Escape to a Barrier Island Respite
By Charlene & Richard Mixa
Miles of Atlantic Ocean views, fantastic sandy beaches, luxurious relaxing oceanfront accommodations, refreshing resort pools, challenging championship golf and a plethora of activities greet us at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Located on a barrier island just north of Jacksonville, FL, we find a 1,350 acre resort in lush Florida landscape nestled between the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the green marshland, and the Intracoastal Waterway. Driving into the resort, huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss line the entrance creating a welcoming Southern charm to the Plantation. An amazing upscale resort that promises a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle.
A wide variety of accommodations are available from resort guest rooms with ocean views to secluded villas hidden among the intriguing landscape. Breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean are seen from our fifth floor Premier Oceanfront Room. Relaxation and comfort are primary in this 439-square-foot room with two queen beds, a working desk, and a luxurious modern bathroom. Our room faces south providing a wonderful panoramic ocean vista and a reprieve from the November northeasterly winds. After a long drive we are ready for a “stretch of the legs.” Ah, the smell of the sea air and beach beckon for an afternoon stroll along the 3.5 miles of pristine seashore. While the winds deter going for a dip, we relish the refreshing walk. With the tide out, the deep seashore offers a perfect walking terrain. Along the walk we spot the various resort accommodations, a few ocean golf holes and other walkers enjoying an afternoon beach stroll.
Opting to do a bit of exploring while on the Island, we enjoy a delicious dinner at Joe’s Second Street Bistro in the quaint downtown of Fernandina Beach. After dinner, it’s a leisurely walk along the streets of this charming southern town. On a Monday night things are a bit quiet, but we thoroughly enjoy window shopping in the numerous unique boutique stores. The historic Palace Saloon is a must stop to belly up to the bar and hear the tall tales of Florida’s Oldest Bar.
A beautiful morning sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean begins our day. More views await at the Sunrise Café for an indulgent breakfast. Choices are many from the “Art of Breakfast” buffet but we opt to dine ala carte. The Plantation Breakfast definitely suits me with two eggs, plantation potatoes, whole wheat toast, and Earl Grey tea. The maple-blueberry organic sausage is a hit for both of us, very flavorful. Richard is thrilled with the French toast and raves about it: “The best he ever had!”
Boasting a first-class golf experience, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation is home to three incredible championship courses. Today we play the Ocean Links Golf Course. Quickly checking, we warm up at the practice range preparing to tackle the course. On past visits we have golfed the Oak Marsh course which is along lagoons and marsh wetlands so we are looking forward to the Ocean Links Golf Course as it winds through six miles of natural sand dunes and seaside terrain. Teeing off on the first hole we find a course that is both welcoming and challenging. Starting with par-4’s we feel confident with pars and a bogey. Arriving at Hole No. 4 along a coastal dune ridge on the Atlantic Ocean, we find very demanding holes. What appears to be a simple short par-4 quickly brings new dimensions of winds from the Ocean, terrain and testy green. The next two ocean holes are scenic, challenging par-3’s. Hurrah! It’s pars for both of us!
The course then winds back through the lagoons and marshland before returning to the ocean dunes on Hole No. 15 a demanding par-3. Drives are directly into a stiff ocean breeze to an elevated green. Watching the group in front struggle on this hole, we smartly select more club that is required to reach the green. Barely, surviving this hole with bogies, we arrive at the final ocean hole, No. 16 a par-4 along the seashore that has a hidden green and narrow fairway. Errant shots and even good shots are easily lost in the rough along the narrow fairway. The undulating green is tricky. No. 17 is a long par-5 that leads us to the amazing finishing hole, a par-3 whose green is strategically place in the waters of Red Maple Lake. Precision is required to not overshoot and end up in the lake. Delightful, challenging and fun – our golf day on the Ocean Links Course is as much a nature tour as a round of golf. Now for a tasty lunch and relaxation. The Marsh View Bar and Grill is so convenient and offers a varied menu to hit the spot for hungry golfers with its Southern-inspired casual fare overlooking the golf course. Here, we enjoy tasty sandwiches as we relive our exciting morning of golf.
Ah, now to chill out! Back at our room, we quickly change into swimsuits and head off for a relaxing respite by the water. Fantastic! The Plantation has the largest multi-tiered pool deck in northeast Florida. Choices, choices, choices- there is a 10,000-square-foot family-friendly pool with a few children splashing around today, a Splash Park water playground for kids, and an adults-only infinity edge pool and hot tubs. Being November it is a bit cool, so we opt to rest our weary bodies in the hot tub in the adults-only area. Ah! The jets massage our muscles and quickly relieve any tension. Locating comfy chaise lounges in the tiered decks, away from the ocean breeze, we stretch out on the guest beach towels for an afternoon nap. The adults-only pool provides stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Definitely, a wonderful respite for relaxing and unwinding. Afterwards, it’s a short walk along the beach before returning to our room.
Refreshed, we take a leisurely walk through the resorts walkways to Marche Burette, a gourmet market featuring wine, spirits, gourmet cookware and wine accessories. Shopping for unique items for family and friends, we then stroll around the lake and find numerous other shops offering specialty retail merchandise. Along the way, we see guests biking the many trails in this massive resort. Umm- maybe next time, we will pedal along these paths. For dinner, we decide to check out a local eatery, and then return to Plantation to enjoy sitting around the fire pit by the pool enjoying a beautiful moonlight with a gentle ocean breeze.
Awakening to a beautiful sunrise with a gentle breeze, it’s perfect for a morning walk along the beach. Scenic and peaceful, we finish our walk by stopping in at the Sunrise Café for breakfast. Richard is still enamored with the French toast and has it again today. Today, I opt for the Pecanwood Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, tomato, caper, fried egg on a bagel. Excellent!
Spending three days and two nights at the Resort is a delightful respite for us. Be prepared, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation is huge with its 1,350 acres offering so many options for accommodations from condominiums to villas to traditional hotel rooms. The staff is excellent and ready to assist with any request. Boredom is not a problem unless you choose to do nothing. There are many activities to meet anyone of any age’s desire. We found great walking paths through the hammocks, numerous shops, a rejuvenating spa, challenging golf, amazing pools, expansive beaches, trails to bike, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and MORE.
If you go:
Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 39 Beach Lagoon Rd, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034