On July 31st, 2015, divers struck gold when they found 4.5 million dollars’ worth of Spanish coins off the coast of Vero Beach, 170 miles southeast of Orlando. It’s just a fraction of the loot that was lost when 11 ships laden with jewelry and precious metals capsized during a hurricane in 1715, exactly 300 years earlier, on their return to Spain.
Those riches have been washing up on Florida’s mid-eastern coast ever since, and it’s why this region, which encompasses St. Lucie, Indian River and Martin counties, is known as Florida’s Treasure Coast.
Though we didn’t unearth any gold coins on our recent trip, we did discover a treasure trove of vacation gems. Here were some of our favourites.
Indian River County
“We are now entering Osprey Alley,” said Captain John, and we were treated to the sight of several large nests and their feathered inhabitants. We marvelled at mothers taking care of their fledglings, fanning them to keep them cool. These graceful water birds were just one of many wildlife sightings on this unforgettable airboat tour of Blue Cypress Lake. We also spotted alligators, turtles, eagles, great blue herons and the adorable two-day-old moorhens.
Lunch was also memorable at Capt. Hiram’s Resort’s Bahamian-styled Sand Bar. Surrounded by palm trees, our feet sunk in the warm white sand, it was the ideal island ambiance for noshing on conch fritters and mahi-mahi tacos. The best part is you can eat as much as you want because the magic mirror in the women’s washroom makes you appear 20lbs thinner. “I want to take it home,” murmured one patron while admiring the distorted, but oh so flattering view.
Our next boating excursion was straight out of a James Bond movie on the aptly named yacht, ‘Moonraker’. Fully equipped with kitchen, showers, a BBQ and even a hammock, this 40-foot catamaran sailboat can be chartered for a couple of hours or an entire day. We sailed on a sunset cruise, a picture-perfect introduction to Vero Beach, a destination often referred to as Florida’s Hamptons. We capped off this fine evening at Ocean Grill, a local institution known for its seafood, ocean view and stately atmosphere.