A1A Ocean Islands Trail
Ocean Islands Trail is often referred to as “Florida’s First Coast.” This 40 mile stretch of beaches and barrier islands on Florida’s Atlantic coast are connected by the iconic Highway A1A.
The route traverses Duval and Nassau Counties and 4 small cities, but is part of the Jacksonville metropolitan area. The byway region offers a combination of ecological diversity, colorful history and recreational opportunities galore.
The northern gateway to this byway starts in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island just south of the Georgia-Florida state line. Fernandina Beach has the distinction of being the only city in the U.S. to have flown eight different national flags (French, Spanish, English, Patriot, Confederate and a few others) and contains over 400 historic places. Ocean Islands Trail is uniquely Floridian in the way it edges along the coast and sandy dunes hugging close to the Atlantic Ocean along the way.
The byway also includes the Mayport Ferry, which crosses the St. Johns River into the historic commercial fishing village of Mayport on the south shore. Be sure to stop and eat some locally caught fresh shrimp while visiting here! From there the byway meanders eastward until turning south to pass through the iconic towns of Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville Beaches to end at the southern gateway near J. Turner Butler Boulevard. These towns provide public access to beautiful beaches at many places along the byway.
Native Americans were active in this area centuries ago. Stop by the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve to learn more about native history. The French Huguenots came here in 1562, and some of that story is told in local museums. Take in the beaches, history, local seafood, shopping, upscale resorts, or join in the many recreational opportunities available along this unique byway.