In Martin County, Florida, you can watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean while deep-sea fishing, then head west to catch the sunset and a freshwater fish or two at Lake Okeechobee. It is the fantastic fishing, along with pristine beaches, diverse ecosystem, and excellent marine facilities that make Martin County a Waterway Guide Preferred Destination.
As the sun sets, relax at one of Martin County’s host of lodging options, from oceanfront resorts to brand name hotels to uniquely Florida motels and fishing camps to one-of-a-kind bed and breakfasts to more rugged camping facilities.
It’s a convenient stopover on your way further south or to the Bahamas. Those arriving here from the islands can easily clear customs at the brand new (in 2018) U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility at Witham Field (Martin County Airport) in Stuart.
Hutchinson Island If you would like to get off the boat or meet up with friends, this is the place to do it. For casually elegant accommodations where you can relax & recharge, check out the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina. Located on a barrier reef bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the ICW, this 200-acre resort offers 274 villa-style guest rooms. Each room features a private balcony with stunning views, stylish decor, pampering bedding and high-tech amenities, complete with an 18-hole executive golf course and 77-slip private marina. Hutchinson Island, home to miles of pristine and uncrowded beaches, is also abundant in history and cultural opportunities. Plan to spend a day at nearby Jensen Beach, a quiet ocean and riverfront town with beautiful beaches, great fishing, and a quaint downtown with a variety of small, locally-owned shops.
The St. Lucie River As you enter the St. Lucie River, take time to stop by the historic small-town fishing village of Port Salerno, which is defined by the picturesque bay of Manatee Pocket. Here you will find art galleries and studios alongside a working waterfront and fishing fleet that provides fresh seafood to local restaurants and markets.
Upriver on the St. Lucie is the delightful town of Stuart, which has been named “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” (Coastal Living), “America’s Most Beautiful Small Town” (Smithsonian Magazine) and “Top Ten Beach Towns in Florida” (Huffington Post). Stuart is also called the “Sailfish Capital of the World” and for good reason–the fishing is exceptional. After dining at one of the many excellent restaurants, take a romantic stroll along Stuart’s Riverwalk, stopping at the charming shops along the way to the sailfish fountain, where you absolutely must take a selfie!
The Okeechobee Waterway The Okeechobee Waterway extends from the Atlantic Ocean in Stuart to the Gulf of Mexico in Ft. Myers, earning the nickname “The Panama Canal of Florida.” Cruisers heading to the Gulf Coast via Lake Okeechobee and the lock system there can stop over in Indiantown before traversing the freshwater. Originally established by the Seminole people as a trading post, Indiantown is a naturally quaint town situated in the heart of Florida’s cattle and citrus country. The Indiantown Marina is just a stone’s throw from the charmingly restored Seminole Inn, which captures the grandeur of old Florida and where Johnny’s famous fried chicken just can’t be beat.
To Hobe Sound Back on the ICW headed south, spend a day at the pristine beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park. This is a classic Florida barrier island with mangrove forests and hammocks of live oaks, cabbage palms, paradise trees and wild lime. During the summer months, the island is an important nesting area for loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Swimming, surf fishing, snorkeling and diving are popular here. This is also a great place to catch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Our final stop is Hobe Sound, a quintessential beach town, with an eclectic collection of antique shops, funky eateries, art galleries and nature parks. Biking, hiking, canoeing and kayaking are popular pastimes in this small beach town. While here, visit the Hobe Sound Nature Center with over 20 native, live animals including snakes, crocodiles and skunks.
From here, you can cross to the Bahamas or continue south to Miami, the Florida Keys and beyond.