Island Insider: Director of Tennis, Sal Barbaro

May 8, 2018
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Q:  What makes you an Island Insider?

A:  I fell in love with the island after my first visit in the spring of 2012 and relocated from Texas to Amelia Island that August. The Omni Resort was about to open after the re-imagination and I saw amazing potential to help build a superb tennis experience to compliment the resort. As Director of Tennis for the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, I manage the tennis program including 23 Har-tru courts where we offer tennis lessons, clinics, matches, and mixers. We’ve built a wonderful community of tennis players, made of both locals and visitors, and there’s no better place to play than on this beautiful island.

Q:  What are your favorite things to do on Amelia Island for…

A:  Obviously my favorite thing to do on Amelia Island is play tennis, but I love just walking around downtown Fernandina. This island is naturally beautiful, and downtown is full of charm that you don’t find in a lot of bigger cities. Amelia Island is just such a beautiful place.

  • A friend being in town for the weekend?  I always take my friends to the beach. Amelia Island’s beaches can change someone’s perspective on what a Florida beach is like. Here our beach is big and secluded, it’s a nice change to the small, crowded beaches people may be used to in other places. I also like to show people around Amelia Island Plantation to see the houses under our tree canopy and of course you must take guests downtown. There are not many places that have a downtown as charming as Fernandina, it’s unique to the south. I always stop at The Green Turtle for live music and cold beer.

  • Date night?  The perfect date night is dinner at Espana! It’s a great restaurant with amazing food and the owner, Roberto, always comes by to say hello. The Decantery is a great stop for a nightcap after dinner.
  • A day off, just for you?  I spend my days off just like a visitor would! I like to take a run on the beach in the morning and then sit in the sun and read a good book.

Q:  What makes Amelia Island #EverSoSlightlySpecial?

A:  I’ve lived in cities from Chicago, Long Island, and San Antonio, but I love that Amelia Island is little off the beaten path but still close enough to Jacksonville or St. Augustine for city needs. This island offers something for everyone. If you want to be active you can play tennis or ride a bike. Or if you want nightlife, you can enjoy island life downtown.  Amelia Island offers a little bit of everything for everyone! For me, Amelia Island is Ever So Slightly Southern!

Check out Sal's "insider tips":

  • Favorite breakfast spot – Parkway Grill or Marche Burette
  • Favorite lunch spot – Bar Zin
  • Favorite dinner spot- 29 South or Espana.  I also love the Salty Pelican for more casual pub food and sports (Go Spurs)
  • Favorite beach – I love the Scott Rd. access on the south end
  • Live Music - Green Turtle Tavern 
  • Top two special events (one cool weather, one hot weather)  Shrimp Festival and Amelia Concours Week

Q:  Why is Amelia Island a great place for tennis?

A:  The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is great for tennis because our clay courts are so well maintained, and the tennis program is integrated into everything. We have a strong local membership where visitors get to interact with the locals, getting a real taste of the island life. We have great people and staff who truly love the island and the sport of tennis.


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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.