Visiting Jupiter (FL)
Forest Trails to Flying Fish
We landed in Jupiter on a hot, humid afternoon as rolling thunder from Cumulonimbus clouds threatened overhead. A typical summer day in Jupiter, Florida, located at the north coastal end of Palm Beach County, and where we planned to enjoy life to the fullest.
After the long drive we had only one goal in mind, get to the ocean. Carlin Park was highly recommended, so after we were settled, we piled into the car with a loaded cooler. After parking in the expansive lot, we crested the palm and fern-covered berm to find a seemingly endless expanse of soft sand that stretched north and south to the horizon, with an azure ocean gently caressing the land with soft rollers. The water temperature in July is a balmy 27°C. Entering the ocean I discovered that the sand doesn’t stop at the waters edge, but extends another 30 metres from shore where the water
is still only chest high.
There are covered picnic areas parallel to the beach, west of the berm, each with running water and a charcoal BBQ. After a long swim with the kids, using boogie boards to body surf, we settled in to one of these little cabanas to enjoy grilled steaks, baked potatoes and Caesar salad, then back to beach for a twilight swim before bed.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum stands watch at the entrance to the Loxahatchee River, where Juan Ponce de Leon reportedly searched for the fabled fountain of youth. Instead he found the Native American Jeaga tribe, who
Clockwise from top: Juno pier fishing at dusk, looking for a wave at Carlin Park Beach, Guanabanas Restaurant, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Blowing Rocks Preserve Beach.
shot at him with bows and arrows. Visitors now receive a warmer welcome than Florida’s first European explorer.
You can only visit the lighthouse and grounds with a guide, and tickets are $12/adult. The tour includes a hike up the 105 steps of the lighthouse with views from the top, then a visit and short video in the centre next to the lighthouse, and a tour through the museum at the entrance to the attraction. It’s intriguing to discover the history of the area while wandering the lighthouse, building and grounds.
A six-minute drive north of the lighthouse we discovered Blowing Rocks Preserve, which is managed by the Nature Conservancy. At high tide and during winter storms, the waves smash against the Anastasia limestone shore and send plumes of water up to 15 metres skyward. On our visit they just reached the occasional one metre height, but the beach is still a spectacular sight to see. Travel tips - No food, alcohol or large coolers are allowed but you can, and should, bring water and a camera. The charcoal grey sand also gets quite hot in summer so bring your best sandals to walk the beach. There are trails cut through the 73-acre area so you can easily hike through the dense jungle-like mangrove swamp, through tropical hardwood hammock forest and along the coastal strand. This is the Florida that Native Americans called home and which greeted the early European explorers.
The most affordable and best fishing experience we found was with Blue Heron Fleet Drift Fishing. We boarded the Blue Heron 101, a 101 ft vessel for a four-hour fishing adventure. They provide the bait, rod and reel, however you can bring your own, and experienced locals did. The very entertaining crew puts bait on your hook as often as necessary, and they haul your fish aboard. You won’t have to touch anything. They provide all the instruction you need, so anyone who has never fished before can feel comfortable. Some guests repeatedly created the proverbial birds’ nest with their fishing line, tangled with each others lines, got caught on the bottom, lost hooks, sinkers and bait, and yet every member of the crew including the captain were always there eager to help so guests could begin fishing again. But before you think this is a beginner’s charter. Let us remind you about those repeat experienced locals who boarded because this crew knows where to go to catch fish.
Along the way we saw flying fish, and sharks, all while hauling in yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, mackerel, Bluefin tuna, bonita, cobia, drum, grouper, and grunt. We landed a couple of yellowtail snapper, which the crew fileted for us, and we returned home to pan-fry them with salt and pepper for a delicious lunch.
Travel tips for this adventure is bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a small cooler with some snacks. Water and pop was available for just $1. Ticket price for an adult was just $45 and kids under 13 for only $35. We really enjoyed this adventure.
You can also fish from land at Juno Beach Pier. For four dollars, you can enter the gated 300-metre pier for terrific saltwater fishing or enter for just a dollar to embrace the scenic views. The Pier House has beverages, souvenirs and snacks to accompany fishing pole rentals, and bait and tackle sales. What makes it especially interesting is that it is across the street from the Loggerhead Marine Life Center and part of the Responsible Pier Initiative. This
program is designed to work directly with fishermen and fishing piers to promote a healthy environment for sea turtles and other marine life.
If you only eat out once in Jupiter, it has to be at Guanabanas. From humble beginnings as a surfers sandwich shop, this open air waterfront restaurant has become a lush garden dining experience. Free valet parking outside sets the tone for great service as you enter the large tropical rooms protected by high woven Tiki roofs. Ocean and surf paraphernalia decorate the walls to completely immerse you in the equatorial ambience. All ages live music starts on stage at 4 pm with no cover charge, and then adults can come out to play as the 21 and over concerts start at 9pm – most often with no cover as well. The Florida bands along with international acts stop here to play rock, reggae, funk, jazz and virtually every other style of music. Check out their events calendars you can match your audio palate to accompany your taste sensations.
Jupiter is a vibrant, yet relaxing city to settle in for all, or part of the winter, making it a great home base to explore southeast Florida. There’s so much more to do here from renting a boat so you can safely cruise the Intracoastal Waterway to taking a wide-eyed airboat tour, visiting the outdoor markets in Fort Pierce, to shopping the outlet mall in West Palm Beach.