Florida’s Treasure Coast is on the Atlantic side of the state, right between Palm Beach County and the Space Coast. It includes all of Martin and St. Lucie counties and cities along the Indian River area. It’s named for the treasures that sunk to the bottom of the sea with the Plate Fleet during a hurricane in 1715. This part of Florida is quieter and less touristy than the Miami area or the Gulf Coast, but still has plenty of fun things to do and see.
Exploring Treasure Coast History
One of the more remote parts of the Atlantic coastline, the Treasure Coast has a unique and captivating history, which can still be felt and experienced today. Visit House of Refuge at Gilbert's Bar in Stuart to get a look at what it was like to be a shipwrecked sailor in need of food and shelter. This is the oldest building in Martin County, and the only remaining house of refuge (there were 10 built along the Atlantic coast in the 1800s).
Another great place for early American history is The Elliott Museum. Classic cars, trucks, bikes, and boats are on display, as well as a lot of Americana memorabilia. There’s also a Foucault pendulum and several revolving art exhibits.
Enjoying Art and Culture on the Treasure Coast
Also in Stuart, the Lyric Theater is fun to visit because it was once a silent movie theater. Now, it’s a place for performing arts and always packed with locals wanting to see a show. Hobe Sound is a great place for antiques, art galleries, and eclectic boutiques. Every February, the beachside village hosts the Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts, which attracts artisans and crafters from all over the southeastern U.S. Even outside of the festival, the downtown area is a great place to spend some time shopping, sipping coffee, and chatting with friends.
Treasure Coast Nature and Wildlife Abounds
Interested in wildlife, native plants, and hiking through the diverse ecosystem of coastal Florida? Start at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which is named for a Jamaican Quaker merchant who was shipwrecked in the area in 1696. Fish, boat, or paddle on the Loxahatchee River, do some biking through the scrub forest or take the horses along the equestrian trails that run through upland lakes and coastal sandhills.
Avalon State Park on Hutchinson Island near Fort Pierce is also a great place for hiking and nature. Sea turtles nest along the quiet coast and safely lay their eggs. In Port St. Lucie, there's also the Spruce Bluff Preserve where visitors can hike, identify birds, and even arrive by canoe from the north fork of the St. Lucie River. There’s plenty of history at this preserve, too. It was a pioneer settlement in 1891, and there’s a prehistoric Indian burial mound on the preserve’s south end.
Don’t Forget the Treasure Coast Beaches
The beaches on the Treasure Coast are different from other Florida beaches. They’re quieter, more pristine, and less populated. At Bathtub Reef Beach, there’s an offshore reef system providing a habitat for around 500 marine creatures. Sandbars serve as offshore beaches during low tide in the spring and summer.
If you like to surf, Hutchinson Island is the place to hang ten. There are five acres of untouched beach for people who like to sunbathe and swim. Jensen Beach Park is the most popular public beach on the Treasure Coast, and it’s easy to find a beach volleyball game, umbrella and chair rentals, or facilities such as restrooms and playgrounds. There are also concessions and a fishing pier.
Where to Live on the Treasure Coast
Active adults planning to relocate to this special part of Florida have a number of good options. In Port St. Lucie, Vitalia at Traditions has 1,200 new and resale single-family homes that start in the low $200s. This gated 55+ community has resort-style amenities and 10 different model options.
There’s also Woodfield in Vero Beach, built by Centex and Lennar Homes. One of the most affordable neighborhoods on the Treasure Coast, this community of single-family and attached homes has models starting in the high $100s. It’s within walking distance to the Indian River Mall, where residents can find shops and restaurants. Amenities include pools, tennis courts, and a large clubhouse that hosts social clubs and activities.
Another affordable option is Montego Cove in Stuart. This gated 55+ community is comprised of fewer than 200 condos, all priced from below $100k to the low $200s. The small size of this neighborhood inspires close friendships and a real sense of community. There are also a couple of outdoor pools, shuffleboard courts, and fishing lakes to enjoy. Residents stroll through the nature preserve area and take advantage of the biking and walking trails.