Hi Thomas, tell us a little bit about your background and Amelia Adventures…
My family is originally from Amelia Island. My dad was raised here and I spent my childhood learning to surf here. And about 5 years ago, my wife and I decided to move back. We just loved the idea of living on the island and working here. We loved getting out and exploring the areas, paddling, there are just so many great destinations you can get to from Amelia. It was the perfect home base. So the idea of starting Amelia Adventures stemmed from those experiences. We wanted to create a place where people were able to have the ultimate paddling experience. Not just a regular tour or beginner lesson, but an entire experience exploring and learning how to SUP at the same time.
We run paddleboard, kayak, and nature boat tours for visitors. In our area there can be challenges with the tide and currents so we work hard to pick out the best tour for that specific day. We really tailor it towards the groups having the best experience you can have on the water. We also have a retail storefront where our guests meet and check-in. it’s really easy to find. And our guides are top-notch. They know the area very well and on top of that, they really enjoy leading the tours. Which makes for a great experience for everyone.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with paddleboarding:
My wife and I have always been outdoor enthusiasts. She was an Outward Bound instructor a few years ago. And I’ve been a paddler and kayaker, as well as a raft guide since my early 20’s. Eventually, we started to SUP and as I said, just loved paddling around the Amelia Island area. So, setting up a paddling outfitter was really just a natural fit.
Location Overview - Tell us about your water environment:
We have a little bit of everything in our spot. We have river, ocean sound, ocean inlet, tidal estuaries, which is more of a marshland area, inland freshwater, black water creeks, and areas that look more like mangroves. These protected areas are great for when the wind is a bit high and it’s difficult to paddle. We will take groups on our shuttle to a more protected area like the estuaries or the mangroves to keep the paddling light and fun. And then around Talbot Island, we have a spot with white sandy beaches that we call driftwood beach. It’s an excellent spot for photos. It’s really beautiful.
Services Offered at Amelia Adventures:
We offer paddleboarding, kayaking, private tours, adventure retreats, and boat tours around Amelia and Cumberland Island. The boat tours are centered around the wildlife in the area. So we take groups to places where they will be able to see dolphins, manatees, and even wild horses on Cumberland Island. And there are really cool spots to see like the Dungeness ruins on Cumberland too.
Can you tell us some interesting notes about the area?
Besides the interesting ruins, there are also remains of a Carnegie mansion in the area and of course the historic downtown area on Amelia Island. We always recommend visitors to head there. It’s the bustling city center where you can find great places to shop, eat, sightsee, it’s really fun.
Is Amelia Adventures seasonal or does it operate year-round?
We operate year-round.
Tell us about your favorite local restaurants:
Amelia Island is the city on the island but it’s located in Fernandina Beach. In the historic downtown on Amelia, there is Florida’s oldest bar called the Palace Saloon. That’s definitely a place to check out. And then in the historic downtown, there is a fantastic culinary scene. We always recommend visitors head there and walk around and explore. Specifically, though, I would say Burlingame is great, Timoti’s is great for seafood, España is good for tapas. The whole island though is 14 miles long and 2 miles wide, so once you’re here, everything is very convenient no matter where you head.
Where would you recommend travelers stay nearby?
I would say the best place to stay is at Fort Clinch State Park. It’s $26 a night for camping and if you have an RV it’s perfect for that as well. There are about 5 to 10 bed and breakfasts on the island as well. I recommend Elizabeth Point Lodge if you’d like a bed and breakfast atmosphere. And if you are looking for a resort-type place there is the Ritz, and a place called the Omni.
Are there any additional activities nearby that you recommend besides SUP?
Definitely check out the historic downtown. That’s where all the excitement is. You can also tour Fort Clinch. It’s only $6 to get into the state park and there is a great view once inside. But there is also surfing, paddle surfing, kiteboarding, shopping, a ton of gold options, and a great 6-mile mountain biking loop which is significantly challenging for a Florida mountain biking trail but incredibly fun.
Our signature service is definitely our paddling retreat. Amelia Island has world class waterways which make for a fantastic destination to paddle in. We bill it as a holistic, 4 days of wellness where we focus on exercise and building confidence. They are run from Monday through Thursday which gives us the opportunity to keep an eye on the weather and pick the best places for us to paddle each day. And depending on the weather we can go to Cumberland Island, Amelia Island, Talbot Island State Park, or Silver Springs. There a ton of options and exciting places to see.
We provide everything you need during the retreat. You can bring your own boards if you’d like but we have boards, pfds, transport, we even make healthy, delicious lunches every day. We really take pride in making our retreats a world-class paddling experience for everyone involved. We want people to enjoy their time on the water so much, it becomes unforgettable.
We are currently running trips on September 28th, October 26th, and November 30th.
10% off all services
Perfect Paddles Recommendation: A fully customizable tour with the excellent instructors at Amelia Adventures! Spend time on the close Cumberland Island or other nearby stopping points to take it all in!
Closest City: Jacksonville
Signature Service: Tours
Best Time to Visit: The winter months to avoid excessive heat- October to March. Pro-Tip: visit at the end of the season to avoid large crowds! Instead of December, a visit in September/October or March is the best time to go to avoid the tourist seasons.
Distance from Airport: 41-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport
Welcome! Amelia Adventures is a family-owned and operated company and we’re thrilled to have you!Thomas and Catherine Oliver are an exuberant and high-spirited guide team, passionate about their work and the environment. Thomas has over 25 years of kayak and guiding experience and has traveled extensively on world-class outdoor expeditions. A professional television producer and photographer, his work has been featured on such popular shows as Deadliest Catch on The Discovery Channel, and Coast Guard Alaska on The Weather Channel.Catherine was an Outward Bound Instructor with over 20 years of guiding, kayaking, and canoeing experience. She’s also a registered nurse and has specialized in areas such as cardiology, infection prevention, performance improvement, case management, and teaching. Her love for nature and adventure has provided her with rich travel experiences. She and Thomas are part of a fourth-generation Fernandina Beach family and enjoy sharing the beauty of Amelia Island and surrounding areas. They believe in protecting natural resources and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics in all of their guided tours.
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Address: 1630 Scott Rd
United StatesCertification: ACA SUP Level 1Buddy Deal: Save 10% on rentals & services*Address: 1630 Scott Rd
United StatesCertification: ACA SUP Level 1Buddy Deal: Save 10% on rentals & services*
Address: 316 Ash St
United StatesCertification: ACA Level 1 SUPAddress: 316 Ash St
United StatesCertification: ACA Level 1 SUP