Updated: Aug 9
Florida State Park Favorite: Sebastian Inlet
There are tons of State Parks in Florida, (175 to be exact) but how many can offer you such a wide variety of beauty and activity? Have you noticed its great location? The fishing here is a big deal, as are surfing, snorkeling, wildlife watching and camping. Where the Indian River Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean there is a channel well known for it’s challenging route, and picturesque scene of cat walks and walkways giving front row seats to watch as the two waterways collide. A fixed highway bridge crosses the inlet with a vertical clearance of 37 feet. But, talk about fun at the park? You're in the right place.
Sebastian Inlet is centrally located on the East Coast of Florida boarding Brevard and Indian River Counties. This state park offers a host of recreational activities for water sports enthusiasts and naturalists. Surrounded on both sides by Sebastian Inlet State Park (one of the most visited parks in the Florida), the inlet supports one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America. Many studies and tons of research have been conducted here. The inlet is not only vital to the ecological health of the Indian River Lagoon, but it is also an important economic force for the region with a $200 million economic impact annually, being one of five navigable channels that connect the Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean. Meaning: manatees, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and many more creatures, gather here. And this channel is no joke. Many inexperienced boaters have washed into the jetties lining the waterway, often with a crowd of onlookers.
The park occupies 755 acres on the barrier island on the coast of Brevard County, at a point where a channel links the Indian River intracoastal waterway with the Atlantic. Part of the park is south of the inlet on North Vero Beach in Indian River County
Why is this park great for small kids?
The Cove. Also known as the Tide Pool.
Because of the shape and layout of the land here, there is a separated cove area for swimming. This is protected from the waves by rocks jetties, and lined by a rope to indicate shallow/ deeper water. This area is perfect for smaller kids learning to swim or explore the water. It’s also frequented by manatees and dolphins who enjoy the shallow area themselves. Learning to snorkel? Perfect spot. There are cool things to see while staying close to the shore. The sandy beach is often lined with sand castles and children just playing on the shore line, beside the local birds.
Those who prefer the surf can set up camp on the other side facing the Atlantic Ocean. (Most days we toggle between) A great place to boogie board, wave jump, surf or just enjoy the view.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Exploring under the sea can be very rewarding! At Sebastian Inlet, snorkeling and scuba diving give you a view of sea life that those who don’t brave putting their head under water miss out on. The rock reefs stretch for miles giving you hours of fun for exploring. Snorkel along the rocks and it's experience what it's like to be in an aquarium with all types of small tropical fish. People walk out onto the rocks, and jump in, allowing the current to drift them down so they can scan the bottom of the sea for treasures. Mostly they find fishing lures and observe the colorful fish, but this area has been known for treasures! Scuba divers and snorkelers must be within 100 feet of a dive flag for safety.
Two jetties extend over the Atlantic and the Channel giving you access to saltwater fishing. Perfect for all ages, the jetties are also ADA accessible so everyone can enjoy the sport of fishing! A saltwater fishing license is required for those 16 and up. There is a fishing bridge next to the cove. It runs under the 35 foot overpass, making it shady and generally offering a nice breeze. A short walk along the channel will bring you to the large fishing pier. Shark fishing is a sport out here, but there is a fisherman posted for every type of fish that swims by. The marina is right there providing bait and a wealth of insight for the novice.
Offering both tent and RV camping, Sebastian Inlet is a perfect spot for those who enjoy the outdoors, morning, day, and night. With 51 RV campsites that have water and electrical hookups, restroom facilities, and a dump station, you can comfortably enjoy your camping setup.Having access to both the Ocean and the LAgoon from multiple entry points there is unmatched marine wildlife viewing. This is one of the hardest sites to book in the state due to popularity and snow birds. Sites have easy access to the water and the general location makes it a hit. Publix and shopping with in a few miles, and all of the essentials available with in the park make this a local favorite. The boat launch seals the deal.
Camping and cabin reservations can be made using one of the following methods:
• Online - Reserve.FloridaStateParks.org.
• Call center – 800-326-3521 or TDD 888-433-0287 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time.
• At a park – Visitors can contact the park directly to make reservations for primitive sites, primitive group camps and developed group camps.
What a Project!
In May of 1919, the Sebastian Inlet District was formed with a charter of maintaining the navigational channel connecting the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. While recently celebrating it’s 100-year existence, there have been several upgrades and maintenance projects not just maintain the systems in place, but also to enhance the overall experience for visitors. Just ask anyone who has fished off the pier, eaten at the Surfside Grill, (their concession shop has boomed) or walked the Hammock Trail which has plants identified and labeled. Their bathrooms are recently remodeled and clean!
A great place for science
Children are natural explorers. Give them a net and a bucket in the shallow water and see what happens next. For adults, pending time in nature is shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. First thing's first - the water is cool. Seeing the difference of the Ocean and the River is mind-blowing. How do they stay in their own places? This is a rich place to breathe, swim and snorkel, see many species while experiencing modern engineering meets nature. Florida Tech does several research projects here, looking at the effects of sands, tides and erosion. The Indian River Lagoon – America’s most diverse estuary offers a true appreciation for marine life. These pine flatwoods, cypress domes, scrubby flatwoods, and sand hills habitats are home to many native plants and animals, including over 50 protected species. To get closer you could take an eco-cruise on a pontoon boat. Tours carefully glide over seagrass beds, opening up the secrets of the Indian River Lagoon and its amazing wildlife. These can be booked inside of the Mangroves and marsh lands offer protection to the young creatures growing up in this diverse home. Want to see a variety of birds, and fish? All you have to do is look, it is all there.
Boating/ Jet Skiing
A scenic day out on the water, cruising the Intracoastal Waterway, River and Ocean can add to your memory bank immeasurably. Listening to music, floating, fishing, relaxing in the wild... does this sound like fun? Just be aware that the inlet from the ocean to the river is one of the most dangerous waterways due to the sudden burst of waves ready to greet you. When the current is changing, the force of the water can be unexpected. Pilon's and jetties don't make the navigation any easier. On a positive note, with a marina to stock up on goodies, bait, tackle, and ice and boat ramps to launch from, you will be all set for a day of fun out on the water. Bring your own Jet Ski or rent one. The Sandbar is the place to gather, anchor and tie up then walk around in the shallow water to meet others and picnic in the water. Sea stars and hermit crabs galore,bring your own drinks and snacks and join the party.
* Bring Bug Spray - baby oil is a great alternative for keeping off the no see ums
* Sunscreen / Sunhat - there is not a lot of shade at the beach! In the trails there is some.
* Pack a picnic lunch there are lots of places to sit at a table, or stretch out on a beach towel
* What would you like? Our beach days range from walking in barefoot with nothing in our hands to bringing coolers loaded with drinks, snacks and lunch, beach chairs, speakers, all the beach toys and fun, boogie boards, skim boards, and umbrellas, and a few dollars/ debit card. I love to bring a waterproof phone case, and water proof bag. There is no volley ball net, but we've been known to do family volley or family toss, or even a ring game. This can be based on how long you plan to stay or what you need. Some days it is all about relaxing! Feet up, and enjoy the view with a good book.
*They have ample parking, I've never seen the lot full. But the earlier you arrive, the better the parking is. We sometimes go in the later day to avoid the noon crowd also.
* Be prepared to see some wildlife! Camera or binoculars as desired.
*If you've never snorkeled and want to try this is a great place to practice in the cove area.
*If you want to learn to fish this is also a great place for a start. Lots of fishermen around and everything you need it at your fingertips.
Park Admission Fees:
$8.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
Want to rent a paddle board/ kayak or schedule a guided tour?
Bayside and Marina
9502 S. Hwy A1A
Melbourne Beach Florida, 32951
Located inside Sebastian Inlet State Park
Restaurant & Marina Surfside Grill &
Mon-Sun: 9am – 5pm - (321) 724-2112
Subject to change based on the season
9700 S. Hwy A1A
Melbourne Beach FL, 32951
Recently we pulled up to discover there was a concert in the pavilion.
Plenty of people book parties and weddings here.
I once had a wedding here too... and the wedding was beautiful. Tiki torch pathway, columns and archway set up, surfers behind us... it was all great except for those pesky noseeums!
** baby oil applied to your legs will prevent being bitten.
Location Location Location....
Other things in the area: Click the underlined links to open those pages...
Take your boat over to the sand bar! - See above...
Spoil Islands - If you are looking for extra adventure, boat over to one of several recreation islands in the Indian River Lagoon. The state-designated recreation “spoil” islands have beautiful sandy beaches to work explore. Search for sharks teeth, set up a hammock, or comb the shore admiring the biodiversity. There are plenty of shaded areas, and there always seems to be a nice sea breeze coming from the east to keep cool. A number of the Spoil Islands have campsites with large picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. The recreation island camps are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and there is no charge to use them. Small boats can be pulled up on shore, but larger boats you’ll want to moor just offshore and wade up to the l
Captain Hirams -
Indian River County is
known for it's waterfront dining. Capt. Hiram’s Resort even made Coastal Living’s “10 Best Beach Bars in Florida.” Delicious seafood, ice cold drinks and live music will have you eating and dancing in the scenic sandy spot. The best part is, you don’t have to pull your boat out of the water. Pull up to the dock and walk up for a menu.
*There are many restaurants and hangout spots to dock your boat and enjoy all the local favorites.
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge - While sea turtles are
threatened with extinction throughout the world, the Archie Carr NWR hosts the largest nesting population of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles in the U.S., with a quarter of all loggerhead sea turtle nests and a third of all green sea turtle nests. The refuge stretches across 20.5 miles between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach along Florida's east coast in Brevard and Indian River Counties.
The Environmental Learning Center, provides a 64-acre nature center for children of all ages, and a multitude of cruise options from sunset tours to Pelican Island Tours or Sebastian Inlet tours. Just over the causeway in Vero Beach.
Thank you for joining our journey, and sharing the adventure!
The Beach is good any time, although in each season it brings a different vibe.
I recommend stopping by often for more memories in beautiful places.
Please share any of your favorite things about Sebastian Inlet State Park.
We are fortunate to live 45 minutes from this paradise and hope you can experience this place for yourself.
~ Ms. Savvy
While Sebastian is on the Central East Coast, Saint Augustine is about 3 hours North right up I-95. This historic city should be on everybody's bucket list. Click here to explore!
More East Coast Adventures - Have you ever wanted to go horseback riding on the beach?
Fort Pierce has a great spot for this and much more fun close by. Click here for details!
A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.
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