This post is sponsored by Discover Martin.
I recently took a day trip to Martin County Florida, a lesser-known Florida travel destination located on the Atlantic Coast of Florida between Orlando and Miami. With 77 parks, some of the most unique beaches not found anywhere else in the state, and easy access from I-95, this is definitely a great Florida road trip destination.
So what in the world brought me to Martin County Florida? I was invited by Discover Martin to come for my first sailing experience aboard the Schooner Lily and to visit the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.
I am excited to partner with Discover Martin to tell you about some of the great things to do in Martin County Florida.
Where is Martin County Florida?
Martin County Florida is comprised of 10 communities on the east coast of Florida between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean. The heart of Martin County is the town of Stuart, Florida. The other nearby communities are Hobe Sound, Hutchinson Island, Indiantown, Jensen Beach, Palm City, Port Salerno, Rio, Sewall’s Point, and Tequesta.
Sailing in Stuart Florida
The most popular things to do in Martin County are centered around being on the water with close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River, and the St. Lucie River.
I know absolutely nothing about sailing or sailboats but I have always wanted to experience what a sailboat experience would be like. I was so excited to go out on the Schooner Lily with Treasure Coast Sailing Adventures.
Schooner Lily is a wooden ship with 3 large sails that was originally built in the 70s to haul cargo in the northeast. It was fascinating to watch the captain and first mate hoist the sails. It was giving me Pirates of the Caribbean Vibes for sure.
Though it wasn’t super windy that day we did get a good enough period of wind gusts to turn off the motor and let the sails do their thing.
We cruised down the St. Lucie River, the captain told us more about the history of the schooner, and we just relaxed and took in the views.
It was very comfortable and felt stable and land is in sight during the entire trip. I never felt any hints of sea sickness. We were also allowed to bring snacks aboard.
The sailing trip departs from a public park dock and lasts for about 2 hours. It’s a great way to spend some time on the water and get a feel for what sailing is like.
Right now there is limited capacity to allow for plenty of social distancing while onboard but masks are not required while sailing.
Visiting the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Stuart Florida
Another popular attraction in Martin County Florida is the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. What a treasure this place is! Florida Oceanographic is also in Stuart, FL on Hutchinson Island, just across the street from Stuart Beach.
Their mission is to inspire environmental stewardship of Florida’s coastal ecosystems through education, research and advocacy with their 57 acre marine life nature center and programs.
We had a great time on a private tour set up for us by Martin County. Admittedly I didn’t know quite what to expect and it was such an interesting place to explore. As much as I love sea life and visiting aquariums I still learned some really fascinating fun facts from, Michelle our amazing guide.
There is a stingray touch tank and 5 invertebrates touch tanks. We touched sea cucumbers, urchins, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and fighting conch. I was blown away to learn that the shells are actually created by the animals that live in them and grow and expand with them as they grow. It’s only when they die that they become empty and crabs move into them. My inner nerd was fascinated.
They also have an amazing outdoor saltwater lagoon that has 10 nurse sharks that love to snuggle, sheepshead, tarpon, crevalle jack, and other fish. However, the real stars of the show, are the 3 resident rehabilitated sea turtles.
It was fascinating to learn about the stories of the sea turtles and how they got their names and where they were rescued. They are all injured and unreleasable into the wild so they’ve got the best retirement home money can buy.
The center also has programs for the restoration of sea grass, oyster beds, and mangroves. The mile-long nature trail is also a great way to learn more about the local ecosystem and enjoy a quiet moment in nature.
Unique Beaches of Martin County Florida
Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island provide 22 miles of mostly uncrowded beaches due to the county limit of 4 stories for buildings.
Unbeknownst to me, one of my all-time favorite beaches is in the southern part of Martin County in Hobe Sound, Blowing Rocks Preserve! I loved this beach because it’s the largest exposed outcropping of Anastasia rock on the Atlantic Coast which has formed “cliffs” on the beaches.
What I didn’t know was there were more beaches just like this!! All along Hutchinson Island, there are also Anastasia Rock cliffs. We parked at the House of Refuge and walked along the cliffs. The views are spectacular. It provides a much different experience than the beaches we are used to on the east coast.
It’s worth it to go and explore this unique sight, especially when it’s low tide and you can go down and walk beneath the cliffs and explore the caves.
Bathtub Beach, Stuart Beach, Jensen Beach, and Hobe Sound are the 4 beaches in Martin County Florida with lifeguards present.
What to Do in Martin County Florida
Exploring the parks and nature trails in Martin County Florida should certainly be added to your itinerary.
- Jonathan Dickson State Park – Hobe Sound
- Allapattah Flats Trail – Indiantown
- Indian Riverside Park – Jensen Beach
- Halpatiokee Regional Park – Stuart
- St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park – Stuart
There are also many fun water adventures throughout Martin County Florida, which is no surprise since Stuart is the Sailfish Capital of the World.
- Fishing charters
- Dive the Georges Valentine Shipreck
- Sailing Lessons at Sail Away
- SUP rentals at Zeke’s Surf and Paddleboard
- Kayak rentals at the state parks
You can also explore the quaint downtown of Stuart and its colorful buildings, see the various art in public spaces, or visit the House of Refuge, a historical site and museum dedicated to inventors.
Plan Your Own Martin County Florida Adventure
I enjoyed our quick day trip to Martin County Florida and it left me wanting to come back and spend a few days exploring even more. There really is a lot to do, especially for nature and water lovers like me!
Plan your getaway to Martin County Florida and learn where to stay, where to eat, and see sample itineraries at www.discovermartin.com.
Safety Disclaimer: Confirm what current COVID-19 health and safety protocols and guidelines are in place by all tour vendors, accommodations, and city/county/state guidelines prior to booking. Those choosing to travel during this time, do so at their own risk.