Jacksonville Florida Beaches
Moving south, where you can travel by Interstate or take the Jean Ribault Ferry over the St. Johns River, you’ll see the several public beaches at Little Talbot Island and Hanna Park before you reach the next towns on A1A – Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach.
All are located in Duval County on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Intracoastal Waterway on the west.
Atlantic Beach was a small seaside community around 1900 when Henry Flagler, builder of the Florida East Coast Railway, built the Mayport branch of the railway and erected a station just north of the former Atlantic Beach City Hall (which is now the Adele Grage Cultural Center).
By 1913, the railroad sold most of its land to the Atlantic Beach Corporation, headed by Ernest R. Beckett, which began paving streets, installing lights and water and sewer lines. The Town of Atlantic Beach was incorporated in 1926 and a new Charter was adopted in 1957 making Atlantic Beach a city.
With the opening of the Mayport Naval Station in the 1940’s and the construction of the Matthews Bridge in the mid 1950’s, the area became ready for development.
Recent city commissions recognized the need to acquire land to be developed for recreational purposes while a few large tracts of land were still available. In 1994, the city acquired approximately eight acres on the Intracoastal Waterway and with the use of grant funds, developed Tideviews Preserve as a passive park with trails, a boardwalk for viewing wildlife, a canoe launch and picnic areas.
In 1998, the City of Atlantic Beach, in a joint venture with the City of Jacksonville, acquired a 27-acre island now known as Dutton Island Preserve. The island is experiencing on-going development as a nature park to include trails, a floating dock for launching kayaks and canoes, a fishing pier, camping sites and pavilions. Residents may now enjoy more than sixty-five acres of parkland.
Today, Atlantic Beach is about three square miles in area and has almost two miles of ocean beach. Much of the development in the city has been residential, with single-family homes accounting for most of the developed land areas.
Its commercial district, Town Center, is home to the luxurious Sea Turtle Hotel and several shops and restaurants that offer sidewalk dining. Atlantic Beach is also home to Pete’s Bar, which is the oldest bar at the beaches.
The nearly 14,000 residents of Atlantic Beach enjoy an enviable quality of life.
Next to Atlantic Beach lies the City of Neptune Beach, a community of 7,500 residents. The name Neptune Beach has origins dating back to the year 1922 when Dan Wheeler built his own train station next to his home and named it Neptune. Mr. Wheeler had been informed that if he were to build a station, the train would be required to stop. The station was located where the Sea Turtle Inn is now located.
The area remained a part of Jacksonville Beach until the tax revolt of 1931, when on August 11, the residents of Neptune voted 113 to 31 to secede from Jacksonville Beach and incorporate the City of Neptune Beach.
The primary focus of the community is to protect the residential nature of the City and to maintain its high quality of life through strict growth management standards. Neptune Beach comprises about 2.5 square miles.
Next to Neptune Beach is Jacksonville Beach, where you’ll find miles of un-crowded white sandy Jacksonville, Florida beaches and lots to do. With the Intracoastal Waterway, St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean to choose from, Jacksonville Beach offers lots of opportunities whether you are a fisherman, a golfer, or a family looking for good clean fun.
Jacksonville Beach offers some of the best sport fishing, boating and water sport opportunities in the country. Play in the ocean, walk and collect seashells along the Jacksonville, Florida beaches, or stroll along the Sea Walk and watch for porpoise year-round. You might even catch a glimpse of the northern right-whales that winter off the coast. During the evenings, concerts and festivals are held nearly every weekend from April through October at the city’s Sea Walk Pavilion. The city also hosts a summer movie series where you can bring your chairs and coolers and enjoy famous features on the big screen – and the coastal breezes as well.
Jacksonville Beach is also known for its many great restaurants. Enjoy Florida’s finest seafood, local specialties, or ethnic cuisine. Dine on the oceanfront or along the Intracoastal Waterway and top off the evening with live music and entertainment at local nightspots.