Just north of Fernandina Beach, Florida, some 160 wild horses roam freely on Cumberland Island, Georgia. But down on Amelia Island, a much different kind of breed awaits. Well-trained and meticulously groomed American Quarter horses stand saddled up and ready to take visitors on the ride of their lives.
If horseback riding on the beach isn't on your bucket list, then it should be. There are few things more exhilarating than splashing into the ocean on the back of a horse. While on your ride, you’re likely to spot birds and dolphins while soaking in the amazing scenery of the coast. Amelia Island Horseback Riding and Kelly Seahorse Ranch provide this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Amelia Island Horseback Riding is run by industry veteran Debbie Manser. "I have been doing this for the last 20-plus years, and it's such an amazing experience to offer our visitors," she says. "And I can't recommend our wonderful guides, Chelsie and Cassy, enough." Debbie and her team trailer their horses to Peters Point Beach Front Park where adults and children age 6 and up can take a one-hour ride on the beach and even into the Atlantic Ocean. Rides are $90 per person for 1 hour, and sunrise and moonlight rides are $150.
Kelly Seahorse Ranch is one of the few outfitters in the country with a barn-to-beach riding experience. Endorsed by the park service, its facilities are located within Amelia Island State Park, at the southern end of the island off AIA. A short trail from the ranch leads riders over sand dunes and onto miles of unspoiled Atlantic Ocean beaches. One-hour guided beach rides leave at 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 4 pm. Prices are $70 per person, and riders must be at least 13 years old.