By James Waterson
If you're like most people, the first hint of summer has you daydreaming of sunny afternoons spent on warm sandy beaches. While it's true that you can find beaches just about anywhere, no place is quite like Martin County, Florida. Nestled in Florida's Treasure Coast, Martin County has miles of pristine beaches ideal for swimming and surfing.
Yet there's much more than sand and surf here. The county is made up of one-of-a-kind towns full of fascinating art galleries and studios, restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, and other sights to see for beach goers of all ages. Add in some truly world-class fishing and all sorts of other amazing things to discover and you've got the makings of your best summer ever. Find out more by checking out our seven reasons you should visit Martin County this summer.
All of the Soft, Sandy Beaches
Feel the warm sand embrace your feet, take a deep breath of a sweet ocean breeze, and take in the view of the gently rolling turquoise tides of the Atlantic Ocean as it melds with a bright blue sky on the horizon. With miles and miles of pristine beaches and natural sand dunes, Martin County is a fantastic place to visit if you're looking to get away to the beach. The county is home to four beaches with life guards (Jensen, Stuart, Bathtub, and Hobe Sound) that serve up all the sun bathing, swimming, and shoreline fishing you could ever ask for.
Yet these are just four of a multitude of beaches you can escape to, some of which are unlike anything else you've seen before. Admire the magnificent rocky shoreline of Blowing Rocks Preserve, home to the Anastasia limestone shoreline that is the longest on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Swim, snorkel, or scuba dive, then hike the three nature trails to get a taste of Florida's wild side. Is peace and quiet what you seek? Unfurl your beach towel at Ross Witham Beach, a small locale tucked into a cove located 100 yards away from the Georges Valentine Underwater Archaeological Preserve Shipwreck Dive Site.
Needless to say, if the beach is calling your name, you'll be spoiled for choice in Martin County.
Unique Coastal Towns Full of Unexpected Treasures
Martin County sits in the heart of Florida's Treasure Coast, so called because of a Spanish treasure fleet that sunk near here in 1715. While you're unlikely to find priceless doubloons along the county's scenic shores, that doesn't mean there isn't an abundance of things to discover in the county's many unique towns.
You'll likely start in Stuart, Martin County's largest city and Coastal Living Magazine's “America's Happiest Seaside Town” in 2016. Explore the funky art galleries, working studios, and locally owned shops and restaurants in Historic Downtown Stuart, snap a photo of the 250-foot mural called Catch the Wave of Hope, and stick around for live music and an enticing selection of craft beer and wine at Terra Fermata.
Of course, you'll find inspiring art and culture throughout Martin County. On every Thursday evening, visit Jensen Beach for Jammin' Jensen, when you'll browse art made by local artists and listen to live music. Then check out the 23 (and counting) large-scale murals in Hobe Sound and the galleries and studios in Port Salerno, a quaint fishing village just south of Stuart.
Whether you're relaxing on the beach, surfing, or exploring Martin County's coastal communities, you'll probably work up one heck of an appetite. Take your pick of everything from the traditional seafood standbys to the flavors of the Caribbean and beyond in restaurants ranging from casual to extravagant. As you can tell, there are many things to discover in Martin County, and the best way to experience it is to explore it for yourself.
You Can See Nesting Sea Turtles
Watching a massive sea turtle digging her nest is unforgettable, and that's exactly what you can do at the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Settled within the refuge is the Hobe Sound Nature Center, which offers nighttime sea turtle walks from late May through the end of June. Reserve your spot and you'll get the chance to see a loggerhead sea turtle, a rare site in the continental United States as Florida is the only place they nest. If this inspires you to get outdoors when the sun rises, visit the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Paddle down the country's first designated Wild and Scenic River, the Loxahatchee River, and meander along trails that wind through some of the 10,500-acre park.
Yoga. On a Stand-Up Paddleboard
Yes, you read that right. Show off your best downward dog as you float on the calm waters of the St. Lucie River under a luminous Florida sunset. Take a second to breathe deep and you’ll probably think it doesn’t get any better than this. Have this experience for yourself at the yoga class offered by Zeke’s Surf, Skate & Paddle Sports on nearly every Thursday from April through September. If you don’t have any paddle boarding experience, you can still join in on terra firma. For more yoga, take a class at The Dirty Hippie in Stuart or right on the beach with The Ohana Bus. Needless to say, when you feel the need to find your center, Martin County is the place to be.
The Best of Both Fresh and Saltwater Fishing
As tempting as the turquoise waters of the Atlantic are to swim and surf in, they also provide some of the best fishing in Florida. After all, Stuart is known as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” for a reason. Martin County has 100 artificial reef systems that are home to more than 800 species of fish, as well as the most biodiverse estuary—where the St. Lucie River meets the Atlantic Ocean—in the world. What does that mean for you? An endless amount of world-class fresh and saltwater fishing. King and Spanish mackerel, snapper, blue and white marlin, and even swordfish are there for the taking when you charter a deep-sea fishing trip. You can cast your line at many of Martin County's beaches as well, or head inshore to catch bass and trout in Lake Okeechobee and the Indian River.
Discover more about fishing in Martin County here.
Staying Here Won't Break the Bank
When it's time to rest and relax after your day exploring Martin County, you'll find a remarkable range of affordable places to stay. If you're traveling with your sweetheart, consider booking one of the charming bed and breakfasts in Historic Downtown Stuart or Jensen Beach. To bring all of the county's coastal charm into your home away from home, book a stay at a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel like the Old Colorado Inn or the nostalgic Seminole Inn. Of course, you'll also find a plethora of condos and rental homes large and small here, as well beachfront resorts on Hutchinson Island that offer on-site dining and activities. With so many options, you can have the getaway you want in Florida's Treasure Coast.
There's Plenty to Do When You Need Some A/C
As much as we may all crave the summer sun, everyone needs a break every once in a while. Fortunately, Martin County is full of fascinating attractions away from the beach where you can soak up the air conditioning and learn a thing or two. Start at The Elliot Museum in Hutchinson Island, where you can check out a collection of vintage automobiles and boats and hear the many stories of the Treasure Coast.
Then let the tides take you to the Stuart Heritage Museum, located within the oldest commercial building in the county. Here the county's fascinating, and sometimes unusual, history is preserved through an array of collections and exhibits. There's also the Road to Victory Military Museum, where you can see military vehicles and World War II battle reenactments; the Court House Cultural Center & Gallery; and the Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast.
Start planning your next summer beach vacation by visiting Martin County's website.