For my first blog I want to highlight one of our favorite spots, Fort George inlet in Jacksonville, FL. Most weekends, you’ll find me here. If you have access to a boat, this is where you need to be. If not, make friends with someone who does- that’s the best kind of boat to have. And if you still don’t have access to a boat, I’ll tell you where there’s a good ramp for launching a kayak or paddle board to explore this area.
Fort George is one of those places you can’t really believe is right around the corner from the bustling city of Jacksonville, Florida. However, after many years of living here I’ve come to discover just how many parks and wide open spaces of golden nature we have. It is a truly beautiful hidden gem of a city- but that is for another time and another blog.
Fort George has stretches of white sand and honey colored sandbars that peek through as the tide starts rolling out. Almost magically, what was once covered completely in salt water rushing in from the inlet, becomes a sandbar wonderland as the water begins to flow out. From these sandbars you can swim, float, paddle board, tube, skim board, boogie board or just generally relax with your people and hang out. The sand bars can get quite packed on the weekends, especially on holiday weekends, so you’ll want to get out early. There are multiple boat launch sites that I’ll include below.
There are always lots of families and dogs, and it’s a very family-friendly day experience, and you will be out there all day. Some holiday weekends can get a little rowdy, but there are always family “zones” you can seek out if you’re not into that. Just be prepared either way. And yet other weekends, it’s so calm and peaceful out there you feel like you’re in a middle of nowhere-paradise and you essentially have the whole wondrous place to yourself. You just never know.
Another big plus is the water is very calm out here, the only waves you’ll get are from boats and jet skis driving back and forth. So it’s great for floating and swimming, but the current is swift and strong so be cautious. If you have kiddos, keep a close eye on them and if they aren’t good swimmers, I highly recommend keeping a life jacket on them.
You’ll want to check the tides before you head out. The sandbars are hidden at high tide, so you’ll need someone to guide you out there the first time so you don’t unknowingly hit a sandbar. It can also be very difficult to get out there by boat and/or leave when the tide is completely low, it gets extremely shallow in some places. So you’ll have to plan your coming and going accordingly. But trust me, it’s worth it.
10 things to pack:
- beach chairs to haul onto the sand bars.
- boogie boards/skim boards for the kids to play around on.
- Lots and lots of snacks (particularly if you have kids).
- Drinks, water & ice.
- Beach toys for the kids & adults.
- Lots and lots of sunscreen.
- Your Sublime Rides hat and UPF shirts.
- Umbrellas, particularly in the hot summer months.
- Floats/floating mats, but be sure to have the ability to tie them to the boat.
- First Aid kit, inevitably someone will step on a sharp shell or rogue branch.
Boat Ramps to launch from:
There are many small boat ramps all over Jacksonville to launch from, so you may have one even closer and more convenient to your home, but these are the ones we regularly use:
- Mayport Boat Ramp (4870 Ocean St.), the parking lot fills quickly. Very deep water so any size boat can launch from here. You’ll find many deep sea boats will launch from here and often right at day break.
- Joe Carlucci Sisters Creek Boat Ramp (8414 Heritage River Rd), again any boat can be launched from this location at any tide, this tends to usually be the least crowded ramp of the three we use- if Mayport is full, this is often our next stop.
- Jim King Boat Ramp (8203 Heckscher Dr.), also a great ramp with deep water and very convenient to boat to Fort George from. It can be a little more crowded with only ramp, so be prepared to take turns putting in.
- Alimacani Park (11080 Hecksher Dr.), this ramp is not for boats. Many jet skis will launch here, along with kayakers and paddle boarders. It also is a park so has some little areas to explore and a great dock to fish from. The ramp itself is a little rough, which is why it is not recommended for boaters to use.
We’ve had so many awesome adventures out here, and even a few embarrassing misadventures, which I’ll share with you on my Part 2 of the Fort George Blog, to be continued…and for now, get out there and ride something!