If ithere's anything Jacksonville is known for, it's our beaches. There are many beach neighborhoods, each with its unique flavor, demographic and style of living. There are five major beach neighborhoods, from Mayport to the north, through Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach proper, and Ponte Vedra Beach to the south. Separated by the Intracoastal Waterway, (affectionately called the ditch) from mainland Jacksonville, these contiguous string of beaches begin at the southern border of Fernandina Beach to the north (home of the nationally known Amelia Island Resort), and reach all the way southward to St. Augustine.
The Naval Air Station (NAS) in Mayport is a major U.S. Navy Base, and includes some of the Mayport seashore, but its major operations are just inland. Mayport Beach is popular for its plentiful choices of common picnic and gathering areas, and campgrounds either on, or a short walk to the beach. A highlight of Mayport beach is Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. Hanna Park has about 450 acres of natural, undisturbed protected coastal dunes. It also boasts a network of 15 miles of wooded nature biking trails, with differing levels of difficulty; rated for the novice biker to the serious triathletes. Three hundred campsites are also situated in the Hanna Park Forests for tent and RV camping.
Atlantic and Neptune Beach connect at the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard (feeding from Southside and Arlington). This intersection has seen a resurgence in the last two decades, with a range of restaurant and beachfront hotel options. Continuing south on Third Street which is the beaches main drag, three blocks inland from the ocean discover Jacksonville Beach, with the longest stretch of ocean among the three beach boroughs. Jax Beach has been renovated in recent years to its current "seaside village" feel, with privately owned mid-to-upscale restaurants such as the Freebird Cafe, an entertainment venue of choice, which offers an eclectic mix of performers, from the retro-folk and pop, to the most contemporary edge of today's music scene. Whether it's an oceanfront hotel or seaside residence, there's nothing like an ocean view to put things in perspective.