Best of Lists

Top 12 Southern Boating Destinations

Fall into Cruising

By
Jeanne
Craig

Marinalife asked. Boaters answered. And so we listened. After many submissions from our Marinalife members we selected the top 12 southern boating destinations. With the summer in your wake and temperatures cooling in the north, there's no better time to pick up anchor and head south to these excellent destinations.

1. ORIENTAL, North Carolina

Visitors to this quaint village like to spend time watching the water, where there's often a beautiful craft to admire, while the fall breezes sweep through the marsh grasses. The river that flows by these shores is the Neuse River, which dissolves into the Pamlico Sound to the north. From Oriental, you can watch recreational and commercial vessels as they navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs down the middle of the Neuse. Then, go for a bike ride through town (the terrain is flat), and don't forget to bring along binoculars, as Oriental is a favorite destination for birders. If you're tying up for the night, head to River Dunes. Rated one of the top 25 marinas in the North America, it offers floating docks within a protected 28-acre inland basin harbor.

2. HILTON HEAD, South Carolina

In this town, anchoring the southern tip of the state's coastline, the environment takes center stage, due to development being regulated here. Wildlife abounds, and it's not unusual to see loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins and manatees in the waters. While Hilton Head is home to several luxury private gated communities, it's also a resort destination with 12 miles of white-sand beaches, world-class restaurants, top-rated golf courses and other sports, including tennis. To spend the night in style, reserve a dock at Harbour Town Yacht Basin located at Sea Pines Resort. The full-service marina, with fuel dock and marine supply store, is home to the famous red-and-white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse that many associate with the island.

3. ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida

Celebrating its 450th birthday this year, it's the nations oldest city, and its charms are timeless. Located along the banks of the Matanzas River, St. Augustine, with its narrow cobblestone streets, was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers (see the coquina bastions of a Spanish fort that guards the bay). A visit here should include an exploration of the shops and eateries around the Historic District. St. Augustine also is the site of the fabled Fountain of Youth, which is worth a visit, as the once-dated attraction has been restored in recent years and even features a boatyard with a 16th-century-style craft. After the walking tour, hit the gorgeous beach at Anastasia State Park, then tie up at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, just a mile from St. Augustine Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.

4. PALM BEACH, Florida

Here, along a golden stretch of the Atlantic shore, is a destination that's one part old-world glamour and another new-age sophistication. Palm Beach is touted as one of America's first luxury resort destinations, and it maintains that status today. There are the signature Mediterranean-revival mansions and upscale shops that boast a beautiful clientele. While there's plenty to do in Palm Beach (think dining, shopping, golfing and nightlife), if you're up for exploring beyond the borders of town, you can head south to Delray Beach another classic town in the Old Florida tradition or north to the barrier islands of the Treasure Coast. For an overnight stay, tie up at Palm Harbor Marina where the crowd is international and the facilities top-notch or at Old Port Cove Marina, with an onsite restaurant, shower and laundry facilities, gym and lounge.

5. KEY WEST, Florida

As a tourist destination, Key West has a lot going for it, including an average temperature of 79°F, 19th-century architecture, a laid-back lifestyle, a wonderful art scene and top dining options. Of course, you will also find an array of bars and t-shirt shops along Duval Street, but jump on a bike to venture beyond. Key West is still a place that feels a world apart from the rest of the continental U.S. The population is diverse, and Key Westers pride themselves on their tolerance of all peoples, and even all animals (most restaurants allow pets). But its finest asset is location. At the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, and just one mile wide, the water overwhelms land and makes for the type of views romantic travelers dream of. For an overnight, dock at Stock Island Marina Village, boasting 220 slips or Conch Harbor Marina, in Key West Bight.

6. SARASOTA,  Florida

Located in the heart of Florida's Tampa Bay Region, Sarasota has much to offer cruisers, particularly in the fall, as many boaters in the north head in this direction for their annual pilgrimage in pursuit of the sun. The beaches in Sarasota and throughout the region are some of the best in the country, and you'll find a different vibe at each one, from mellow stretches of sand for shell collectors to social hubs that draw sun lovers with live music and dancing. There are also charter fishing boats, parasailing experiences, and sidewalk shopping and cafes. If you're craving culture, try Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. There's so much to do in this locale that you might want to spend a few nights. One of the top facilities in town is the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Resort & Marina.

7. ORANGE BEACH, Alabama

Panhandle hot-spots like Destin, Florida, have attracted boaters for years, but the growing popularity has made for congested waterways and beaches. If you're looking for another pretty port along this pretty stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, one that's less crowded and in some ways more affordable, try Orange Beach, Alabama. Downtown Orange Beach is situated on a peninsula that juts into Perdido Bay, just minutes from the open waters of the Gulf, and also adjacent to a number of coves and backwaters that offer miles of sheltered shoreline for exploring, fishing, water skiing and swimming. Orange Beach has a number of upscale developments, as well as family-oriented activities that range from go-kart tracks to golf courses. Tie up at Orange Beach Marina, named one of the Top 25 Marinas by Power & Motoryacht Magazine, accommodating vessels up to 130 feet or Homeport Marina, in nearby Gulf Shores. For your service and maintenance needs, stop in at Saunders Yachtworks.

8. BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

The British Virgin Islands are among the top boating destinations in the world, yet those who have cruisedthese waters more than once say a return trip isn't complete without stops at two of the most beloved islands: Virgin Gorda and Anegada. Lovely Virgin Gorda runs at a pace so slow that goats still wander across the roads in places like North Sound. There are also great sites like the Copper Mine Point (for history), Virgin Gorda Peak (for hiking) and the incredible Baths (you'll flood your Instagram feed with photos of this natural wonder). Anegada is fourteen miles north, a flat coral-and-limestone atoll just nine miles long and two miles wide. Though the reefs are a sailor's nightmare, they are gold for snorkelers, especially in the waters around Loblolly Bay on the north shore. There are moorings at most islands in the BVI; if you're hankering for a marina stay, try the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda or Scrub Island Resort Marina.

9. ABACO ISLANDS, Bahamas

The calm and protected waters of the Abaco Islands are beautiful and define this chain of islands as the sailing capital of the Bahamas. Yet the waters are not just for cruising. Reefs make for excellent snorkeling, diving and fishing. And then there are the beaches. From island-long stretches to strips as short as your boat, there's a beach suited to everyone's liking. There are many luxury services in the islands too, from five-star accommodations to fine dining and pretty shops. There's island-style fun, too, including great beach parties. Our favorite being the Sunday pig roast at Nippers on Great Guana Cay. Full-service marinas include Hope Town Inn & Marina, Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour and Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort.

10. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Among the most precious assets of this island, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the CaribbeanSea to the south, are 1,000 miles of beaches. But this is a land of contrasts too, with mountain landscapes, brown rivers and rain forests. Accommodations offer a broad range, from surfers' camps, to boutique hotels and megaresorts. The vibrant lifestyle of this Latin- Caribbean country where Spanish is the national language makes the Dominican Republic a unique cultural experience. Also notable is the fact that a stay here can represent a very good bargain, even in a place like Casa de Campo, one of the world's largest resorts and top golfing destinations, which offers Marina Casa de Campo. Cruising yachtsmen also like Ocean World in Puerto Plata.

11. PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico

There are many good reasons to visit one of Mexico's prettiest resort towns in the fall. Among them are scores of excellent restaurants, lively nightclubs, sandy beaches and local gems like Old Vallarta, featuring winding cobblestone streets and quirky boutiques. Puerto Vallarta is also a top golf destination, with exclusive links and accessible courses for all players. As you might expect at an international coastal destination, there are watersports of all kinds, from windsurfing to snorkeling to scuba diving. A popular place for transient  boaters is Paradise Village Marina, located in a protected natural lagoon and part of a luxury resort property, which means guests have access to all of the hotel's amenities.

12. CATALINA ISLAND, California

Just 20-plus miles across from Newport Beach is a glimpse of what an underdeveloped slice of Southern California looks like. Catalina has mountains, canyons, coves and beaches, and water so clear it draws divers, snorkelers and kayakers. Avalon is the main town, an old-fashioned beach community where golf carts are preferred on streets and pleasure boats bob in the bay. When you come off the water, absorb a bit of the island's history. In 1919, William Wrigley Jr., the chewing-gum magnate, helped to develop the island, raising one of its most famous landmarks, the Casino, in 1929. There are four general mooring areas around the island. Moorings are rented on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arrival, call the Harbor Patrol on Channel 9 for information.

Related Articles
Maritime Museums in the Caribbean
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The Caribbean is well known for its clear blue tropical waters. But as rich as it is in beauty, the islands have an even greater wealth of his- tory. Luckily, museums are located across the region to share the stories and significant events that can provide glimpses of what maritime life was like throughout the years. Their exhibits, relics and archives will have you looking at the region in a whole new light.

Here are eight Maritime Museums: 

National Museum of Bermuda Flagpole

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BERMUDA

You can find this treasure trove of artifacts in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, the nearest land mass to this collection of islands. The museum shows how maritime events shaped the history, people and culture of Bermuda. It is located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard within Bermuda’s largest fort. Exhibits cover 500 years of the country’s history from how the German U-505 submarine was captured by the U.S. Navy and concealed in Bermuda to how sailing races from North America to Bermuda have influenced the development of ocean-worthy boats and blue water sailing. Be sure to experience the museum’s unique spaces by strolling through the two-story boat loft to catching a dolphin show at the Keep Pond Terrace to taking in the expansive ocean views at the flagpole.

Where to Dock: Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf

TURKS AND CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM

Turks and Caicos National Museum opened in 1991 to store artifacts found in the excavation of the Molasses Reef shipwreck, an unknown Spanish ship that sunk in 1515 on the Caicos Bank. The museum spans two locations: the Guinep House on Grand Turk Island, believed to be more than 180 years old and named after the large guinep tree on its property, and the Village at Grace Bay on Providenciales, where visitors can tour the Heritage House, an historically correct rendition of a typical 1800s Caicos dwelling. In addition to showcasing shipwreck artifacts, visitors also learn about the evolution of The Grand Turk Lighthouse as well as the rise and fall of the island’s salt industry. On Museum Day, the first Saturday in November, visitors can tour the exhibits for free, and in May, the Village at Grace Bay holds a “Back in the Day” event with activities reflecting historical life on the island.

Where to Dock: Blue Haven Resort & Marina

Map of the driving routes on the Grand Cayman Heritage Trail
Grand Cayman Heritage Trail Driving Routes | GCHT

MARITIME HERITAGE TRAIL & CAYMAN ISLANDS NATIONAL MUSEUM

If you like to take in history outdoors, these exhibitions are for you. The trail consists of 36 stops across all three islands (Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands) and is best traveled via car. Each stop is marked by a road sign that shares a notable historic event or contribution related to the maritime industry. Learn how turtling shaped the islands’ early economy, how ships were cleaned and repaired before boat lifts by a process called “careening”, and hear stories of notable shipwrecks. If you prefer to learn Cayman Island history in one place, you can check out the Cayman Islands National Museum, housed in Cayman’s oldest surviving public building, which has a series of permanent and rotating exhibits.

Where to Dock: The Barcadere Marina

COLUMBUS LIGHTHOUSE (FARO A COLÓN) MUSEUM IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Completed 500 years after Christopher Columbus arrived on the island of La Hispaniola, the Faro a Colon (aka The Columbus Lighthouse) is one of the Dominican Republic’s most popular attractions. Constructed in the shape of a Latin cross spanning the width of two soccer fields, the lighthouse was created to recognize the first “encounter between two worlds.” It includes a mausoleum that houses Christopher Columbus’ remains as well as a museum displaying original and replica artifacts from the time of Columbus’ voyage. The lighthouse also has a library containing documents and maps displaying some of the earliest drawings of the Americas.

Where to Dock: Marina Zarpar

Boats in the water with green hills in the background
Nelson's Dockyard | Source Alexa Zizzi

NELSON’S DOCKYARD IN ANTIGUA

The Antigua Naval Dockyard, now named Nelson’s Dockyard, was built in the mid-1700s to serve as a strategic post and support the Royal Navy battle against the French and protect trade routes in the region. The dockyard officially closed in 1889 and reopened in 1961 as an historic site. In addition to exploring the dockyard, take advantage of the park’s 12 miles of hiking trails, two forts, and tours such as the “Rum in the Ruins” where you can listen to stories of the dockyard while sipping on a cocktail. If traveling by boat, get the best view of the gorgeous English Harbour and snag a slip at nearby Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, the only continuously working Georgian Era dockyard in the world.

Where to Dock: Nelson’s Dockyard Marina

BEQUIA HERITAGE MUSEUM

Opened in 2020, the Bequia Heritage Museum includes the Boat Museum and Annexe that display and educate visitors about the boatbuilding and whaling industries as well as artifacts dating back to the period of the island’s European settlement. Vessels on display at the museum include a traditional Amerindian dug-out canoe and the decommissioned boat, Rescue, that was originally used for whaling.

Where to Dock: Bequia Marina

Curaçao Maritime Museum | Credit CP Hoffman

CURAÇAO MARITIME MUSEUM

Located in a mansion built in 1729 on the Waaigat inlet, the Curaçao Maritime Museum shares with visitors the story and events that influenced Curaçao’s involvement in the maritime industry. Learn how trade ebbed and flowed in and out of Curaçao’s ports, reflective of the events happening around the world to the arrival of the first cruise ship in 1901 from New York, sparking the cruise tourism industry until the 1970s when air travel took over as the primary way for tourists to visit the island. Visitors can explore the museum at their own pace or take a guided tour.

Where to Dock: Seru Boca Marina

GRAND BAHAMA MUSEUM

With a decent internet connection, you can visit the Grand Bahama Museum from the comforts of your remote anchorage or mooring. Bahamian history and culture are explored through digital exhibits ranging from the islands’ natural landscapes and the history of the port authority to the role the Bahamas played during the Golden Age of Piracy. Learn about the first recorded piece of mail sent from the Bahamas in 1761 and the evolution of mailboats. Or savor a dark and stormy while reading about the Bahamas’ role in the rum-running industry during U.S. Prohibition. The Grand Bahama Museum was originally housed at The Garden of the Groves but was unfortunately destroyed by weather and time. To reach a wider audience and share Bahamian history and culture, the museum decided to move to a digital platform.

Where to Dock: Grand Bahama Yacht Club or Flamingo Bay Hotel & Marina

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Florida's Fall Calendar of Events 2022
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From the Gulf to the Atlantic and every bay in between, boaters and their families have plenty to look forward to on the Florida coasts this fall. Start the season with a couple of pints at Oktoberfest and spooks at a haunted ghost tour, throw in a boating event or two, and round it out with a lighted boat parade.

OCTOBER

Black trolley with "Ghosts and Gravestones" logo on the side
Source: Adonis Paul Hunter

HAUNTED GHOST TOURS

St. Augustine

Daily/weekly

Learn about the haunted history in the oldest city in the United States through the lens of the undead. Get tickets for haunted pub crawls, trolly tours and walking tours. You’ll get in the Halloween spirit and learn the stories behind St. Augustine’s most spirited locations from professional storytellers with just the right amount of spook. Kids are welcome on trolly and walking tours, and pets are allowed on walking tours! Check out Ghost Tours of St. Augustine or Ghosts & Gravestones.

Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor

Band walking in a parade playing tubas
Oktoberfest | Credit Pixabay

OKTOBERFEST

Jacksonville Beach, Tampa

October 7-9

Kick off the fall season with Oktoberfest on the Atlantic or Gulf Coast with Beaches Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest Tampa. With Tampa’s event ranking in the top five in the country and Jacksonville Beach’s being the largest in the state, you’re sure to find the brew for you! beachesoktoberfest.com

Where to Dock: Fort George Island Marina (Jacksonville), Westshore Yacht Club (Tampa)

FLORIDA BIRDING & NATURE FESTIVAL

Apollo Beach

October 20-23

Just across the Bay from Tampa and St. Pete, Apollo Beach is teeming with wildlife on land and on the water. At this four-day festival, you’ll find a free expo with nature organizations and artwork, daily field and boat trips to sites not accessible to the public, and expert wildlife and conservation seminars. Nature aficionados won’t want to miss this opportunity at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Suncoast Youth Conservation Center.

Where to Dock: Apollo Beach Marina

PALM BEACH KENNEL CLUB 2022 MUTT DERBY

West Palm Beach

October 22

Has your dog always wanted to be an (un)professional racer? Now is Fido’s time to shine! Register your pup for a day full of zoomies, Doggie Costume Contest, and plenty of BBQ and entertainment for the whole family. Proceeds benefit Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch.

Where to Dock: Palm Harbor Marina

Jazz band on stage under bright lights playing instruments

CLEARWATER JAZZ HOLIDAY

Clearwater

October 14-16

No matter your music taste, you’re sure to find something to jam out to at this three-day festival, from smooth jazz and blues to funk and zydeco. You’ll find plenty of vendors at the festival, and Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood offers old-school charm and Latin American eateries. St. Petersburg offers hip breweries, coffee shops and more.

Where to Dock: Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina

SARASOTA WATER LANTERN FESTIVAL

Sarasota

October 22

Join in a celebration of life at the Water Lantern Festival this fall. Start the day with food trucks, music and family- friendly fun, and end by releasing your personalized lantern on the water at sunset.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Two dark grey mega-yachts docked at the boat show
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show | Credit Informa Markets

FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

Fort Lauderdale

October 26-30

The largest in-water boat show in the world offers viewings and demos of everything from superyachts to kayaks and fishing gear. Stop by the Superyacht Village to sip a cocktail on one of the most luxurious boats in the world, the Convention Center for watersport and innovative boating gear demos, and take the family to a kid-friendly fishing seminar.

Where to Dock: 17th Street Yacht Basin, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Pier 66 Hotel & Marina

NAPLES STONE CRAB FESTIVAL

Naples

October 28-30

Join the Old Naples Waterfront Association in the historic center to kick off stone crab season! Eat stone crab to your heart’s content in a prime harvesting location of the tasty crustacean and enjoy plenty of entertainment, from live music to local galleries and craft vendors. floridarambler.com/florida-festivals/ florida-seafood-festivals-calendar

Where to Dock: Naples Bay Resort & Marina

NOVEMBER

close up view of a seafood platter with vegetables, salmon, scallops, and shrimp
Florida Seafood Festival | Source VISIT FLORIDA

58TH ANNUAL FLORIDA SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

Apalachicola

November 4-5

Cruise to the charming Apalachicola, tucked away among expansive wildlife reserves and just a bay away from the Gulf. Along with some of the best oysters and seafood you can eat, the whole family will enjoy a parade, carnival, Blessing of the Fleet, hours of live music every day, and competitions such as the oyster shucking contest and blue crab races.  

Where to Dock: Apalachicola Marina

RIGHT WHALE FESTIVAL

Fernandina Beach

November 5

Celebrate the annual return of the North Atlantic right whale to the coasts of Florida and Georgia to give birth and nurse their young in historic Fernandina Beach. Learn about threats and conservation efforts for these gentle giants, participate in a beach clean-up, and enjoy family fun at educational exhibits, athletic events, and food and craft vendors.

Where to Dock: Oasis Marinas at Fernandina Beach

KEY WEST OFFSHORE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Key West

November 6-13

Cruise to Key West for three days of epic racing and a full week of family-friendly fun. Don’t miss the World’s Fastest Boat Parade on the first Sunday, or any three of the races throughout the week: the Truman Waterfront Cup, Southernmost Continental Champion, and Championship. Use downtime to explore the Race Village at Truman Waterfront and try out local pubs, shops and restaurants.

Where to Dock: Conch Harbor Marina

crowd on the beach admiring a large sand sculpture
Credit JJS Photo

SIESTA KEY CRYSTAL CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL SAND SCULPTING FESTIVAL

Sarasota

November 11-14

Visit Siesta Key Beach to watch sculptors from around the world turn piles of white sand into sculpted masterpieces. Professional competitors have 24 hours to build their pieces, and visitors have the chance to participate in amateur sand-sculpting competitions and see the masters at work.  

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Siesta Key

SARASOTA FALL FINE ART FESTIVAL

Sarasota

November 19-20

Art connoisseurs and amateurs alike will love this boutique art competition and festival in the scenic cultural center of Sarasota. Masters of different media—ceramics, jewelry, graphic art, painting, and more—will put the best of their work on display for patrons to browse and buy to their hearts’ content.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Mansion at night-time with palm trees filled with warm white holiday lights
St. Augustine Night of Lights | Source Om Flickr

ST. AUGUSTINE NIGHT OF LIGHTS

St. Augustine

November 19-January 31

Ready to get in the holiday spirit? Cruise back to St. Augustine as early as before Thanksgiving for a dazzling display of more than 3 million lights in the historic district. Gaze in awe at the twinkly lights and find photo ops at the Bridge of Lions and the Christmas tree at the center of Plaza de la Constitución. Enjoy the sounds of the All Star Orchestra on the first night and stroll to businesses open later than usual.

Where to Dock: St. Augustine Municipal Marina

DECEMBER

ART BASEL

Miami Beach

December 1-3

Since the 1970s, this annual art extravaganza brings works of contemporary and modern pieces by renowed and emerging artists from around the world to showcase in Miami. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, for three days the public can gaze upon unique masterpieces presented by leading galleries from five continents.

Where to Dock: Sunset Harbour Yacht Club

OCEAN REEF CLUB VINTAGE WEEKEND

Key Largo, FL

December 1-4

This annual four-day event showcases classic antique yachts, automobiles and aircraft to celebrate those who restore vintage collections. Experience a full schedule of events kicking off with a welcome party and dinner buffet on Thursday, then a weekend packed with drive-bys, shows, dinners, cocktail receptions, a costume party and more.

Where to Dock: Ocean Reef Club

HOLIDAY BOAT PARADES

With so many spectacular lighted boat parades on the coasts of Florida, we couldn’t choose just one! Dock at any of these coastal towns on the first three Saturdays of December to ring in the season on the festive Florida waterfronts.

Palm trees lined with warm white holiday lights and a sunset with boats in the background
Credit Florida Historic Coast

Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade
December 3


Palm Coast Yacht Club Holiday Boat Parade
December 3


The Seminole Hard Rock Winter Boat Parade
December 10


St. Augustine Regatta of Lights
December 10


Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade
December 10


Northwest Cape Coral 2nd Annual Boat Parade
December 17

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This or That: Beaufort VS. FERNANDINA BEACH
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WHICH OF THESE RENOWNED SEAFOOD TOWNS WILL HOOK YOU?

Location

Fernandina Beach | credit Patrick Farrell

BEAUFORT, NC

Beaufort lies on an inlet leading south to the Atlantic and is considered part of North Carolina’s “Inner Banks” and the Crystal Coast. The Crystal Coast spans 85 miles of stunning coastline in southern North Carolina, including 56 miles of protected beach of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Located on historic Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Visitors will find easy access to Jacksonville, the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, and coastal destinations in southern Georgia such as Cumberland Island.

HISTORY

Beaufort History | credit Dori Arrington

BEAUFORT, NC

Established in 1709, Beaufort was originally known as Fishtown, having been a fishing village and port of safety since the late 1600s. In addition to fishing, Beaufort was a hub for whaling, lumber, shipbuilding and farming. The earliest settlers made their mark by building Bahamian and West Indian-style homes, and the Plan of Beaufort Towne can still be seen in a 12-block historic district.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

First settled in 1562, this town on historic Amelia Island went through many transformations under eight flags before it became what it is today. After the Civil War, Fernandina Beach became a bustling seaport and popular destination, called “The Queen of Summer Resorts” by many Northerners. Today’s visitors find themselves surrounded by the town’s lovely relics of the past — an historic district, Civil War port and the first cross-state railroad remain.

BOATING ATTRACTIONS

Fernandina Beach | credit Deremer Studios LLC

BEAUFORT, NC

Beaufort has a thriving scene for anglers. Cast your line off a dock downtown, book a charter or head north to Cedar Island Wildlife Refuge to catch flounder, trout and redfish. Boat tours and private charters are a popular way to experience the stunning views and wildlife of the Crystal Coast. See porpoises, dolphins and wild horses on the beach. Better yet, book with Cruisin’ Tikis Beaufort to imbibe while you observe. Dock at Beaufort Docks.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Pier fishing is huge on Amelia Island, and anglers should head to the George Crady Bridge, which spans one mile of Nassau Sound. Snag a variety of fish in the area, including redfish, whiting, seatrout, tarpon and flounder. Boaters can start aquatic excursions in either the Atlantic Ocean to the east or Amelia River to the west. Go on a solo adventure, or join a tour or charter by boat, kayak or watersport with the likes of Amelia River Tours, Amelia Adventures & Kayak or Riptide Watersports. Dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina.

ACTIVITIES

Beaufort | credit Dori Arrington

BEAUFORT, NC

History buffs will feel right at home in Beaufort. Visit the Beaufort Historic Site to learn the town’s story through nine preserved historic homes in the middle of town. Three different maritime museums, including the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and the Bonehenge Whale Center offer marine merriment for the whole family. And for a taste of Crystal Coast wildlife, head over to the Rachel Carson Reserve where wild horses and countless birds, reptiles and aquatic mammals roam free.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Fernandina Beach is known for its easy living. Amelia Island Welcome Center is a great place to revisit Fernandina’s history and plan your day. Make your way to Centre Street on the water to browse eclectic shops and bustling art galleries, taste wild-caught shrimp at a bistro, or grab a pint at the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest tavern. If you’re in town on a Friday, you might stumble upon Sounds on Centre, a local concert series.

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