Amelia Island & Big Talbot Island Canoe Tours

Amelia Island & Yulee Florida Area Big Canoe Tours



lofton creek turtleThis protected hardwood creek in Yulee, Florida allows for a relaxing paddle any time of day. Shaded and shielded from the winds, the creek cuts through the forest and wanders back in time. Paddlers on Lofton Creek may see turtles and alligators sunning on fallen trees — and woodpeckers, Kingfishers and hawks flying through the canopy. Cypress knees rising out of the tea colored waters surround the Bald Cypress trees lining the creek; and a variety of flowers take turns blooming throughout every season of the year.

Winding its way through the trees as it approaches the salt marsh interface, this blackwater creek shelters a wide variety of birds and animals. Paddle at your own pace through towering maple, bay and cypress trees as you listen to the birds and scan for wildlife. Commonly seen along the route are herons, hawks, anhingas, woodpeckers, turtles, alligators, otters and a large assortment of both freshwater and saltwater fish.

Unlike the salt marsh or open water, the trees along Lofton Creek offer protection from the wind, making this a great paddle even on very windy days. The creek is tidally influenced, but the current is very mild and relatively easy to paddle against — allowing us to paddle this trip at any time of day and making it an easy activity to plug into an vacation itinerary.

This is an easy trip suited for all skill-levels and all ages; though, on kayak trips, small children may have to ride in a tandem kayak with an adult. Although we don’t usually get wet, we suggest wearing clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Guides will provide water and a snack, but you’re welcome to bring along anything you’d like. We’ll also have a number of dry bags available for electronics (keys; phones; etc…) or anything you may need to bring along and keep dry. Typically, we enjoy two-hours of paddling on this easy year-round trip. The meeting spot and launch site for this trip is the Melton O. Nelson boat ramp in Yulee, Florida — located on A1-A midway between I-95 and Amelia Island.  Book Your Big Canoe Adventure Now.

Canoe Tour Big Talbot IslandA barrier island on the Atlantic Coast between Amelia Island and Little Talbot Island, Big Talbot Island is best know for its unusual rocky shoreline called Blackrock Beach. These rocks are actually decaying vegetation brought in by the tides and hardened under the sun’s rays. One step on this beach, overlooking a sweep of dark rocks, saw palmetto on the bluffs, and the bleached bones of live oaks turned to giant driftwood along the shore, and you’d think you’re in Hawaii.

This premier Florida state park is the perfect location for wildlife viewing, exploring diverse habitats and, of course, Boneyard Beach. Boneyard Beach is home to a huge collection of protected driftwood. Driftwood is an understatement as many of the ocean bleached “bones” are from towering ancient oaks and huge fallen cedar trees that litter the entire beach for miles.

Big Talbot Island was used by the early Native Americans for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. In 1562, when the French Huguenots arrived on these shores, they found a large culture of Natives, naming them Timucua — which was probably adopted from a word used by the Saturiwa to refer to a rival group. Many of Florida’s landmarks are named after Timucuan words, even Florida’s capitol, Tallahassee, which means, “abandoned town.”

By the time English explorer General James Oglethorpe arrived here in 1735, the Timucua had all perished. He named the islands after Charles Baron Talbot, the Lord High Chancellor of England. The area was converted into plantations that served the United Kingdom and it residents for many years to come. It would be another 100 years before Florida eventually became a state.

Today, the plantations are all gone, the forests have grown back and nature has reclaimed this once populated northeastern Florida barrier island. It is now home to some of Florida’s most unique hiking trails, fishing grounds and paddling experiences in the state.

Our Big Talbot Island trips allow you to walk in the footsteps of ancient Native Americans as well as French and Spanish explorers. Paddling along the shoreline, the scenery is stunning and the wildlife is abundant. Half-day trips provide an opportunity to experience this unique locale from a different perspective; and Full-day trips offer the perfect opportunity for a picnic lunch under giant driftwood trees — and plenty of time for play and exploration. Book Your Big Canoe Adventure Now.

Egans Creek Greenway The mild subtropical climate of Northern Florida supports an abundance of temperate salt marsh vegetation and wildlife. Rich in nutrients, these marshes feed and protect millions of ribbed mussels, fiddler crabs and the periwinkle snails. Low tide brings a host of other predacious animals into the marsh to feed as herons, egrets, ibis, raccoons, and others spread over the exposed marsh floor and the muddy banks of the tidal creeks in search of food.

Following the winding creeks through the marshes, surrounded by gently waving marsh grass, paddlers are given a real sense of solitude. The watery pathways meander through the quiet, almost mysterious landscape inhabited by a wide variety of native birds, animals, and plants. The marshes, some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, do not overpower the observer with awe, but rather reveals its charm in small, subtle ways.

The path through the marsh follows the western border of Ft. Clinch State Park. Its large maritime forests provide protection from the wind and shelter for the parks native inhabitants. It is typified by live oaks, southern magnolias, and cabbage palms shading understory species such as the red bay, yaupon and American holly, sparkleberry, wax myrtle, saw palmetto, vines (muscadine, cat brier, Virginia creeper), Spanish moss and a variety of ferns and woods flowers. Deer, raccoons and alligators can sometimes be spotted along the edge of the marsh and in the trees of Ft. Clinch State Park.

This is an easy trip suited for all experience levels. Egans Creek is tidally influenced and must be paddled with the current. Because of this, trip times change daily and there may be some days when this trip in not available.   Book Your Big Canoe Adventure Now.

Cumberland Island Dungeness Ruins This trip provides an opportunity to visit to the Dungeness ruins, an old Carnegie estate. Dungeness has a colorful history and was the centerpiece of the island’s society and the Carnegie family around the 1900’s. Constructed by Thomas Carnegie, for decades it was a symbol of opulence famous for lavish parties for elite guests. Paddlers launching from Amelia Island or Crooked River State Park paddle approximately 2 to 2.5-hours to either the Dungeness Dock or the Sea Camp dock, where they will set off on foot to explore Cumberland Island. From the Sea Camp dock, the beach is only a short, five-minute walk; while the walk to Dungeness is closer to 30-minutes. There are many sights along the trails on this part of the island, from wild horses to remnants of architecture and technology that put Cumberland Island years ahead of the mainland. The Ice House Museum is also just a few steps from the Dungeness dock.

This trip is geared towards the intermediate-level paddler, mostly due to the open water conditions. Paddlers navigate the Cumberland Sound in Voyageur-style Canoes where they are exposed to strong tides, winds, waves and boat traffic. Afternoon winds and storms can create challenging conditions during the return trip. Our safety standards are the highest in the industry and our wind and weather limits for Cumberland Island trips are very strict, but conditions in nature — especially on open water — are always subject to change. Our Big Canoes are equal to the task, but customers must be physically capable. This is a wonderful and physical full-day adventure — especially during the warmer months. Paddling to Cumberland Island in a Kayak or in a War Canoe earns any paddler bragging rights! This trip may depart from Crooked River State Park (outgoing tides) or Amelia Island (incoming tides).

Lunch is not included in the price of this trip, but for an additional fee, lunch arrangements may be made for this trip. A typical lunch will include: Sandwich; chips; fresh fruit and a treat. Water and snacks will also be provided, but it is always a good idea to bring extra water and anything else you think you may want to eat, drink or have on hand once you get to the island. We may be able to accommodate special requests or dietary restrictions if needed.  Book Your Big Canoe Adventure Now.

horse in marsh on Cumberland smThis trip is an Island-hopping escape. Leaving from the North End of Amelia Island and crossing the Cumberland Sound, the Horse Creek trip is sure to please those seeking a bit more adventure on their paddling trip. Though it is a short paddle from  the Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp, the crossing from Amelia Island to Cumberland Island can be quite exciting. Heavy boat traffic (including the occasional nuclear submarine), strong currents and big seas require the ability to paddle vigorously in conditions. Afternoon winds on the Cumberland Sound always make for an interesting paddle.

The South-End Adventure departing  from St. Marys and can be anywhere from 5 to 7-miles, depending on where we land on Cumberland Island. Though a much longer paddle, this trip avoids the biggest part of the Sound while giving us access to the same part of the island. The trip over takes approximately 2-hours and then, depending on where we land, there could be a couple more hours of walking and exploring before climbing back into the canoes for a 2-hour return trip. These trips are a full-day of activity, but both offer priceless moments of solitude as you relax on a deserted beach.

These Cumberland Island south end trips are ideal island getaways for nature lovers. There are no Mansions or Ruins on the remote south end; just undisturbed flora and fauna enjoying parts of the island only accessible by water. Horses and crabs share the south end cut trail with visitors hiking between the maritime forest and the beach. Vast marshlands filled with grazing wild horses and a variety of feeding birds offer a stark contrast to the massive guns atop the walls of Fort Clinch just across the channel guarding the entrance between Amelia and Cumberland. Whether alone on miles of white sand beach, or wandering through the dunes or maritime forest, this trip offers coastal barrier island beauty at it’s most pristine.

Lunch is not included in the price of this trip, but for an additional fee, lunch arrangements may be made for this trip. A typical lunch will include: Sandwich; chips; fresh fruit and a treat. Water and snacks will also be provided, but it is always a good idea to bring extra water and anything else you think you may want to eat, drink or have on hand once you get to the island. We may be able to accommodate special requests or dietary restrictions if needed. Book Your Big Canoe Adventure Now.

A Little about Amelia Island


Amelia Island and Nassau County are home to some of the most interesting paddling in the region. Beaches and salt marsh provide scenic backdrops for many of the area’s trips; but Nassau County also features a trip reminiscent of parts of the Okefenokee Swamp. From still, blackwater creeks to the swift and turbulent waters of Cumberland Sound, Northeast Florida offers paddlers a wide variety of paddling venues – ranging from mild-to-wild.

Paddling with Up The Creek Xpeditions is also the only way to get to Cumberland Island National Seashore from Amelia Island. As the area’s only outfitter meeting all the requirements for safely and legally taking visitors into the National Seashore, Up The Creek is a great alternative for Amelia visitors who don’t want to, or are not able to, drive to St. Marys, Georgia to take the Cumberland Island Ferry over to the island.

Some of the landscape and scenery is much as it was hundreds of years ago – giving paddlers a sense of traveling back in time. Whether paddling across Cumberland Sound, drifting through the marshes of Egans Creek, or exploring the swamps of Yulee on Lofton Creek, if you’re paddling in Northeast Florida, you’re retracing the paths of Native Americans and intrepid explorers who traveled these waters centuries before.

An Island Rich in History

Amelia Island is one of the most historic places in the state of Florida, having flown under eight flags. First settled by Timucuan Indians, it was “discovered” by Frenchman Jean Ribault in 1562. In 1565, Spanish forces drove out the French and took control of Northeast Florida, establishing a mission on the island and renaming it Isla de Santa Maria. In the early 18th century, the British named the island “Amelia Island,” established a small settlement, and attempted to buy it; but the Spanish refused until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, when the Spanish traded Florida for control of Havana, Cuba. During the Revolutionary War, loyalists from South Carolina and Georgia fled to the island, and many used it as an embarkation point to return to England. The Second Treaty of Paris, in 1783, returned Florida to the Spanish. In 1811, the town of Fernandina was established, named for King Ferdinand of Spain.

In 1812, a group of Americans calling themselves the “Patriots of Amelia Island” attempted to seize control of Amelia Island. President Madison sent in troops, who raised the American flag at Fernandina, but fears of sparking a war with Spain led the president to withdraw the troops early the next year, returning the island to Spanish control. However, this was not the last insurgency on the island. In 1817, Gregor MacGregor led a small army in an attack on Fort San Carlos, the Spanish fort at Fernandina, and raised his own flag, the Green Cross of Florida. MacGregor hoped to conquer Florida, and his troops fought the Spanish in the Battle of Amelia Island. The Americans joined forces with a pirate, who claimed the island on behalf of the Republic of Mexico, before finally surrendering to the United States.

Named for Princess Amelia, daughter of George II of Great Britain, the island has changed hands between colonial powers a number of times. It is claimed that eight flags have flown over Amelia Island: French, Spanish, British, Patriot, Green Cross, Mexican, Confederate, and United States.