Martin County is home to the most bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere. Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, The St. Lucie Inlet is also the most bio-diverse estuary in North America.
This unique ecosystem provides a habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including more than 30 threatened and endangered species like manatees, Florida scrub jay, wood storks, sandhill cranes, and peregrine falcons.
There’s something extraordinary about touching a stingray, seeing a sea turtle up close, and witnessing a feeding frenzy in a 750,000-gallon game fish lagoon. You’ll find all this and then some on a visit to the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. The facility features boasts learning with aquariums, nature trails, a butterfly garden, a children’s pavilion, a visitor center, a gift shop and more.
Open daily: Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm; Sun noon to 4pm, Admission: $12.00 for Adults, $6.00 for Children between 3-12 years.
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is a 1000-acre coastal refuge bisected by the Indian River Lagoon. Nature trails allow for hikes on estuaries, barrier islands, and the sand pine scrub. The sea turtle walk program is a summer favorite, and is held on warm nights from the end of May through mid July. Reservations are required.
At the Environmental Studies Center, students can explore the St. Lucie Estuary, Indian River Lagoon, Hutchinson Island beaches, mangrove swamps, and freshwater ponds and wetlands. The Center is home to a wide variety of marine life and other species, like a loggerhead sea turtle, gopher tortoises, a juvenile American alligator, freshwater turtles, saltwater aquariums, and a touch tank containing various marine organisms from the Indian River Lagoon. The center is open to the public during school hours, and tours are available.
Located just south of Stuart, this park teems with wildlife in 13 natural communities including sand pine, scrub pine, flatwoods, mangroves and river swamps. The Loxahatchee River—Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River—runs through the park. Ranger-guided tours of 1930s pioneer Trapper Nelson’s homestead are available year-round. You can also enjoy hiking, biking, boating, camping and freshwater fishing.
This magnificently restored sanctuary offers a rare window into Florida’s natural history, and is named for its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline—the largest on the U.S. Atlantic coast. A preservationist’s paradise, the restored preserve reflects what South Florida barrier islands looked like a century ago. At Blowing Rocks, visitors can glimpse one of the state’s rarest surviving landscapes: an intact Florida dune habitat with beach sunflower, bay cedar, sea grape, and sea oats.