Huguenot Memorial Park – A Family Trip worth Taking

One of Jacksonville’s best kept secrets is the Huguenot Memorial Park. Escape the crowds from Jacksonville Beach, enjoy the calmer waters, even drive on the beach!  There is so much for families to do here,  you’ll  have to keep coming back!

The park has access to and is surrounded by the Fort George Inlet, Saint Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean front. Not only can you camp right on the water here, but there are so many activities to do and so much to see.

History of Huguenot Memorial Park

The Huguenots were members of the Protestant reform Church of France during the 16thand 17th centuries.  When France was torn by religious strife, Guspard De Coligny, admiral of France, sent two vessels to the New World in search of refuge for the Huguenots in 1592.  Jean Ribault led the expedition, arriving off of the coast of Florida.

There they met friendly Indians and established a settlement.  Ribault did the journey again in 1565, only this time him and his men were shipwrecked near St. Augustine.  They were murdered by Spanish Governor, Pedro Menedez because he feared the invasion of France on Spain’s Florida Empire.  This Jacksonville beach was named “Huguenot Memorial Park” to remember these brave men.  A plaque can be seen in park entrance.

Who were the Huguenots?  The name Huguenots were applied to the disinters from the Church of Rome.  These French Protestants followed the teachings of John Calvin and because of religious persecution practiced their faith in secret.  The word Hugeon was used to signify a person who walks at night.  This was used as a description as their only safe place of worship for 100 years had been the dark caves.

Huguenot Park Has So Many Things To do!

If you are looking for a fun, family friendly place that everyone can enjoy at a great price, this Jacksonville beach is a must do.  One of the most popular activities you can do on this 450 acre horseshoe shaped peninsula is camping right on the beach.  There are 70 primitive (no hook-ups) campgrounds where each site offers a picnic table, a fire station to cook and allows both RVs and tents to be set up.  You will truly enjoy the ability to grill up dinner while your children build sand castles close by.

Not only is Huguenot Park known for their shallow beaches you can camp on but you can also drive right on the beach.  On the eastern side of the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean side of Huguenot Park you can drive all around.  Just make sure that you have 4 wheel drive vehicle as some of the sand gets pretty soft and you don’t want to end up trying to dig yourself out.

There are pavilions you can rent for parties and guided beach walk tours.  Another popular activity to do in this park is fishing.  The area south of the Ft. George Inlet on the interior known as the lake is a great location to net finger mullet during those summer months.  The water is shallow at the edges that make it easier for people to catch fish by pole or by net.  Although you can’t camp in this area, you can park all day.  This area is also popular for windsurfers.

On the Atlantic side of the park, many locals say that you can spot pretty good waves for Florida, making it a great spot to surf.  It is especially appealing because you can drive right on the beach and surf not far from your car.

Tons of wildlife to spot, this park even has a nature center where you can find displays of plants and animals. Some of the fun animals you may find are raccoons, opossums and foxes and even more interesting is spotting endangered marine animals living right in these waters such as turtles, manatee and dolphins.  This park is environmentally sensitive Coastal Tidal Marshes and primary dune system.

During the summer months the bait shop and concessionaries are all open.  Two JSO police offers are always on duty, patrolling the park to keep it a safe place to take the family.  The only caution you need to take heed to is that there are no lifeguards on duty on the water.  So be safe and cautious of those high tides.

Huguenot Park Tidbits & Secrets

Huguenot Memorial park offers access to the Jetty Rocks, aka “Big Jetties” or “North Jetties” which are used to guide ships into the mouth of the St. John’s River.  This is a great place to watch the Mayport Naval Ships come and go.  It has also been said to be the best spot to catch fish.

Camping out on the beach in the summer may not be comfortable as there is no shade offered.  There are other shaded campsites offered, just not on the beach.  The best time to visit this park may be in the spring time as you get to enjoy the best weather that Florida has to offer.  Make sure you bring your own garbage bag as there are no receptacles located on the beach to throw out your trash.

Question of the day: what do YOU love most about a beach day? Share with us in the comments below!