Martin County is known for its wide array of aquatic adventures and activities. From the mild to wild, there’s a water-based activity suited for every type of traveler. But with so many different options to choose from, it can be a challenge trying to narrow down the top picks, especially during a quick visit. So to help simplify the process, we’ve listed out some of the top spots where water-loving locals get in on the action – because after all, locals always know the best hidden gems…and now you do, too!
One of the best ways to enjoy the waters of Martin County is to see it from the deck of a standup paddleboard. There is a paddlecraft launching beach located on the Indian River Lagoon across the street from Chastain Beach off MacArthur Blvd. on south Hutchinson Island. Water clarity is best from the last three hours of the incoming tide to the first three hours of the outgoing tide. Paddlers can see snook, manatees, dolphins, mullet, lobster, queen conchs, stingrays and once in a while even a shark wandering around looking for an easy meal.
Snorkel from Shore
Bathtub Beach is famous for its easy-to-reach shallow water worm rock reef just off the beach. But lesser known is the Georges Valentine shipwreck just offshore of the southern end of the House of Refuge. Snorkelers can swim out about 100 yards to see the wood stringers of the ship sunk 100-plus years ago by a storm.
Martin County is fortunate to receive prevailing southeast winds for much of the year, especially in the afternoon. When the winds get above 15 mph, expect to see the windsurfing fleet take to the water along the south side of the Stuart Causeway. Easy access to the water is possible for those who wish to windsurf or kiteboard.
Catch a Pompano
Tiger Shores Beach is one of the easiest places to fish along the beach. A lightweight spinning rod with a small ¼-ounce jig is all one needs to catch a pompano with a few casts to the sand bar that parallels the beach here.
See a Dolphin
There are many places on Jensen Beach Causeway to watch the water either from the comfort of one’s car, or from benches and a pier. Families of dolphins can regularly be seen nearby. The adults teach the youngsters how to catch mullet and how to work as groups.
Spot a Manatee
Wintertime is the best time to try to see a manatee. During warmer months, the manatees are scattered and can seemingly be seen everywhere if you’re not looking for any, and nowhere if you would like to see one. There is a small bridge on Indian Street and Old St. Lucie Blvd. over Willoughby Creek. Often, when air temperatures are cool, manatees will gather in the shallow creek which has a dark bottom and absorbs warmth from the sunlight. Sometimes as many as 30 manatees will crowd in there, and there is often a crowd on onlookers at the bridge, too. Parking is limited and be careful crossing the street.
Catch a Stunning Sunset
There is a three-way tie for this honor. First, a short walk into the woods at Hawk’s Bluff nature trail, part of the Savannas State Preserve in Jensen Beach, will reward sunset seekers with a beautiful view of the rosy skies reflected on a quiet freshwater marsh framed by tall pine trees. Second, in downtown Stuart at the west end of West Ocean Blvd, Shepard Park has benches and a sidewalk on the east shoreline of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River to view the sundown across the river. Finally, a 40-minute drive down SR 76 to Port Mayaca on the shore of Lake Okeechobee is well worth it. Drive up onto the top of the Herbert Hoover Dike to see the sun as it sets over Florida’s largest lake.