Kevin Beaugrand and Lauren Willins
Little Talbot Island State Park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy unspoiled beaches and dune habitat that harbors a wide variety of wildlife.
Located off Heckscher Drive north of Mayport, the undeveloped barrier island has five miles of beachfront, much of which is littered with driftwood, sharks’ teeth and animals, like gopher tortoises and shorebirds.
But there’s more to Little Talbot Island than wildlife viewing and shell collecting. The park also has campgrounds, walking trails, birdwatching, and excellent fishing.
“I’ve caught a ladyfish, further down at the jetties I’ve caught a shark, drum, you know, it’s all out here,” visitor Kevin Longo said. “Somebody told me they saw an alligator out here one time, actually.”
Though Talbot’s pristine waters present swimmers and surfers with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the Atlantic in an uncrowded setting, bathers must be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty throughout the year at Little Talbot Island State Park.
Because the park is undisturbed habitat for native and migratory wildlife, there are rules that visitors must follow. Removing driftwood and starting fires on the beach is prohibited, as the weathered trunks of washed up cedar and palm trees act as infrastructure to hold the sensitive dunes in place. In fact, the parking lots and pavilions were built two hundred yards from shore to prevent the man-made structures from disrupting the natural ebb and flow of the beachfront.
“This is probably the most undisturbed beach in Jacksonville, I’d say,” Longo said.
To find out more about the 2,500-acre park’s campsites, events, trails and more, visit the website at https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/little-talbot-island-state-park.