One of the most popular beaches in north Florida is Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot island. It is accessible by hiking in from Big Talbot State Park or from the water via the Nassau Sound. One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of this beach is by paddle board. Here you will paddle by the skeletal remains of massive fallen oak trees that have been bleached by the salt and sun over the years. The weathered root beds of these trees are nothing short of pieces of art.
The launch spot for this paddle board tour is the Saw Pit Boat Ramp. The current can be quite swift here so be careful. Head northeast from the boat ramp towards the George Crady Bridge and Fishing Pier. Keep an eye out for fisherman on the bridge and avoid their lines. From there you will pass under AIA and enter the Nassau Sound.
The Nassau Sound is known for being treacherous to navigate. Over the centuries there have been numerous ship wrecks in and around the sound. One of the more popular wrecks is the San Miguel which reportedly sank back in 1715 during a hurricane. Reports indicate that the San Miguel sank with over $2 billion dollars in gold and jewels on board. You can learn more about this ship wreck and the hunt for its treasure here.
As you head east into the sound you will see the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance. Across the sound to the north is Amelia Island State Park. Keep to the right along the shoreline of Big Talbot. As you paddle along the shore you will notice the fallen trees on the beach. Be sure to stop along the beach to get an up-close look at the trees. In fact, I recommend multiple stops along the beach to take in all the natural beauty!
Once on the beach you may notice what appears to be black rocks along the shore. If you look closely you will find that instead of rock it is actually clay. Timucuan Indians were the first inhabitants of this area over 2000 years ago. They were known to make pottery from the clay deposits in the area. Keep an eye out for bones as well. It has been reported that archaeologists have found fossilized mammoth bones on the beach.
Continuing on you will come to my favorite place to stop - Hideaway Beach (pictured above). Access to this secluded beach is limited. As the name implies you may find that you are the only people on this section of beach. It is also a great place to take a break from paddling and explore.
You may be lucky and find a makeshift tepee or shelter made from the trees and debris that wash ashore. Hideaway Beach is the turnaround point for this paddle boarding tour.
This paddle board tour begins and ends at the Saw Pit Boat Ramp. Heading south on AIA, the launch spot is about a 10-minute drive from Amelia Island. Be sure to time this paddle board tour with the tide. Don't forget to check the wind forecast just prior to departing. The length of the paddle is about 2 hours, round trip.
Be mindful at low tide it can be shallow in areas. Keep an eye out for oyster beds as well. As such, I would recommend a paddle board lesson to learn the basics before doing this trip.
Be sure to bring your PFD (preferably an inflatable belt PFD) and marine whistle. With the potential for submerged hazards and shallow areas, be sure your board is equipped with a coiled SUP leash. A straight SUP leash could get caught on something.