The Florida Beaches Royalty Tour – September 2013

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This past weekend trip ranks up there as one of my favorites this year. Now I should tell you up front that we found one (yes one) keeper shell – a striped Bittersweet clam. But this trip was more about getting away and enjoying the drive and places more than anything else.

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It’s about a two and a half hour drive to get there from Fort Myers, and a peaceful drive at that. So grab a couple CDs, turn the A/C on and enjoy the cruise.

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As we passed through the middle of the state, we were able to get a good look at the water levels that have plagued our area for several months. The levels are certainly high all over and right up to the banks in almost every spot we saw. Unfortunately, this looks to continue for a little while longer.

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We arrived in Vero, checked into the hotel and decided to give the next day’s plan a dry run.

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The plan was to actually spend the day visiting a couple of the beaches (Humiston and Jaycee) up the Vero coast and hang out for a while.

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This view was around 6 o’clock on Friday night from Humiston Park. Looked like a nice, peaceful spot to relax, take in some rays and get in the water for a bit to see what we could find. Then we noticed that there was a Farmer’s market the next day – had to check that out. Then back at the hotel, we heard about a surfing festival in Sebastian, just a few miles to the North. Hey, what good are plans if you can’t throw em out the window and start over? So instead of a one-fer, we made it a two-fer. Two beaches for the price of one.

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So what’s a great way to start off a beach day? Donuts, of course. Luckily, on the way we found  Tast’y O Donut and decided to pop in to see what they had on the menu.

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Who knew that at the end of every rainbow is a pot of donuts? Ha! Well, Tast’y O Donuts had their share.

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Coffee was average, but the jelly donut I ate was the best I’ve ever had. No kidding.

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…so filled with donuts, off to the beach we go!

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Humiston Park is a very calm, clean beach area with lots to do. The sand is compact and soft. There is a park area for children to play and a really nice public restroom/shower area.

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The water was a cool 82 degrees, which is definitely a shock coming from the warm waters of the Gulf.

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As you can see, there is a lifeguard stand. They are open from 10am to 3pm. The flags flying that morning were red and purple – which meant only strong swimmers allowed in the water (red) and active marine life (purple).  There was plenty of active marine life. I chatted a bit with Tom the lifeguard about what happens in a normal day there and what to expect at the beaches in the Vero area.

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For one, no shells. A little bit south in Fort Pierce, there may be a few to find. But here in Vero, nada.

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Two, rip currents. Lots of them. So one must learn how to break the grip of the rip.

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Three, jellyfish and sharks. Lots of both. Both kept Queenie on the shore with only her feet getting wet. Me on the other hand? Come on now. You know I was all up in that.

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But there is great fun to be had in the water. I body surfed for quite a while and enjoyed getting beat up in the surf. The next day, my ears and muscles expressed their displeasure and reminded me that I’m not a teenager anymore. But boy was it fun! I have some video of it and perhaps it’ll end up on our Facebook page in a few days. We’ll see.

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Wish I’d have had a wake board like these guys. They were getting pretty good air along the shore.

So after a little while sunning and chatting up a couple of locals, we decided to check out the Farmer’s Market and then head North to check out this surf festival.

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The boardwalk is very slow and calm. It’s worth taking a day to appreciate the upscale store lined streets. The Farmer’s Market is open from 8am-1pm, every Saturday and has plenty of everything – from popcorn to pickles and fresh veggies to housewares.

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And I love Farmer’s Markets. But I wanted to see that surfing. So we hopped in the Shell mobile, hit A1A North and let the road carry us.

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Sebastian Inlet is about 15 miles North of Vero and wow is it gorgeous. Driving up the coast reminded me of the Pacific Coast Highway, with just the highway separating you from the water.

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It’s a pretty cool drive as well. but one thing to watch out for – CRABS.

You know how you get squirrels, armadillos, opossums and raccoons running across the road? Yeah, well on this road you get crabs.  (snicker)

I am not kidding. The Queen and I felt like we were stuck in a Mario Cart game since we were dodging so many of those little suckers. And I’m not talking little ghost crabs either. Heck no. Those things are as big as footballs and there are a lot of them. Quite a few times you could hear “HOLY…..look at  how huge that one is!”

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As I mentioned, Sebastian Inlet is just up A1A and is known as one of the top surfing spots in Florida.

The first annual Regular Joe Surfing Festival was going on, and I was real excited to check it out.

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It did not disappoint. First, the sand is much more soft and the water a clearer blue. Fifteen miles and such a difference between Vero and Sebastian.

The surf was a bit higher so we nestled in and checked out the show.

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Here is something frightening though – As we watched the riders catch their sets, we couldn’t help but notice the giant bait balls of mullet in the water behind the surfers. We watched as the waves would come in, carrying the massive bait ball with it. Due to the water clarity, we could see exactly what was in that bait ball and what was chasing the bait.  It looked like this:

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Not too difficult to tell what kind of fish is in there. Guess what else was in that bait ball?

These surfers must have brass ones, because they were just chilling in that bait ball. Occasionally we’d see a surfer pull his feet up onto his board. But most of them just didn’t seem to care.

I had to be a little adventurous myself, so I grabbed my mask and made my way up the shore a little bit to see what I could find. Nothing but a jelly fish sting on the eyebrow.

Again, nothing in the water (I didn’t go out too far), but I found a few pieces up higher.

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There are shells in Vero and Sebastian, but you won’t find them on the shore, my friends. You gotta go into the water to get them. Knowing what’s in that water, well it’s a risk. The inlet itself is a great fishing spot and even has a little restaurant (The Inlet Grill) under the bridge that serves great cheeseburgers and seafood. There’s a small lagoon-like beach as well if you want to swim but are afraid to get into the big water.

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So Vero and Sebastian were great spots. Vero is for a more mature crowd and Sebastian is definitely a shredneck surfer’s haven. It was worth taking three days to come explore. The people we met were extremely friendly and we felt like one of the locals there. Such beautiful water and lots to do and see….and very affordable as well.

So take the time to put these places on your calendar. We had a great time celebrating the Shell Queen’s birthday and got a good chance to see yet another of Florida’s stunning beaches.

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