Scenic park on the intracoastal waterway. Fishing and boating destination for many.
This is a great park with adequate bath facilities, many water view sites, good spacing and size of sites, and fishing and boating opportunities within the park. The park spans the man-made inlet connecting the Indian River to the Atlantic. The campground sits on the southern side on the corner of the inlet and the river, with some sites like ours looking out at both.
The park beach is a drive over the bridge from the campground. The beach has a long jetty used for fishing, bath facilities, and a restaurant. For non-fishing persons, the park may be lacking in activities, but the views and beach will still warrant a stay for most. And, it is just a 20 minute ride to Vero Beach and just over 30 to Melbourne, both with ample shopping and dining options. It is also 34 miles south on A1A from Cocoa Beach.
View of the inlet and the bridge on A1A from the entrance of the park.
This is the one campground we did not get a campsite photo, which is unfortunate because our site had the best view of any site we've had to the date.
Things to do at the Park.
Fishing. The primary reason people come to this park is to fish. A fisherman we met at the park said that last year people were pulling them in till their arms hurt, but this year the fish are gone. He said eople are speculating that the hurricane of last year wiped out the eel grass beds, removing the bait fish. I re-told this story to another camper/fisherman who said that made sense in that he heard the same thing about another area in Florida.
Surfing is also a big draw here, as it is considered one of the best – if the not the best – surfing spots on the east coast. We saw an ad for a world surfing competition to be held there a few weeks after we were to leave.
Due to the weather, one of our main activities at the park was watching the waves. There were several days in a row with winds of 20-30 mph making tremendous surf. Trying to weed down my photos was difficult. I think I took upwards of 150 wave photos.
There were two kids in the background trying to surf these conditions. They gave up real quick.
All these photos were taken from the jetty at Sebastian Inlet.
Despite the wind, a few brave souls were still fishing. This is the smaller jetty on the southern side of the inlet. The current was amazing through the inlet as shown in the foreground.
This gull seemed to hover in air due to the high wind on the jetty.
The sky looked ominous here, but not much rain during the day.
While having lunch at Sand on the Beach in Melbourne Beach we saw a wind surfer in what looked like hurricane conditions. Look for a future posting of a video of this nut.
Despite the strong current in the inlet, there is a cove on the north river side of the park suitable for wading. The beach on the north ocean side of the park.
The park office contains a little one room museum describing the history of the park and a history of the fishing in the area. It is worth stopping in and spending half an hour. I was amazed at the clam shells!
Thing to do Nearby.
We took a day trip to Vero Beach and walked along the shops on A1A. Later we crossed over the the Indian River to eat at The Kilted Mermaid, which was my choice due to good reviews, the menu that included small plates and fondues, and of course the name piqued my interest. The interior was as eclectic as the name sounded and sported some terrific art.
The Kilted Mermaid
I absolutely loved this large painting by the bar.
Gotta love it.
Some of the small plates include house made hummus, tuna crudo wontons, and duck empanadas! We had seared tuna on seaweed salad and ponzu drizzle. We had to get the Trio of Cheddars with Dark Ale fondue, because it was made with Cigar City Madura Brown Ale, which I loved on tap at Rising Tide in Port Canaveral. It was served with breads, fruit and vegetables. It was very good. We resisted the coaxing recommendation from the waiter for the chocolate fondue, but after seeing a table with, I really want to go back and start with the Dark Chocolate Rum Raisin fondue (with a touch of cayenne pepper)! Oh, it is served with fruit, cakes, brownies, marshmallows and “anything else we can come up with.” All in all, service, atmosphere, and food, I'd give The Kilted Mermaid a 4 star rating. Very Good.
In Melbourne Beach, we ate at Sand on the Beach. As the name implies it is on the beach, with nice views from the second story seating. Consider the food on the better side of beach casual.
A real surprise was Ocean 302 Bar & Grill! This is in a small strip mall as you approach the beach on A1A in Melbourne Beach. We were going to return to Sand on the Beach, but they were closed so in desperation we went with Ocean 302. Wow! Inside is an open floor contemporary and modern interior with many wooden high top tables. An open kitchen features seating for the “Chef's Corner” dining experience. Our waitress told us that this is booked far in advance, where the chef cooks for you and your guests with wine pairings. We had simple fare, fried green tomatoes and a pizza, but I do remember we thoroughly enjoyed the food and the fun as we were dining with our daughter Stephanie, who came to spend the week with us.
While at Sebastian, we also made a return trip to the old area of Melbourne village to show Stephanie and ate at Ole Fire Grill again. Still good. See the write up of Melbourne in our Jetty Park blog.
We also returned to Cocoa Beach area to show Stephanie some of our favorite spots from our Jetty Park trip, including dinners at Grills and Rising Tide, stops at Coconuts (for a photo), Cocoa Beach Pier, Manatee Sanctuary Park (for the sunset), Ron Jons (shopping), Lou's Blues (to see the old folks karaoke) and even stayed late one night to watch a night rocket launch from the park.
Steph and Sandy during sunset at Manatee Sanctuary Park
As good a photo as I could get of the night rocket launch.
Just to narrate our trip a little, we also did a little house hunting while here. The short run down on buying between Vero Beach and Cocoa, is that if you want to be near the beach, expect to not only pay a premium, but insurance is going to be an issue. Hurricane shutters are mandatory and double pane windows to keep insurance prices down. Most roofs in the areas have been replaced recently due to the storms last year.
We knew that inland we could get more house for the money so we looked at Palm Bay and Sebastian, the later still being the best deal. I also really like parts of Merritt Island. You can be near the intercostal with kayak access parks, and be near Cocoa Beach and all the restaurants, and still be in a quiet neighborhood.
We found an absolutely gorgeous house in a incredibly posh neighborhood in southwestern Palm Bay. This is a typical for the area modern style with high ceilings and posh kitchen and bath. The negative was that this is a large town and is really built up. It would be an hour's drive to the beach. For a little less money, we could get a house that had everything we wanted in Sebastian and be 30 minutes from the beaches at Vero Beach. To compare prices, we would be needing 20-30% more to get the same type house beachside.
That's all folks.