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Amelia and Cumberland Islands and the Okefenokee Swamp

Program Number: 11603RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/24/2013 - 3/29/2013; 2/14/2016 - 2/19/2016; 2/21/2016 - 2/26/2016; 3/6/2016 - 3/11/2016; 3/13/2016 - 3/18/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/8/2016; 4/10/2016 - 4/15/2016; 4/17/2016 - 4/22/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/7/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016; 10/23/2016 - 10/28/2016; 11/6/2016 - 11/11/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Fernandina Beach, Florida
Price starting at: $878.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Science & Nature; History & Culture; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Encounter vivid natural and human history on two beautiful islands and the amazing Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Hike the interior maritime forest of Amelia and Cumberland islands with a naturalist, boat into the Okefenokee Swamp and end your week with an Amelia River study cruise to view rare birds, dolphins and manatees.


• Discover the historic streets and architecture of Amelia Island with an expert who shares the story of a visionary who stirred neighbors to move their entire town.
• A soldier in period costume details the fascinating history of Fort Clinch, an important 1800s fortress for both Confederate and Union forces.
• Venture deep into the mysterious Okefenokee Swamp on a two-hour boat ride and 1.5-mile boardwalk exploration to experience black water lakes, pond cypress and the American alligator.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to four miles on Cumberland Island day hike; optional shorter hike. Okefenokee boat trip in a covered motorized boat with open sides.

Coordinated by Center for Educational Adventure.

Fernandina Beach

This is the largest town on beautiful Amelia Island, the southernmost of the Sea Islands that trail down the Carolina and Georgia coasts. The Victorian element of Fernandina Beach's 4,000-year history is on view in the 50-block historic district.

Spacious suites with full kitchen, swimming pool, five-minute walk to Atlantic Ocean.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Tom Murray

Tom Murray is a graduate of San Jose State University but is a Southerner by choice, having spent more than 45 years in the South absorbing the culture, customs and history of the region. Tom specializes in coastal history with an emphasis on the sea islands of Georgia. Few people know and love beautiful Cumberland and Amelia islands better than Tom. He has spent 25 years lecturing and leading Road Scholar groups to sites from the mountains to the sea.
Kevin McCarthy

Kevin grew up in Gloucester, Mass. and settled in Fernandina Beach in 1968. He spent 41 years sailing the waters of northeast Fla. and southeast Georgia. He holds a 100 ton master’s license and developed his knowledge of the wildlife and history exploring the waters that surround Amelia Island, Cumberland Island and St. Mary's, Ga. Generations of Kevin’s family have been shrimpers, and he shares with participants his knowledge of shrimp farming and the future of the shrimp industry in the U.S.
Lynn Wadley

Lynn Wadley is a folk performer who makes music come alive. A past Florida mountain dulcimer champion, she presents six types of rare instruments in a program filled with songs and stories. A self-taught musician, Lynn has delighted more than 200 Road Scholar groups over the past ten years. She has taught folk music classes at Jacksonville University, John Campbell Folk School, The Mountain in Highlands, NC and many other workshops.
Patrick Leary

Patrick Leary is a lifelong naturalist and birder who is committed to coastal bird conservation, and conducts surveys and monitors populations of shorebirds year round. He is a contributing member of the American Oystercatcher and Red Knot Working groups, and collaborates with researchers studying Piping Plovers on the continent and in the Bahamas. Pat contributed to Florida’s initial Breeding Bird Atlas and has co-authored a local bird guide.
Meals and Lodgings
   Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
  Fernandina Beach, Florida 5 nights
 Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Type: Hotel
  Description: Near Atlantic Ocean beach - three tenths of a mile - easy 5 minute walk Evening Reception Swimming Pool Pets Allowed-extra charge Kitchenette Interior Corridors Local restaurants within easy walking distance Barb que and/or picnic area
  Contact info: 2301 Sadler Road
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 USA
phone: 904-277-2440
  Room amenities: Alarm Clock, Coffee maker/tea service, individual climate control, iron and board Luxury bedding-crisp linens, thicker mattresses, custom comforters, fluffier pillows Pillows: down/feather Pillows: foam Pull-out sofa bed Roll away bed
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool Non-smoking High-Speed Internet Pets Allowed Kitchenette Fitness Facility All-Suites Property Dry Cleaning/Laundry Meeting Rooms Interior Corridors
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for seasonal rate. Participants responsible for making additional nights reservations.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call for seasonal rate. Participants responsible for making additional nights reservations.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check-in begins at 4 p.m. in the lobby.Road Scholar check-in is at 5:00 pm in the conference room followed by orientation. You will be staying at Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island that night.
  End of Program:
Morning presentation ends by 10:30 a.m. Hotel check-out at 12 Noon. You will be staying at Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free for length of the program at the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fernandina Beach, Florida
  Nearest city or town:  Jacksonville, FL
  Nearest highway: Hwy A1A
  Nearest airport:  Jacksonville International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Fernandina Beach, Florida
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

To Fernandina Beach from Jacksonville, FL


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Amelia Transportation
phone: 904-753-6480
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$47 flat rate up to 6 people, gratuity not included
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30 minutes 




30 miles


Advance reservations are required and may be made by going to:


Jacksonville, FL to Fernandina Beach, FL


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
GO Airport Shuttle
phone: 904-353-8880
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$35 for 1-3 people, $8 for each additional person. Return trip to airport is a $55 flat rate.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


35 - 40 minutes 




25 - 30 miles


Call for most recent pricing. 5320 Springfield Blvd Jacksonville, FL

Driving Directions
  To Residence Marriott at Amelia Island - South to North on I-95 Take Exit 373, Callahan/Fernandina Exit. Take SR200 E/SR A1A toward Yulee/Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach. After the Shave Bridge, turn right at the 2nd traffic light onto Sadler Road/CR-108. Hotel will be located on your left - approximately 1.5 miles.
  To Residence Marriott at Amelia Island -North to South on I-95 Take Exit 380, US-17 South toward Yulee. Turn left onto US-17/FL-5S. Take SR200 E/SR A1A toward Yulee/Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach. After the Shave Bridge, turn right at the 2nd traffic light onto Sadler Road/CR-108. Hotel will be located on your left - approximately 1.5 miles.
Equipment Requirements: No special equipment is required. Binoculars are handy for birding on Cumberland Island and in the Okefenokee Swamp but are not required.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival, Registration, and Orientation
(Sunday, March 24)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK IN: You may check in beginning at 4:00pm. PROGRAM REGISTRATION: Please register with the Road Scholar program staff at our desk in the conference room beginning at 5:00pm. You?ll receive your arrival packet containing the most up-to-date schedule and program information that we?ll review during our orientation session at 5:00 pm. ORIENTATION: You'll have an informative overview of the program to come plus an opportunity to meet the program staff and your fellow participants during an introductory get-acquainted session. We?ll review the updated schedule, answer any questions you may have, and cover responsibilities, safety guidelines, and emergency procedures. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of any changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding!
 Dinner: 6:00 PM Buffet style dinner. Catered meal in hotel meeting room.
 Evening: 7:00 PM History of Fernandina - Hear from an expert historian about the 8 flags of Fernandina. The area was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indian tribe. Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags", it has had the following flags flown over it since 1562: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States. It is the only municipality in the United States that has flown eight different national flags.
Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Field Trip to Cumberland Island/Continue Cumberland Excursion/Free Evening
(Monday, March 25)
 Breakfast: Hot breakfast buffet served daily with fresh fruit, eggs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, danish, bacon or sausage.
 Morning: In preparation for our trip to Cumberland Island, we will sit back and relax and watch a breathtaking video of this beautiful and enchanting Island. We will then be driven by coach to St. Mary's. After arriving, we will take a 45 minute ferry ride to Cumberland Island, the state's southernmost and largest barrier island. This unique wildlife haven and site of the ruins of the Dungeness Mansion will be part of your field trip. Your guide will lead you on a slow 4 mile easy walking field trip of the southern most region of Cumberland Island. For those who do not want to go the 4 mile distance, you may opt to take the short hike of 2 miles. You may see a wide variety of habitats including salt-water marshes, mud flats, tidal creeks, maritime oak forests, large sand dunes, inter-dune meadows, and expansive pristine beaches just to name a few. Take an extra water bottle and any snacks you may want. We provide a sack lunch with a bottle of water.
 Lunch: You'll enjoy your lunch on the ferry as you travel to Cumberland Island. It is about a 45 minute ferry ride and you may see dolphins and other wildlife on the way.
 Afternoon: Continue Cumberland Island field trip. The afternoon ferry leaves at 4:45 pm for St. Marys dock. Your motor coach will be waiting for you for your return trip to Fernandina. Arrival in Fernandina is usually around 5:45 pm.
 Dinner: A catered meal will be in the meeting room of the hotel.
 Evening: Due to a long day on Cumberland Island, participants may rest or get suggestions from coordinator for local activities.
Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Amelia Island Field Trip/Fort Clinch/Island Ecology
(Tuesday, March 26)
 Breakfast: Full American breakfast served in the lobby area.
 Morning: Today will be a day of fascination and historical adventure. We will explore the downtown historic district. You will be greeted by an historian who will begin by giving a brief history of Amelia Island. Hear the story of the visionary whose exhilarating dream so stirred his neighbors that they agreed to move their entire town to the site of a plantation he owned, creating "New" Fernandina in the 1850’s. From the "giant" Timucua Native Americans, to Spanish and French explorers, to the lawless spirit of pirates, to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents, Amelia Island has been home to diverse cultures that have left a truly exciting heritage. Expect the rare privilege of observing the uniquely gracious and historic homes of another century. Allow yourself to get in touch with efforts to preserve the nearly extinct, pristine architectural styles within a small, gifted American town struggling to retain its fragile sense of family and community as well as its birthright and historical integrity.
 Lunch: Relax and enjoy lunch at Café Karibo located inside a charming historic building, in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. An eclectic palette of colors and furnishings and a large garden patio shaded by huge oak trees invites you to a fun and unique culinary experience.
 Afternoon: Fort Clinch State Park is a 1,086 acre outpost of pristine beaches and dunes, nature trails, ponds and salt marshes and the island's only campgrounds. Fort Clinch, named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, an important figure in Florida's Seminole War of the 1830's who also fought in the War of l812, is one in a system of permanent coastal fortifications. Construction began in 1847 and was occupied briefly by the Confederate forces until being overrun by the Union troops. It has been meticulously preserved and will give you the feeling of life as it was over 150 years ago. A period, uniformed re-enactor will take you back in time as he leads your field trip. Reliving your ancestors life in this old fort is an incredible, historic adventure! Close your eyes for a moment and you can almost hear the roar of the cannons!
 Dinner: Held in hotel meeting room.
 Evening: Presentation on island ecology in hotel meeting room.
Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Amelia Island River Cruise/Free Afternoon and Evening
(Wednesday, March 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in lobby area.
 Morning: Explore as you cruise the backwaters of Amelia Island and Cumberland Island and enjoy the spectacular views. Watch for rare birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife as you glide back in time along the rivers, creeks and marshes that surround Amelia Island.The boat is covered and may be closed to protect guests against inclement weather.
 Lunch: After our scenic and informative cruise, lunch will be at a local waterfront restaurant. When lunch is over, enjoy your free afternoon on Amelia Island.
 Afternoon: Time on your own, spend the afternoon at the beach, the Amelia Island Museum, historic village, read a book at the beach, or just take a nap. Your hotel is located three tenths of a mile from the beach - a 3-5 minute walk.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own to enjoy local cuisine or a complimentary hamburger/hot dog cookout provided by the Marriott Residence Inn. Coordinator will be happy to make suggestions for dinner for local restaurants. The Marriott van is available for shuttle to local points of interests including restaurants, etc. There are two good restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
 Evening: Free evening.
Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Okefenokee Swamp Field Trip/Musical Entertainment
(Thursday, March 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in lobby area.
 Morning: Note: Approximately 500 square miles of the Okefenokee Swamp burned in 2011. Our Road Scholar field trips to the Okefenokee learn about the benefits of fire to the swamp. Lack of fire threatens the healthy diversity of forests and wildlife habitat, and leads to a buildup of vegetative fuels in the forest's understory. Swamp fire is beneficial for forest health and wildlife habitat, as well as for public safety through the reduction in frequency and severity of wildfires. A naturalist will lead a field trip to one of America's most famous national wildlife refuges. The Okefenokee Swamp has been officially designated as a "Wetland of International Importance" but that doesn't begin to describe its incomparable beauty or the complex web of life that exists. Rich in history, "swamp culture", flora, and fauna, this one-of-a-kind giant peat bog contains uplands and islands covered in pine & oak forests; black-water lakes of varying sizes; and interior freshwater marshes (locally called "prairies) dotted with floating mats of "botanical gardens" interspersed among stands of pond cypress, black gum, mixed-bay trees, and shrubs. The Okefenokee also provides significant wilderness habitat for large populations of Florida black bear and American alligator. Boat ride is approx. 1.5 hours into the swamp.
 Lunch: Enjoy a hamburger cookout at the swamp with homemade peach cobbler and ice cream for dessert.
 Afternoon: Take a drive along Swamp Island Drive and explore the19th to early 20th century farmhouse located deep in the swamp that was home to a family that lived in the swamp for several generations. Its ability to survive the wet swamp conditions serves as a reminder of the swampers who once lived there. They were able to save the Chesser Homestead from the fire of 2011.
 Dinner: Located in hotel meeting room.
 Evening: Enjoy the music of a multi talented person from Jacksonville, FL. who sings and plays numerous musical instruments.
Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Speaker/The Shrimping Industry
(Friday, March 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel lobby area.
 Morning: A local expert on the shrimping industry will speak about what is going on in the world of shrimping. He comes from a family of shrimpers and you'll be surprised to learn what is happening as shrimpers try to make a living.
 Lunch: The program ends after the morning lecture around 10:30 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses

Author: Charles Seabrook

Description: In Cumberland Island, Charles Seabrook uses his talent as an award-winning environmental writer to describe the island's natural bounty and to tell its long and intriguing history. You'll meet Catherine "Caty" Greene Miller, the widow of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene and the woman who inspired Eli Whitney to invent the cotton gin. She was also the inspiration behind Dungeness, the 30-room tabby mansion built on Cumberland Island in 1803. Another strong woman who currently resides on the island is Carol Ruckdeschel, a naturalist who was the subject of a John McPhee profile in the New Yorker in 1974. GoGo Ferguson and Carol were great friends until they disagreed on the future of the island. Their ensuing feud reveals the continuing debate among residents, conservationists, and developers about how the island should be managed. In Cumberland Island, Charles Seabrook provides a fascinating look into the history of one of America's greatest natural treasures.

Cumberland Island: A History

Author: Mary R. Bullard

Description: Cumberland Island is a national treasure. The largest of the Sea Islands along the Georgia coast, it is a history-filled place of astounding natural beauty. With a thoroughness unmatched by any previous account, Cumberland Island: A History chronicles five centuries of change to the landscape and its people from the days of the first Native Americans through the late-twentieth-century struggles between developers and conservationists. Author Mary Bullard, widely regarded as the person most knowledgeable about Cumberland Island, is a descendant of the Carnegie family, Cumberland's last owners before it was acquired by the federal government in 1972 and designated a National Seashore. Bullard's discussion of the Carnegie era on Cumberland is notable for its intimate glimpse into how the family's feelings toward the island bore upon Cumberland's destiny.

Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp

Author: Megan Kate Nelson

Description: This innovative history of the Okefenokee Swamp reveals it as a place where harsh realities clashed with optimism, shaping the borderland culture of southern Georgia and northern Florida for over two hundred years. From the formation of the Georgia colony in 1732 to the end of the Great Depression, the Okefenokee Swamp was a site of conflict between divergent local communities. Coining the term “ecolocalism” to describe how local cultures form out of ecosystems and in relation to other communities, Megan Kate Nelson offers a new view of the Okefenokee, its inhabitants, and its rich and telling record of thwarted ambitions, unintended consequences, and unresolved questions. The Okefenokee is simultaneously terrestrial and aquatic, beautiful and terrifying, fertile and barren. This peculiar ecology created discord as human groups attempted to overlay firm lines of race, gender, and class on an area of inherent ambiguity and blurred margins. Rice planters, slaves, fugitive slaves, Seminoles, surveyors, timber barons, Swampers, and scientists came to the swamp with dreams of wealth, freedom, and status that conflicted in varied and complex ways. Ecolocalism emerged out of these conflicts between communities within the Okefenokee and other borderland swamps. Nelson narrates the fluctuations, disconnections, and confrontations embedded in the muck of the swamp and the mire of its disorderly history, and she reminds us that it is out of such places of intermingling and uncertainty that cultures are forged.

Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach

Author: Ron Kurtz

Description: Eight flag history with contemporary photographs/Adult....Older children can benefit from the photography and the story

Ghosts of Amelia Island and Other Tales

Author: Maggie Carter-de Vries

Description: Adults and Children

Images of Amelia Island

Author: Rob Hicks in association with the Amelia island Museum of History

Description: Light text with historic photographs, many from the Museum's collection/ Adult...Older children can benefit from the photography

The Golden Age of Amelia Island, Revised

Author: Suzanne Davis Hardee and Kathleen Davis Hardee Arsenault

Description: Late 19th Century history/Adult

Yesterday's Reflections II, Nassau County Florida

Author: Jan H. Johannes, Sr

Description: County history with historic photographs/ Adult

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