Beach, they offer a seasonally inspired menu with something for everyone. Eleven South Bistro includes a few excellent vegetarian and vegan options.
- Salt Life Food Shack: Salt Life Food Shack is part and parcel of the everyday beach life where salt is life! Their eclectic menu caters to all tastes and lifestyles; they do have a few vegetarian options, and they also have gluten free items for those with allergies. Whether you’re after tacos, seafood, sushi, or burgers, Salt Life has it all and it’s delicious!
- Delicomb: Hit up locally owned and operated Delicomb for an all natural and organic menu. Pop in for a coffee or sample their Açai bowls, sandwiches, salads, wraps, or a panini melt. Try the Mr. Loco egg sandwich: whole wheat toast, pepper jack cheese, avocado, bacon, sriracha, and the secret ingredient…strawberry jam! They also have a great selection of vegetarian options!
Make a Picnic: Picnics are often synonymous with beach days. So if you want to pack one, stop at a local grocery. Also, make sure you are staying at a hotel or an Airbnb Jacksonville Beach. Preferably, with a kitchen or area you can cook or prepare your picnic.
Jacksonville Beach Events
Jacksonville Beaches are a hub of activity all year ‘round and have something to suit everyone and every personality. No matter when you choose to visit Jacksonville Beach, Florida, you will be thoroughly entertained the whole year through with a full programme of family entertainment. Some of the special events that you might enjoy there are music festivals, jazz concerts and movie nights. Variety of arts and crafts as well as kid’s activities are also available.
There’s no doubt that it’s a tough choice as to which of these incredible beaches to visit. So, why not try them all?
Experience the beauty and history of Jacksonville beaches with an unforgettable family vacation. With close proximity to Jacksonville, the beaches are easy to explore on a day trip from the city. It allows you to get the best of the city and the beaches while on holiday!