Indian River County in Southeast Florida exudes a wonderful calm with its bright sunshine and wonderfully warm temperatures
In a rather small area, three important ecosystems come together here: the Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Cypress Marsh and the Indian River Lagoon, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the U.S. This unique combination promises a dream vacation with lots of undisturbed nature in an area where you can still experience relaxed Old Florida charm.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park borders the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian River Lagoon on the other. The shallow waters of the lagoon, where saltwater and fresh water mix, are home to countless fish species, dolphins, manatees and birds – a perfect place for an extended kayak trip. On the Atlantic side, the park offers 5 kilometers of sandy beaches, great for swimming, surfing and collecting seashells. This area is also one of the best fishing spots on the East Coast. Walk along one of the park’s many trails, past untouched nature, and stop for a picnic before continuing on past the campground to the lagoon. Here, you can rent a kayak and continue your tour along the calm waters of the lagoon.
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
Nearby, I visit another fascinating piece of natural paradise: Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, opened by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 as the first national wildlife refuge in the U.S. Surrounding Pelican Island, the refuge is one of the most beautiful birding spots in the U.S. You can find birds, fish, dolphins and manatees all year ‘round. One of the best ways to explore this gem is from the water, so I rent a kayak and paddle close to a pelican nesting area. At different times of year, you can see wood storks and great blue herons as well. Back in the visitors’ center, I take a look at the active nesting sites through binoculars before walking along the trails, which wander through an interesting variety of native plants.
Airboat Tour Through Blue Cypress Marsh
A little tired from all my paddling, I decide to drive to nearby Blue Cypress Marsh and take an airboat tour of the area where Indian River County borders the unique ecosystem of the Everglades. At a rapid speed, we zip past mangroves and effortlessly explore vast areas covered with sea grass. We stop several times to take a close look at alligators basking in the sun while our captain shares interesting information about the nature in this region.
McKee Botanical Garden
Toward the end of my journey, I visit McKee Botanical Garden, an oasis full of exotic plants with a truly magical atmosphere. Here I walk past ponds and enjoy the unique stillness and the feeling of nature that is so special in the area around Indian River County.
Indian River County is a jewel on Florida's East Coast that fascinates me with its undisturbed nature and diversity of fauna and flora. I´m already looking forward to my next visit!