Palm Beach County
For Every Pleasure, Passion and Pastime
CRUISING THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY IS
A UNIQUELY FLORIDA EXPERIENCE, and while Beach Water Sports was the most affordable option, the staff were less than friendly. Nevertheless, we rented a 22’ Pontoon boat and set out on an afternoon cruise north on Indian River towards Peck Lake, which is a part of the Intracoastal. Along the way you can marvel at the waterfront homes and neighbourhoods, each has a boat dock or marina, but always be on the lookout for dolphins or manatees. We didn’t see any – dolphins or manatees that is, but lots of beautiful homes – most shuttered for the summer. Jupiter is the winter home for many golfing greats like Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, and Gary Player, and singers including Celine Dion, Alan Jackson and Kid Rock, and other celebrities and professional athletes - so bring along your binoculars and paparazzi camera lenses.
We moored on the east side of Peck Lake (look for the tower) and walked 50 metres across Jupiter Island along a path to find the Atlantic Ocean and a relatively uninhabited beach. Another family had packed along a tent, chairs, cooler (and the family pet) to spend the afternoon – and so should you.
This adventure into Seabranch Preserve State Park is great on a hot day as you can enjoy the breeze as you cruise, even if Mother Nature hasn’t provided any wind. The Intracoastal is protected from waves, so you do not need to be an expert boater to enjoy yourselves.
Native fauna can be hard to spot in the wild, but not at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. This non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving Florida’s wildlife through the rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation - and education of local and visitor human inhabitants. While some of their ‘guests’ vary as they are rehabilitated and released, others are permanent residents, which can’t return to their natural habitat in Florida due to their injuries or complacency towards humans. Exploring along the lush tropical paths, you’ll typically be able to see everything from Florida’s foxes to falcons, skunks to snakes, parrots to panthers, and of course the infamous alligators. www.buschwildlife.org
The wind whips past us, as our earmuffs attempt to protect us from the roar of the massive fan propelling us through the forest of tall grass. We are hunting (with cameras) for the elusive alligators that so far we’ve only seen at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. The adrenaline rush of crossing the small lake is replaced with
anticipation as we quietly idle through the narrow channels, peering into the murky grasslined banks, searching for the wary prehistoric predators that we know are all around us. ‘There’s one”, shouts Jason as our pilot cuts the engine and cameras follow eyeballs to the rustle and splash on shore. While that was our only sighting, our guide took us to see an alligator nest, and a small pond where gazing below the still surface, in water as clear as an aquarium, schools of fish swarmed towards the bread we tossed from the side. 45 minutes passed in the blink of an eye and then it was time to return to the dock. Eagle Boat Airboat rides have great staff, a small outdoor fresh food market, and of course – gator head souvenirs. For the hearty and the brave – you can hold a baby gator!
Marina Square in Fort Pierce (an hour drive north of Jupiter) seems to be Florida’s capital of outdoor markets. We stopped there for the Farmer’s Market (every Saturday 8 am to 12 pm) to wander among the eclectic mix of vendors. Fresh fruits and veggies, exotic plants, spices, clothing, food and music – and all free to see. At the same time, you can also stop in at the Jazz Craft Market, or make it to the Wednesday Green Market instead. The Fort Pierce Marina even proclaims to have ‘Florida’s Best Fishing.’ Next time we’ll let them prove it!
Shopping can make you thirsty and tired, so it’s a good thing the ‘Original Tiki Bar’ is next door to the market, overlooking the marina with a great vibe and live music. Odds are you’ll hear Jimmy Buffet’s greatest ballads from the microphone, and enjoy another iconic Florida experience.
Our only caveat is that the road into Fort Pierce, unfortunately, doesn’t display the prosperity of Jupiter, with barred, shuttered and abandoned businesses along your route to the market. While Marina Square and downtown is a fantastic place to visit for the day, I can’t say I would recommend you make this a home base for your stay.
After exploring so much of the natural habitat, we needed some civilization and found ourselves with tickets in hand entering Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals in the triple A league, and the Gulf Coast Marlins and Gulf Coast Cardinals in the Rookie league. With four teams calling the stadium home, there is a game in the stadium almost every day April through August. Then during spring training, you can watch the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins practice from the end of February to the end of March.
Speaking of civilized, when I suggest service to your chair, a call button for food and alcohol, while in reclining seats with a tray table, you naturally think airplane. However, these words describe the luxury cinema experience at Cineopolis cinema in Jupiter. We purchased our tickets ($41 US for two adults), chose our seats at the ticket counter, passed the full-service bar on the way to our theatre, reclined in our spacious, plush, leather seats, and then ordered food and beverages from the server after reviewing the menu. If we had any further food and drink desires, we pushed the call button on the arm of our chair, and our server reappeared. You can also order your tickets online, choosing your movie, time, and seats. There are also non-luxury theatres available as well. It is expensive for ‘going to the movies,’ but then again it is a quite an experience.
West Palm Beach County, like much of Florida, is overflowing with a multitude of satisfying experiences for every pleasure, passion, and pastime. Don’t wait another year to get your fill!
Clockwise: Boat rental on Intracoastal, Eagle Bay Airport and the Roger Dean Stadium.
Top: Fort Pierce and bottom: Gator at the Eagle Bay Airboat.