Perched at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on Florida’s east coast, the Treasure Coast is a vacation playground full of natural beauty that invites exploration.
Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties, which together make up the Treasure Coast, welcome visitors to enjoy unspoiled landscapes year-round. Kayak and fish in fabulous parks and preserves, wander gorgeous beaches and learn more about local flora and fauna at eco-friendly attractions.
Parks and Nature Preserves
Locals and visitors alike flock to the area’s plentiful parks. Sebastian Inlet State Park (located across the Indian River from the town of Sebastian) is a surfing haven that flanks the inlet – “First Peak” and “Monster Hole” draw surfers from around the globe. Drop a line for pompano and Spanish mackerel from the two jetties that extend into the Atlantic Ocean. Families enjoy spending hours shelling, swimming and snorkeling in the park.
North of Vero Beach, kayak in the Indian River Lagoon – one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the northern hemisphere – and watch for dolphins, manatees and roseate spoonbills. Seaplane tours offer incomparable views from on high.
Blowing Rocks Preserve in Hobe Sound gets its name from a thrilling phenomenon – at high tide, saltwater shoots up through narrow gaps in the limestone. Be sure to check out pristine beach dunes, mangrove swamps and oak hammocks along this rocky shoreline.
Saltwater fishing is the most popular activity at Jetty Park in Fort Pierce, where the Indian River Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean, but picnicking in the shade of a pavilion and taking in panoramic views of the inlet and ocean can’t be beat. Restaurants and shops are a short stroll away.
The gorgeous blue waters and secluded beaches of Sebastian Inlet State Park
Stretching nearly 40 kilometers, Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce is actually two barrier islands – North and South Hutchinson Islands, separated by the Fort Pierce Inlet. These long stretches of pristine sand and rolling dunes are home to numerous beaches, each with its own personality, including Blind Creek Beach (for those who prefer a clothing-optional beach), Dollman Beach (a family-friendly beach with lifeguards) and dozens more. On South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce, a long stretch of undeveloped coastline offers dozens of public access points and parking. Beachgoers will love these uncrowded beaches with little residential or commercial development. At Frederick Douglass Memorial Park, visitors will find the only beach in southeast Florida that allows horseback riding along the coastline. Guided tours are available.
Vero Beach has a wide range of beaches, which sit across the Indian River Lagoon from the mainland. Lifeguards keep an eye on surfers and swimmers at the public Tracking Station Beachfront Park. Owned by entertainer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio, the Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa offers high-end accommodations, dining and spa treatments, all with sweeping views of vast beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.
At Martin County’s Jensen Beach, Stuart Beach, Bathtub Reef Beach or Hobe Sound Beach, visitors can choose activities based on their energy levels – lounge on the sand or go snorkeling or scuba diving on nearshore wrecks. The Jensen Beach Causeway offers dramatic views to runners and walkers as they log steps crossing the Intracoastal Waterway.
An array of seashells lining the shore on Hutchinson Island in Stuart
Set on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is a 23-hectare educational preserve featuring nature trails, an expansive lagoon filled with sharks and other fish, and saltwater tanks for injured sea turtles. During twice-daily programs, visitors can watch stingrays and gamefish being fed and learn more about the sea turtles that nest on these shores.
The 90-hectare Oxbow Eco-Center – a nature preserve located on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River in Port St. Lucie – features observation towers, boardwalks and well-marked trails that meander through the forest and along the river. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises, otters, armadillos and other wildlife.
Boardwalk overlooking the St. Lucie River at the Oxbow Eco-Center
Fly into Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), Miami International Airport (MIA) or Orlando International Airport (MCO) and rent a car to explore the Treasure Coast. You can also catch a connecting flight into Vero Beach Regional Airport (VRB).