How Safe Is Amelia Island for Travel?

Amelia Island, United States
Safety Index:
85

A walk on the beach of Amelia Island, Florida, is a walk through the sands of time.

This island earned it the nickname The Isle of Eight Flags, due to the number of times a different country has staked a claim here.

This island also holds a precious time in African American history.

American Beach was the only one in Florida that ignored the Jim Crow segregation laws that were enforced before 1965.

It’s a tradition in Florida for every coastal region to have a nickname, and this is Florida’s First Coast.

Amelia Island sits 34 miles northeast of Jacksonville.

There’s so much packed into an island just four miles wide and 13 miles long, including a fort that was never finished, the most valuable missing ship in history rumored to be off the coast, and a desperate attempt to stop development from destroying a historic plot of land.

The island itself is home to several communities:

  • Fernandina Beach (the only census-designated area on the island)
  • Amelia City
  • American Beach
  • Franklintown

Amelia Island has won numerous accolades over the past few years for being one of the best islands in the country and the world.

It’s easy to get lost in its beauty, but don’t forget the incredible history that brought it here.

Warnings & Dangers in Amelia Island

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

There's a low overall risk here. Crimes are exponentially lower than the Florida and national averages. Fernandina Beach is also one of the wealthiest cities in North Florida, so there's a certain expectation of safety that comes with being affluent.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

There's a low risk of using public transportation but there's also a low risk of finding one that suits your needs. A car is highly recommended here. There are taxi services available. Rideshares are available but can be limited due to the small island size. There is no community shuttle or bus system.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

There were no pickpockets or purse snatching reported in the past five years. That's low-risk if I've ever seen one!

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Hurricanes are the biggest concern here with the season running from June through November. Amelia Island has seen her fair share of hurricanes over the years. Several were so strong they led to the rewriting of history with the devastation left behind. It's important to know that if a Category 1 hurricane is headed toward the island there will be a mandatory evacuation. No exceptions. This is a medium risk for hurricanes and the summer thunderstorms can be brief but intense.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

There were two robberies in 2020 and both were in local homes. You've got a low risk of causing that number to jump.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There's a low risk of a terror attack here. It's a small island and far enough away from a big city that there shouldn't be a concern about it.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium scam risk here. Rental scams are popular across all of Florida. This is when a scammer posts a fake rental listing at a low price and steals the deposit money. Some local scams shouldn't impact tourists, but just a heads up — don't click a link if someone sends a message saying "We have your package, click the link for more info" or get pressured to buy a gift card in demand for an "overdue bill."

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

There's a low risk for women here. Some of the fanciest resorts, like the Ritz Carlton, have locations on Amelia Island with spas catering to women.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The water meets or exceeds all EPA and local requirements, so there's a low risk. The city hasn't had a violation of water quality since 2016.

Safest Places to Visit in Amelia Island

From the old world to the new world, Amelia Island has so much to offer.

Fort Clinch State Park is a great place to start on the north end of the island.

The fort is the focal point with its majestic row of cannons (hint: they are fired the first weekend of every month) and you can walk through the brick walls of history in the steps of a confederate soldier.

There’s a fascinating story of the “fort that was never finished” and the role it played in several historical moments.

The park includes hiking trails and a beach.

I was going to call the historic downtown area of Fernandina eclectic, but since it is rated as one of the “Quirkiest Towns in America,” we’ll go with quirky.

You can enjoy cobblestone sidewalks along 50 blocks of shopping and dining options.

You’ll be as likely to see a pirate as you are a horse-drawn carriage.

Art adorns every block of this community.

There are several museums to put on your Amelia Island bucket list.

Start at the Welcome Center, which is also a shrimping museum (quirky, remember?) and is part of the Amelia Island Museum of History.

Here you can learn about the “eight flags” history of the island and how shrimp played a role in its development.

Farther south is the A.L. Lewis Museum at American Beach, paying tribute to the African American heritage of the island.

After the civil war, slaves from Amelia Island formed their own self-sustaining community called Franklintown.

The area then later transformed into the only beach resort town for African Americans during segregation.

The Amelia Island Lighthouse is the oldest still operable lighthouse in Florida.

There are tours twice a month, but it does not include ascending the tower.

Placess to Avoid in Amelia Island

There aren’t any parts of town to avoid due to the dangers of crime.

The crime rate is just too low.

Of course, that doesn’t mean letting your guard down.

You still need to lock the car door and keep personal belongings out of plain sight.

You still shouldn’t wade hundreds of feet into the ocean with your purse sitting by itself on the beach.

You do need to avoid the dunes and only use designated walkways to get to the beach.

There are hefty fines for disturbing the dunes or taking seagrass.

You also need to be sure you are on a public beach.

For the simplicity, the Amelia Island beaches have, there sure are a lot of confusing points.

The rules vary whether it’s state, county, or local beach.

There are beaches on private property and you can only walk along the shoreline when walking through.

If you’ve heard you can drive on the beach here, that changed.

There is now no driving on the county beaches except for a small group of exempt people.

Amelia Island State Park does allow it, but the vehicle must be 4X4 and there’s a strict limit of how many vehicles are allowed on the beach.

The county beaches are open 24 hours a day, but the parking lots are not.

Lots close at midnight.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Amelia Island

  1. Amelia Island offers a variety of fishing options and is one of a few areas that offer surf fishing. You will need a Florida fishing license. There are separate licenses for saltwater and freshwater fishing. Check out the Florida Fish and Wildlife website to get yours.
  2. The city of Fernandina Beach has an app to keep up with the many events happening. Just search for “Civic Mobile” in the app store and then once downloaded, look for Fernandina Beach.
  3. The Amelia Island mobile app is another must-have. This will walk you through all the tourist stops, some even presented in augmented reality.
  4. Check the beach flags before entering the water. Some Amelia Island beaches have a different flag system than many other beaches. Here a red flag means don’t get in the water. In other places, it’s a double red flag that gives the same warning. A black and white checkered flag means you can use watercraft, but you cannot swim. When in doubt, ask a lifeguard.
  5. You have more options that you might realize for overnight stays on Amelia Island. Big hotels like Omni and the Ritz-Carlton have locations here, but there is an abundance of bed & breakfast locations that bring out the real charm of the town. Either of those options is a lot safer than risking a rental scam by looking at Craigslist.
  6. If you build a sandcastle on the beach during the day, fill in the hole left behind so nobody sprains an ankle walking along the beach. These holes can be dangerous for sea turtles as well.
  7. If you are there during the sea turtle season, May through October, don’t disturb the turtle nests in any way. They’ll be clearly marked. Sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs, and once hatched, the little sea turtles have to make their way back to the ocean. Don’t bring bright lights at night either, as that can harm or confuse the sea turtles and they might never make it home.
  8. Rip currents are a hazard at the beach and you’ll see signs warning about them. The riptide happens when the water rushes in and a powerful force pulls them back to the sea. If you do get caught in one, you mustn’t fight against the current and try to swim back the way you came. Simply swim horizontally to the shore until you are out of the rip current and can safely get back on land.
  9. Some of the fancier dining locations, like Salt at the Ritz-Carlton, have strict dress codes. For example, you can’t wear shorts to Salt. Check ahead of time if you are having a fine dining experience but are unsure of the dress code.
  10. If the safe community is a little boring for you, why not try a ghost tour? Walkthrough cemeteries lined with Spanish moss-covered trees and through the homes that hold ghost stories through the centuries.

So... How Safe Is Amelia Island Really?

When a ghost tour is the most dangerous thing you are going to do, a city is safe.

Honestly, I have a full mathematical process I go through to break down all the crime statistics in cities.

For this area, it wasn’t needed.

Again, keep in mind these are the crime rates for Fernandina Beach only, as it’s the only actual city on the island.

Here’s the number of crimes from 2020:

  • Violent Crime: 17
  • Robbery: 2
  • Aggravated Assault: 13
  • Theft: 104

Those are the numbers according to the population, but also include the 1.5 million people who visit this area each year.

How Does Amelia Island Compare?

CitySafety Index
Amelia Island85
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37

Useful Information

  • Visas - The Visas are all handled at the airport and you don't need to do anything special to get onto Amelia Island.
  • Currency - Amelia Island, just like anywhere else in the U.S. uses the United States Dollar, sometimes referred to as USD, American Dollar, and is considered the most widely accepted currency in the world.
  • Weather - Winters can get chilly at night with lows hitting the 40s and highs in the 60s. In spring, the daytime temperatures go up into the 70s and by the heat of summer, you're spending 90°(F) days at the beach. It can get rather humid in the summer, so pack some extra clothing for all the sweating you'll be doing. It's always a good idea to bring a jacket for those cool evening breezes.
  • Airports - The nearest and biggest airport is Jacksonville International. It's just a 35-minute drive as the airport is on the north side of the Jacksonville metro area.
  • Travel Insurance - Get travel insurance because of how unpredictable Florida weather can be, especially in the summer months.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Amelia Island Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 12° C
Feb 14° C
Mar 17° C
Apr 20° C
May 24° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 28° C
Aug 28° C
Sep 26° C
Oct 22° C
Nov 17° C
Dec 14° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
171922252831323230262219
Low
°C
781114192223232218129
High
°F
636672778288909086797266
Low
°F
454652576672737372645448

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