Amazing Paddles on Amelia Island - No. 3 Simpson Creek
The first inhabitants of Amelia Island were Timucuan Indians who were known for being a tall and healthy people. They lived off the land hunting and gathering for food particularly marine wildlife including alligators, manatee and shell fish. In fact, prominent remaining artifacts are their mounds of oyster shells which can be found throughout the area. Simpson Creek is located in a salt marsh that is now the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
Simpson Creek is considered one of the best places to paddle board in Florida. You have the option to paddle north or south on Simpson Creek. For this paddle boarding tour you will head north from the launch point. Paddling through the salt marsh you will see an abundance of birds, especially egrets.
As you continue through the meandering marsh you with come to Half Moon Bluff (pictured above), an unexpected and beautiful natural feature. It is a bluff about 30 feet high and is layered with dark gray clay on the bottom, white sand, palmettos and oak trees on top creating a canopy of vibrant green. There are a number of empty beaches to explore along the way as well. Simpson Creek eventually empties into the Nassau Sound and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean.
The Nassau Sound is the turnaround point for this paddle board trip and has quite the reputation for being treacherous to navigate. Many ships have been reported to have sank in and around the sound. One of the most popular is the San Miguel, a Spanish vessel, which sank back in 1715 during a hurricane. It is estimated that the San Miguel was carrying over $2 billion dollars in gold and jewels. One of the most sought after pieces from the ship’s cargo includes the “Queens Jewels” which were commissioned by King Felipe V of Spain for his bride. Don’t be surprised to see the Polly L (pictured below) anchored in the sound on your paddle. The Polly L is a state of the art treasure hunting vessel that has been searching for the San Miguel and its loot for years now. You can learn more about the salvage operation based here on Amelia Island by clicking here.
For this paddle board tour you can start and end at either Kayak Amelia (recommended) or the A1A bridge over Simpson Creek. The only time we use the A1A bridge is if we leave or return after hours. Go to Kayak Amelia for their operating hours and directions by clicking here. Either way, it is only a 10-minute drive from Amelia Island to the launch point.
The key to maximizing the natural beauty of this paddle boarding tour is timing. It is best to go when you can line up the tide and sun. The length of the paddle is about 5 miles, round trip. If you have never been on a SUP board before I would suggest a paddle board lesson to learn the basics before doing this trip. A guided paddle board tour will ensure you are in the right place at the right time. To learn more about paddle boarding lessons and tours click here.
Be sure to bring your PFD (preferably an inflatable belt PFD) and marine whistle as the Park Rangers do patrol the creek. And while it should go without saying, be sure your board is equipped with a SUP leash, preferably a coiled SUP leash. Enjoy!