The A1A Coastal Road - the Atlantic Coast of Florida - Orlando / Florida Guide
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“The Scenic & Historic A1A Coastal Road is more than a name – it’s a state of being. ” We picked it up in Daytona and travelled up Ocean Shore Boulevard through Ormond Beach right the way up to the Fernandina Beach, St Amelia with a couple of nights stay in St Augustine. Just the name Ocean Shore Boulevard brings up images of mile after mile of gleaming white sandy beaches with sand oats swaying in the breeze.
The A1A runs along the Atlantic Ocean in sections from Key West to Fernandina Beach and has a subtropical landscape and fabulous ocean views where it runs alongside the Ocean, and in other places runs a few blocks in. It runs along Florida’s East Coast Barrier Islands, which are separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. These roads can be prone to road closure or damage during hurricanes or tropical storms, so keep an eye on the weather forecast. The road ends at the St John’s River where you can take a ferry to the northern section of the A1A – don’t do what we did which was miss the signs completely and end up in the naval base where the naval police kindly closed the road to allow us to turn round and gave us directions to pick up the correct road. (Something tells me we’re not the first and won’t be the last to do this! ) We then drove up to Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach where you loop back on yourself. We ended up eating an early supper at ' Sandy Bottoms' on the beachfront, where we ate a very tasty meal of shrimps. The name says it all really!
It’s a slower pace of life along the Coastal Highway, with plenty of rest stops where you can either sit on the beach and then take a shower in the rest area, or just stop and eat your packed lunch as we did overlooking the ocean with nothing in site except some hungry herons flying in formation in the hope we would throw something their way! You can dip your toes in the ocean or surf the waves – just check that the beach allows swimming, most have no lifeguards but do have a flag system that warns you of any possible problems.
The Atlantic Ocean, bays, marshes, rivers and immaculate beaches and dunes play a major part in forming the natural traits of the byway and have fashioned and inspired the culture and livelihood of the area' s inhabitants. This is reflected in the attractions, architecture, art and festivals in the area. There are many state parks and estuaries where you can interact as little or as much as you wish with the natural world that surrounds you. Boardwalks and trails offer opportunities to explore the areas without damaging the habitat. You can take ecotours or boat trips to explore the aquatic ecosystem.
With the Intracoastal Waterway shadowing the route from Daytona up to Fernandino you not only see a huge variety of wildlife and birds, but you can go kayaking or canoeing in the canals or shallow lakes. Fossils have also been found along the Intracoastal Waterway, these remains include woolly mammoths, mastodons, camels, sloths, fish, birds, beavers, tapirs and deer.
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