This is known to be a birdwatcher’s paradise, with prime spotting season running from November to March, as the birds migrate south. But Amelia Island is equally popular for its clean, clear water beaches. Dubbed the “Isle of Eight Flags”, the barrier island is never more than three miles wide — just a quarter mile in places. So ditch the car and make your way around on segways, horses, bikes, golf carts, or on foot. Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey and author John Grisham all have homes on the affluent island, which hosts an annual Concours d’Elegance car show every March.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Having opened in 1991, the island’s Ritz-Carlton became an AAA Five-Diamond resort, with its Sandcastle Concierge and direct beach access, an 18-hole championship golf course and an ocean-inspired spa offering a signature “Heaven in a Hammock” massage. Salt is the seafood signature dining venue (so named as it incorporates 40 different salts in the dishes); Coast is a casual alfresco eatery; Coquina is a poolside/oceanfront restaurant; and there’s Tidewater Grill for Lowcountry fare. First Call in The Lobby Bar provides a daily bourbon-based libation and First Drop serves coffee. The hotel has its own signature scent; Votivo 52, which you can buy and take home to recall the feeling of staying on Amelia Island.