Down on towards the southern end of Amelia Island, you’ll find a charming and beautiful beachside community that is steeped in history. American Beach is a perfect location if you hope for a more calming day by the water alongside an illuminating educational experience.
While the beach itself is a natural bastion of high-rolling sand dunes and golden coated shores, the history of the area and its importance to the African-American community is the prominent feature at this beach.
American Beach was created by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, one of Florida’s first African-American millionaires. The story goes; he wanted a location for his employees to be able to relax by the sea without the need to fear for their wellbeing. Because of this, many of them moved to the area, creating a tight-knit community.
During the height of the segregationist movement, the beach became famous not just for Lewis’ employees but also for anybody wanting to spend some time on the beach without fear of repercussions based on the color of their skin.
Through the conservation efforts of Lewis’ granddaughter, the area was made a national historic site on the National Register of Historic Places. Now visitors can explore the stretch of beach, now hugged on either side by developments and resorts, and learn not only about the history of the area but also the community that still exists there today.
Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, hiking, paddleboarding, flying kites, snorkeling, and even scuba diving can be done at this beach.
Much like other beaches in the area, fishing is a very popular way to enjoy this beach. Surf fishing, in particular, is excellent here. You might have the chance to catch some of the abundant shore fish that swim the waters.
While you can swim in the ocean here, it is worth noting that American Beach has some fairly aggressive riptides. Take caution if you are out in the water and learn about not only how to recognize a riptide but also how to get out of one.
American Beach is located in a historic community, but at the nearby Burney Park, you can definitely find some amenities. Be on the lookout for restrooms, showers, parking, and picnic areas.
Nana Dune, named after MaVynee Betsch (Abraham Lewis’ granddaughter), is the tallest dune in all of Florida.
If you want to discover the area’s full history and its impact within the community, make sure to check out the American Beach Museum. This collection of exhibits explores the cultural history of the area and can be a fantastic educational experience.
The beach and surrounding area is part of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. This stretch of the east coast runs all the way from northern Florida to eastern North Carolina.
Address: 95570 Burney Blvd, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034