The Real Treasure Island

February 15, 2019
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Once called “the back door to America,” Amelia Island’s hidden history is rich with pirate gold, lost galleons, and the dreams of colorful characters.  Discover the true story that is as incredible and entertaining as anything Hollywood could dream up.

Working in association with the Amelia Island Museum of History and the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island, Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau produced a short film building on the popular #LoveAmelia series, which spotlights experiences on this  hidden gem of a barrier island. “This island has more history than anywhere else in the United States” says Travis Cloyd, a 6th generation Amelia Islander.

Amelia Island’s natural deep-water harbor was very attractive to conquerors  Thea Seagraves, Education Director of the Amelia Island Museum of History, explains that the island itself was named for a British Princess, Amelia, daughter of King George II and that it is the only place in America to have been under “eight different flags- or you can even look at it as eight different sovereigns.”  

And those flags don’t even include the Jolly Roger.  According to Billy Taylor*, Director of The Maritime Museum of Amelia Island: “Amelia Island was just a hotspot for pirates including famous ones like Blackbeard...and pirates stayed close to their treasure.”

While pirates get most of the press, what many don’t know that, in the 1930’s, Ernest Hemmingway and many of the world’s wealthiest people flocked to Amelia Island on their yachts in search of treasure drawn by the stories of the writer T. Howard Kelly - who happens to be Travis Cloyd’s great grandfather.  These travelers, who could go anywhere in the world, thrilled to the experience of exploring this island by day and enjoying charms of its Victorian-era town by night.

The film uncovers another source of treasure beyond what was left behind by pirates and hints at the ongoing exploration that may very well someday bring ashore an astonishing find. Today’s visitors can not only comb the beaches but also enjoy rum and other spirits distilled on Amelia Island at Marlin and Barrel - which is located next door to the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island and its many artifacts - including one with great significance to treasure hunters of today. 

Ready for your own expedition?

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Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.