Most people set their eyes north when Florida’s hottest weather rolls in (June through August). While Hutchinson Island is already a rather quiet location, thanks to being off the beaten path and characterized by unpopulated beaches, it reaches new levels of serene in the late spring and summer. Here are the top attractions – from free flicks in a historic movie house to sunset drives – that you can only take advantage of during this time of year.
Activities & Attractions
Sample the Other Fishing Season
Sailfish season may be over (Hutchinson Island is known as the sailfish capital of the world as the waters here, during the fall and winter months, become flush with the coveted sport fish), but that also means the beginning of surf fishing season. Starting in April and lasting into October, Sailfish Point (located at the south end of Hutchinson Island) offers some of the best fishing from the beach and the inlet, thanks to lush seagrass beds that are home to hundreds of fish species, including snook, tarpon, and mangrove snapper. Just make sure you arrive prepared (there are several tackle shops in Jensen Beach alone, including Snook Nook, North Fork Bait & Tackle, and West Marine).
Watch Young Birds of Prey Take to the Sky
Bald eagles fledge their young from late February to the beginning of April (fledging is a process that prepares a young bird to be able to fly). Ospreys then follow suit in March, with most of their young leaving the nest by May. The best place to see them make their first attempts at flight is along the aptly named Hawks Bluff Trail, a one-mile loop at Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie.
Take a Sunset Drive
From June into July, the sun doesn’t set until almost 9 p.m., making sunset drives the preferred after-dinner activity. For the best views, take advantage of the 20-mile stretch of Indian River Road between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce. The 35-mile-per-hour road meanders through the Savannas Preserve and beside old Florida mansions with the Intracoastal Waterway as your constant companion, reflecting back the colors of the spectacular sunset.
Witness an Alligator Looking for a Lover
Alligator mating season runs from April to July, making them far more active than usual as they look for mates. So, if you’ve ever wanted to hear an alligator mating call, now is the perfect time to take an eco-tour – we suggest River Lilly Cruises’ 1.5-hour tours – through the St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve, the freshwater and brackish water system encompassing roughly 5,000 acres in Port St Lucie. The reptiles’ deep bellows create vibrations in the water and can even be felt on board the 34-passenger pontoon boat.
Cool off with a Classic Flick
July and August can be brutal in Florida, with temperatures in the 90s and humidity ranging from 60 to 90 percent. Sure, one way to beat the heat is to glue yourself poolside, but for a taste of culture in an air-conditioned setting, head to downtown Stuart to The Lyric Theatre, a Mission Revival–style building originally built in 1926 as a silent movie house. In July and August, the venue even offers a free summer film series, screening Academy Award–winning films at 2, 3, and 5 p.m., from classics like The Birds and Dirty Dancing to La La Land and Jersey Boys.
Festivals & Events
Stuart Single Fin Showdown, 3/24
What started as a small gathering of the area’s best surfers competing for bragging rights at the Stuart Public Beach has become Florida’s largest amateur surf festival. Each of the 125 competitors are given a vintage single-fin board from the ’70s to add an extra bit of challenge. Spectators watch while enjoying live music and plenty of food.
Classics at the Beach Car Show, 3/24
Just over a mile away from the surf contest, the Elliott Museum holds its annual celebration of vintage cars. This juried car show features classics from the museum’s collection as well as cars from private collectors in Martin County and beyond.
Shrimp & Lobster Fest, 4/27–4/29
Taking place at Stuart’s Memorial Park, this seafood festival is only in its second year but is already making waves in the area by pulling in entertainment heavy hitters, like Wyclef Jean from the Fugees and The Original Wailers lineup including Al Anderson. Of course, there will also be seafood, fried food, and desserts provided by local eateries, as well as beer tents from Bud Light and local craft breweries.
Stuart Sailfish Regatta, 5/19–5/20
This event brings high-performance watercrafts to the usually quiet Stuart Causeway to speed across the water at over 100 miles an hour. This year, kick things off with a VIP party the night before, where ticket holders get the opportunity to meet the racers at the outdoor celebration at the Riverwalk.
Dancing in the Streets, August (final date still to be determined)
During Martin County’s longest running street party and music festival (it’s been 30 years), four stages are constructed on Stuart’s Main Street to host 20 local bands. Along with the best local music, food vendors from across Martin County join the town’s already bustling restaurant scene to feed appetites of all types.
Where to Stay Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa