Alimacani Inlet & The Kingsley Plantation
Some of the most unique features about the First Coast, is that there is always some hidden piece of recent and Pre-Columbian history associated with the area. On the north side and coastal portion of Jacksonville, there is an area that is as vast as the eye can see, known as the Timucuan National Preserve. Some historians even call it by the Native American name known as “Machaba Balu”. It encompasses a group of coastal sea islands, the St. Johns River delta,and many small and medium sized feeder creeks that empty into a vast estuary. It has also a distinct Native American history from the late Timucuan peoples, The first European settlement “Fort Caroline”, and the late Zephaniah Kingsley’s Indigo Plantation. There is also an enduring association with the Spanish Mission System, and the British influence of Fort King George , which was built in 1736, to protect the southern flank of the Georgia Colony to the near North. During the late 1700′s and early 1800′s, privateers like Black Beard, used the area to stage daring captures of Spanish Gold from the nearby passing of Galleons. The Pirates used the islands and winds to their advantage, to wreak havoc on the mercantile trade coming from the Caribbean and the colonies of the New World.
In more recent times including the present day, visitors to the preserve would expect to find more than five miles of pristine white sand beaches on the Atlantic side of Little Talbot Island. The Talbot Islands are some of the last and pristine few remaining barrier islands in North East Florida. There are Maritime Coastal Hammock forests, giant rolling dunes,and vast undisturbed salt marshes with hidden creeks and oyster flats. The area is well known for numerous fishing holes and tidal flats, and many species of migratory birds flock here season after season. The area is so vast, that one could easily get lost by simply taking a wrong turn. The specific fish targeted here, mostly consist of Red Drum, Croaker, Sea Trout, Flounder, and Sheepshead. Porpoise come to fish alongside Osprey, and Bobcats and Raccoons follow game trails almost in their own same footprints as they walk their daily forage.
The most unique aspect to our half day paddle trip would be the visit to the grounds of a once very profitable Indigo Plantation from the 18th century. Our trip winds through the fresh inflow of Ocean water from the Alimacani Inlet, up into the southeastern portion of the Timucuan Preserve and adjacent to the Talbot Islands. Low tides expose huge sandbars to explore, as well as oyster bars and mud flats that wading birds frequent. Higher tides afford a unique paddle through tall swaying marshes, with upland forests resting at the edge of primordial coastal forests. There is always a good sandbar to wade from to cool down on a hot summer morning. If you have never been to this area, it has a certain mystique and old world charm from days long passed by.