Nestled between Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach off Hecksher Drive, you’ll find the Talbot Islands State Park. These seven state parks offer miles of sandy beaches for nature study, fishing, and relaxation as well as activities like hiking, camping, bicycling, kayaking, and more.
Adam and I recently made a trip out to Big and Little Talbot Island to explore and discovered a great new place to enjoy Florida outdoors. With its rich history and variety of activities among the Florida landscape, the Talbot Islands offer a perfect escape to the busy city life.
History of Talbot Island State Park
Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Native Americans, whom the Europeans called Timucua, were the first to inhabit these barrier islands until the French Huguenots arrived in 1562 and claimed the land as their own. The area was named Talbot Islands in 1735 in honor of Charles Baron Talbot, Lord High Chancellor of England, by General James Oglethorpe.
Between 1763 and 1821, the Talbot Islands were used for plantation agriculture where oranges, sugar, indigo, and cotton were grown. Little Talbot Island was used for livestock grazing. By the end of the 1800s, plantations were being replaced by tourism. Hotels were constructed in the area and wealthy patrons arrived to the area by steamboat. Highway A1A was constructed in the 1920s which connected the island to the mainland and allowed common locals to enjoy fishing and swimming in the area.
In 1951, the deed for Little Talbot Island was transferred to to the Board of Parks and Historic Memorials, who continues to preserve and maintain the park today.
Big Talbot Island is primarily a nature preserve and home to Boneyard Beach, a unique beach famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore. Big Talbot Island offers numerous hiking and biking trails including the half-mile Big Pine trail that leads to the marsh.
The Talbot Islands are part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve which also encompasses Fort Carolina National Memorial and Spanish Pond trail which I’ve written previously about here.