The city of Stuart, set along Florida’s renowned Treasure Coast and just north of Palm Beach, is beloved for its historic and pedestrian-friendly downtown. Over the years, it has evolved from a small, quiet fishing village into a bustling boating hub. Even today, many things in the community revolve around fishing (local charter captains will proudly tell you that Stuart is the Sailfish Capital of the World), but there are also enough shops and sights to satisfy those people in your crew who aren’t crazy about baiting hooks and dragging lines.
The St. Lucie River runs through and around Stuart, and a stroll along the floating dock known as the Riverwalk is a great way to connect with the energy of the town. There’s a big wood platform at one end where concerts are held each Sunday from November through April. Don’t miss the many locally owned boutiques, restaurants, galleries and cafes lining quaint Main Street nearby.
Many visitors to the area can’t resist a trip or two out onto the St. Lucie River itself. Much of the waterway is blessed with lush, natural beauty — if you’re lucky, you might even see a manatee.
For an even bigger adventure, head to the St. Lucie Inlet Preserve Park, accessible only by boat. Tie up there and mosey along the 3/4-mile boardwalk that meanders from dense mangroves to beach dunes.
There are lots of great places to raft-up, too, including the ever-popular Stuart sandbar in the ICW near Sailfish Point. However, when navigating these waters captains should pay close attention, as there are many tricky shallow areas and shoals.
If you’re game for some more exploring, follow the ICW to Manatee Pocket and the historic village of Port Salerno. Situated just south of the St. Lucie Inlet, Manatee Pocket is also known as the Crossroads, as this is where the Intracoastal intersects with the Okeechobee Waterway. It’s home to several marinas and boatyards, and there are terrific local restaurants, too.
And, of course, then there’s the fishing. The sport is taken very seriously around Stuart, and a large fleet of charter boats offers both inshore and offshore expeditions. Many are docked at Pirate’s Cove Marina and specialize in sailfish, marlin, kingfish, wahoo and other pelagic species. And even if you never really liked fishing, you just might get hooked in a town like Stuart.
THE ESSENTIALS: STUART, FLORIDA
WHERE TO DOCK
Loggerhead Marina Stuart (9772-692-4000, loggerheadstuart.com) This marina can accommodate vessels up to 120 feet and has a pool, ship store, and Wi-Fi.
Sunset Bay Marina & Anchorage (772-283-9225, sunsetbaymarinaandanchorage.com) Sunset Bay is a newly renovated 198-slip marina with a fuel dock and 60 moorings.
WHERE TO DINE
Pirate’s Loft (772-287-2500, piratescoveresort.com) Located at the Pirate’s Cove Resort and Marina, devour into the flavorful salads and fresh caught seafood. The 50-slip marina has room for vessels up to 100 feet and fuel.
Sailor’s Return (772-872-7250, thesailorsreturn.com) Enjoy sunsets, happy hour an live music at this lively waterfront restaurant located a Sunset Bay Marina. There is 930 feet of courtesy dockage available.