Not much gold bullion awaits finding on the sea floor just off Florida’s “Treasure Coast”, the final resting place of loot-laden ships wrecked here in centuries past, but it’s history that earned this stretch of Atlantic shore, which starts north of the “Gold Coast” and runs up to the “Space Coast” its moniker. For those willing to look beyond precious metals and old coinage, the “treasure” runs from alligator sightings on Loxahatchee River to leisurely kayaking tours through shady mangroves stands, nesting turtles to snorkeling slowly over hard and soft corals in St. Lucie Inlet State Park.
Most of the Treasure Coast communities, fittingly, are fairly affluent with a definite statistical skew that favors yachts over dinghies. Nonetheless, even those short a gleaming big boat to call sometimes home can find things to see and do along this stretch of coast, particularly if your interests run towards wildlife and natural attractions. For starters, there’s some exceptional uncrowded beach to be found off Hutchinson Island, a barrier island linked by bridge to the mainland near Fort Pierce in the north and to the south near Port St. Lucie and Stuart. Three good state parks sit near the south end of the Treasure Coast, including St. Lucie Inlet State Park, an offshore park that covers several miles of primo snorkeling coral reef (boat-in only), Jonathon Dickinson State Park, which borders the Loxahatchee River (good for boating, paddling and manatee sightings) and John D. Macarthur State Park near Jupiter, where visitors can spot nesting turtles, aquariums and take kayak tours.
At the north end of the Treasure Coast find Fort Pierce, a modest city with military roots that is home to a Manatee Observation Center, a seaside state recreation area and a UDT-SEAL Museum (with a focus on the history of America’s elite “frogmen”). From Pepper Beach Park, not far from Fort Pierce, it’s possible to snorkel out to the shipwrecked Urca de Lima, an 18th-century Spanish ship submerged in shallow water. For those itching to spend a little more time out at sea, consider a day or two of charter fishing offshore or book a guided wild dolphin sighting boat-based tour with local operators.
The Treasure Coast covers the stretch of shore between the Gold Coast and the Space Coast and is accessible via cities like Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart and Jupiter.