Hideaway on Hutchinson Island
Just far enough away to escape the hustle and bustle of the city streets is the secret gem of Florida’s Treasure Coast—a 23-mile stretch along the Atlantic Ocean from Fort Pierce to Stuart known as Hutchinson Island. This serene barrier island attracts visitors in search of beautiful weather, an abundance of outdoor activities, engaging experiences, and marvelous waterfront dining.
Fun in the Sun
Spend a day (or more) at the Marriott Hutchinson Island Beach Resort, Golf & Marina (marriott.com), where each room boasts a private balcony with views overlooking the island. The resort features beach and water sports, an 18-hole golf course, 13 tennis courts, a fitness center, and outdoor pools. Its 75-slip private marina offers full amenities, including fuel, water, electric, and free Wi-Fi. Boaters are welcome to use the resort’s amenities while docked. Members of Freedom Boat Club can also access boats from this marina.
Book a guided fishing charter from the resort’s marina to get to where the fish are biting. Many different fish species provide nonstop action for anglers of all skill levels.
There are also plenty of places to rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, such as Motorized Kayak Adventures (motorizedkayakadventures.com) which offers tours through the mangrove canopy forests of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and Lisa’s Kayaks (lisaskayaks.com) where knowledgeable guides navigate cruises on the IRL that are perfect for bird sightings.
Grab the sunscreen and head for any of the dozens of free public beaches on the island. The most popular is family friendly Bathtub Reef Beach—its clear water makes it perfect for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. Saddle up at Frederick Douglass Memorial Park, the only beach in southeast Florida that allows horseback riding along the shoreline. Show your skin in all its glory at Blind Creek Beach Park, the island’s only clothing-optional beach. But don’t worry, there are warning signs posted just in case the kids are in tow.
While you may be tempted to just relax on the beach all day, there are a few don’t-miss attractions around the island. Vintage car buffs will enjoy the Elliott Museum (hsmc-fl.com/elliott-museum), where a three-tiered robotic racking system displays 55 antique automobiles dating to 1903. Users can select one vehicle via a computer interface, and it will be placed on a rotating platform for a closer look.
Divers will want to check out the House of Refuge Museum at Gilbert’s Bar (hsmc-fl.com/house-of-refuge). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and the last remaining of the 10 that were built. The Houses of Refuge were run by the U.S. Lifesaving Service and designated as shelters for shipwrecked sailors along Florida’s Atlantic coast including those on the Georges Valentine, whose wreckage rests just 100 yards offshore.
Nature-lovers can get a close-up view of the sea life swimming around the 750,000-gallon game fish lagoon at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center (floridaocean.org/coastal-center). This 57-acre marine life nature center provides hands-on educational programs about Florida’s coastal ecosystem. Fun fact: From April to September, Hutchinson Island becomes one of the most important nesting areas for loggerhead turtles in the world.
Known for its “world-famous fried shrimp,” Chuck’s Seafood (chucks-seafood.com) is one of the area’s longest-standing restaurants. The casual waterfront eatery offers spectacular views of the Fort Pierce Inlet. For something a bit more upscale, dine oceanside at Kyle G’s Prime Seafood & Steaks (kylegseafood.com). Don’t let the name fool you. The award-winning restaurant also serves breakfast and brunch. Looking for waterfront dining with a full bar and live music? Stop by Manatee Island Bar and Grill (manateeislandbarandgrill.com). Be sure to take home a souvenir T-shirt!
With all there is to do, a visit to Hutchinson Island is definitely one to add to the bucket list.