11603
Fernandina Beach
Amelia and Cumberland Islands and the Okefenokee Swamp
Alongside naturalists, discover the idyllic landscapes and unique wildlife of the Cumberland Islands and Okefenokee Swamp. Plus, visit historic towns and learn about Civil War history.
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 11603RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
949
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Area History
Fernandina Beach, Florida
D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the conference room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll enjoy a catered buffet meal.

Evening: Hear from an expert historian about the 8 flags of Fernandina. First populated by the Timucuan Indian tribe, the area eventually became known as the “Isle of 8 Flags” because, since 1562, it has had the flags of 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 flying over it at one point or another.

DAY
2
Cumberland Island Full Day Field Trip
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: All-terrain, non-motorized beach wheelchairs are available upon request at either dock. Most locations and activities during the day are wheelchair accessible. Walking about 4 miles on easy terrain and sand. If you wish, you may choose to take the shorter 2 mile hike instead. Getting on/off a boat; the ride is about 1 hour. Be sure to bring a water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast buffet served daily with fresh fruit, eggs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, baked goods and breakfast meats with coffee, tea and water.

Morning: In preparation for our trip to Cumberland Island, we will sit back, relax and watch a breathtaking video introducing us to this beautiful and enchanting Island. We will then transfer via motorcoach to St. Mary's where we will board the ferry for the ride to Cumberland Island, the state's southernmost and largest barrier island. We may even see dolphins and other wildlife on the way! Upon arrival, we will set out on a hike through this unique wildlife haven and to the ruins of the Dungeness Mansion. On our walk in the southern area of the island, we will 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.

Lunch: On the ferry, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Continue Cumberland Island field trip. We’ll board the ferry later in the afternoon for our return trip to Fernandina via St. Mary’s dock.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Amelia Island, Fort Clinch, Island Ecology
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today will be a day of fascination and historical adventure. We will explore the downtown historic district after being greeted by an historian who will begin by giving a brief history of Amelia Island and sharing 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, thereby 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: At Café Karibo, located inside a charming historic downtown building, we’ll enjoy a delicious meal. An eclectic palette of colors, furnishings and a large garden patio shaded by huge oak trees will invite us 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. 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, the fort is one in a system of permanent coastal fortifications. Construction began in 1847 and was occupied briefly by the Confederate forces while it was still being built until it was eventually overrun by the Union troops. It has been meticulously preserved and will provide us with a glimpse as to what life was like over 150 years ago. While here, a re-enactor dressed in period uniform will take us back in time on a field trip around the fort while vividly describing what our ancestors may have experienced here. Close your eyes for a moment and you can almost hear the roar of the cannons!

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Presentation on island ecology in hotel meeting room.

DAY
4
Amelia Island River Cruise, Free Time
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; vessel is wheelchair accessible; the boat is covered and may be closed to protect guests against inclement weather.

Breakfast: In lobby area.

Morning: As we cruise the backwaters of Amelia Island and Cumberland Island, enjoy the spectacular views while watching for rare birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife. We’ll glide back in time along the rivers, creeks and marshes that surround Amelia Island.

Lunch: On the riverfront at Brett's Waterway Café, we’ll enjoy a meal featuring local specialties.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to venture to the Amelia Island Museum, the historic village, or just relax on the beach.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Okefenokee Swamp, Musical Entertainment
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; the ride is approximately 1.5 hours into the swamp; vessel is wheelchair accessible.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Officially identified as a “Wetland of International Importance,” the Okefenokee Swamp is composed of a wealth of various habitats including a multitude of black-water lakes, pine & oak forests, and freshwater marshes (locally called “prairies”) with floating flowering islands amid flooded lowlands covered by cypress, black gum, and shrubs. This enormous peat bog is host to a lively human history of “swamp culture” as well as to an infinitely beautiful and complex ecosystem of flora and fauna with perhaps the most notable residents of which being Florida black bears and American alligators. A naturalist will lead our field trip in Okefenokee, one of America's most famous national wildlife refuges, focusing especially on the roughly 500 square miles of the swamp that burned in 2011. We will learn about the benefits of fire to the swamp ecosystem and how the lack of fire threatens the healthy diversity of forests and wildlife habitat leading to a buildup of vegetative fuels in the forest's understory. Not only is swamp fire is beneficial to forest health and wildlife habitats, it is also favorable in terms of public safety through the reduction in frequency and severity of wildfires.

Lunch: In the swamp, we’ll have a tasty cookout lunch complete with a favorite local dessert.

Afternoon: We’ll then take a drive along Swamp Island Drive to explore the19th to early 20th century farmhouse located deep in the swamp that was home to a family for several generations. Fortunately, the property was saved from the fire of 2011 and has survived the constantly wet conditions of the environment, thereby sustaining the legacy of the “swampers” who once lived there.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Enjoy the music of a multi-talented person from Jacksonville, FL, who sings and plays numerous musical instruments. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
6
Shrimping Industry, Program Concludes
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local expert on shrimping will join us and speak about what is currently happening in the world of the industry. He comes from a family of shrimpers and will share some of the often surprising goings-on regarding how shrimpers make a living. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!