Encompassing the communities of Port Salerno, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Indiantown, Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Hutchinson Island, Martin County offers numerous Atlantic beaches spanning nearly 22 miles along the coast and including individual access strips that allow for more private spots to enjoy the surf and sand or larger, guard-protected areas like Stuart Beach, Hobe Sound Beach and Sea Turtle / Jensen Beach. There are also numerous beaches along the Indian River Lagoon such as the beach at Indian RiverSide Park, in addition to 75+ parks throughout the communities – not to mention the most bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern hemisphere, the St. Lucie Inlet, all within two hours or less driving time of four international airports: Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando. Florida’s hidden gem, this is a place for unwinding and reconnecting. Building restrictions have limited structures to four stories, preserving breathtaking views throughout the county, yielding Old Florida charm and accented with Key West style.
Conservation is king here, evident through individual community efforts like Stuart’s large oyster preserve and the St. Lucie Inlet, where the ecosystem provides habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including more than 30 threatened and endangered species such as manatees, wood storks, sand hill cranes and peregrine falcons. On Hutchinson Island, the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center offers opportunities for a family-friendly day of fun and learning.
At Blowing Rock Preserve, named for its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline – the largest on the U.S. Atlantic coast, get a glimpse of what South Florida barrier islands looked like a century ago. For a one-of-a-kind adventure, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, a coastal refuge bisected by the Indian River Lagoon into two separate tracts of land totaling over 1,000 acres on Jupiter Island, is home to the Hobe Sound Nature Center which offers both on and off-site native wildlife presentations and field experiences to local natural areas. Also on Hobe Sound, find Jonathan Dickinson State Park where the Loxahatchee River, Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park. Ranger-guided tours of the 1930’s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are available year-round.
Fishing for more? There’s a reason Martin County reigns supreme for sport fishing and holds the distinctive title of “Sailfish Capital of the World.” Boasting more than 20 marinas, a dozen fishing and sightseeing charters, plus a variety of bait and tackle shops, Martin County offers an abundance of boating and fishing excursions and the opportunity to pursue 800 species of fish within a 10-mile radius of the St. Lucie Inlet, which connects the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.
For water play that’s a little less rugged, Sailfish Splash Waterpark features two four-story water slides, a gentle and relaxing lazy river, an interactive water playground, and an Olympic-class competitive swim venue. Numerous charter boats are located throughout Martin County, providing full, half-day or custom charters. Take a sailing lesson at the U.S. Sailing Center of Martin County where options are available for beginners and pros. Or, catch one of the many regattas held here throughout the year, notably the Junior Olympic Festival, Laser Masters, 420 Midwinter Championships and OptiFest.
With over 75 parks, outdoor expeditions in Martin County are limitless. From October to May, “tromp the swamp” – free of charge – to observe the exclusive, natural beauty of the Barley Barber Swamp. All groups are accompanied by a tour guide along our 5,800 foot closed loop boardwalk. Snorkel at Bathtub Reef Beach where a manmade a reef extends into the ocean allowing visitors to venture out while remaining in a protective area. Kayak, hike, bike and go birding at Halpatiokee Regional Park or unwind at the pristine, and often deserted, beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park.
If you go, travel around Martin County in style and rent an environmentally-friendly electric Duffy boat or rent a scooter or bicycle to zoom around town.
Plan to visit during the annual Lionfish Derby
Saddle up and grab your fishing pole? That’s right! Plan to visit Martin County during the 6th Annual Lionfish Round-up. This event starts with a mandatory overview and briefing on May 29th and then the fun starts bright and early on the 30. Thousands gather to remove as many lionfish from the water as possible in a one-day tournament. Fish are measured and weighed and prizes are awarded. The non-native Indo-Pacific lionfish has no predators in the Atlantic ocean and is wreaking havoc on reefs by explosively reproducing and eating dangerously high numbers of important, native species such as juvenile grouper, snapper, parrotfish, grunts and crustaceans.