From the high bluffs at Big Talbot Island State Park, you can see forever—or at least to the horizon, the Atlantic Ocean shimmering in the sun. Within the main state park complex, the Bluffs Picnic Area, with its picnic tables and popular fishing spots, the park offers access down below the high bluffs to some of the island’s most beautiful scenery, along the beach. The allure here is how unusual this beach is, which you’ll see with a 1-mile round-trip walk that can only be done at low tide.
Location: Big Talbot Island
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 30.502639, -81.450039
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: low
The park entrance is gated and open 8 AM – sunset, with a Florida State Parks entrance fee in force.
To get to Big Talbot Island State Park from Jacksonville, follow A1A north past the Mayport Ferry and out to Little Talbot Island. Pass the Little Talbot Island State Park entrance and continue north 4.1 miles to the Big Talbot Island State Park entrance, on the right.
Walk from the picnic area to the staircase at the bluffs. At the bottom of the staircase, turn right. Amelia Island lies across the channel, and dazzling white sandbars break up the blue water. Dunes top some of the sandbars, which provide some protection to this stretch of beach, slowing down fierce waves before they reach this sensitive shore.
As you walk the beach, notice the unusual limestone-like formations underfoot. These black “rocks” aren’t rocks at all. They’re compressed sand and decaying vegetation, shaped by water to mimic rocks. Step hard on the edge of one, and it crumbles. Sliced off by high waves during storms, the bluffs drop live oaks down on the beach. Sun-bleached skeletons of trees remain, creating shade for fiddler crabs and highways for sea lice.
After 0.5 mile of walking on the tawny sand, you reach a promontory of black rock pounded by waves. Be cautious if you climb up on the rocks, as they are both slippery and prone to crumbling under your feet. On the far side of a wave-washed chasm, the beach stretches off into the distance. Turn around and walk back up the beach to the boardwalk, completing your 1 mile beach walk.