Birds on the beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is located on a barrier island and is only accessible by boat. Once you arrive at the dock,you'll find a 3,330-foot boardwalk that wanders through mangrove forests and across hammocks of live oaks, paradise trees, cabbage palms and wild lime trees to a beautiful, completely undisturbed beach on the Atlantic. A lot of human visitors come to explore and learn about a pristine barrier island habitat while others come to enjoy the beach and the surf fishing.

The white, sandy beach is 2.7 miles long. From March to October the beach sees a lot of activity from leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles coming to lay their eggs in the peace and quiet. The rest of the island is mostly treed hammock although there are several miles of tidal creek just waiting to enjoy a visit from folks in canoes and kayaks.

Within sight of the beach you'll find a picnic pavilion with 8 picnic tables and 2 cooking grills. Use is first-come, first-served.

Just offshore of St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is a 4.7-mile-long Anastasia rock reef. The water depths range from 5 to 35 feet above the reef and it extends up to one mile offshore. Snorkelers and scuba divers love visiting and enjoying the many species of corals, tropical fishes and other marine lifeforms associated with the reef. However, spear fishing is not allowed. You also need to display a "Diver Down" flag on the surface. Water temperatures vary from the mid to upper 80's (°F) in the summer and mid to lower 70's (°F) in the winter. On days when the offshore breeze is strong, be on the lookout for dangerous rip tides.

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is open for day use only from 8 am until sunset every day of the year. Entry Fees: $3 per boat, $2 per canoe or kayak. You'll want exact change as you'll be paying into an iron ranger.

To get there: put your boat in the Intracoastal Waterway at St. Lucie Inlet and paddle south about 2/3 of a mile on that waterway.