Different sections of Florida’s coastline have fun and colorful nicknames. For example, the coastline near historic St. Augustine is nicknamed the First Coast; the coastline near the NASA and USSF launch facilities is known as the Space Coast. But what part of Florida is the Treasure Coast?
The Treasure Coast is the section of Florida’s Atlantic coastline made up of Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin counties, roughly comprising the area between the greater Melbourne area and the greater Miami area. The Treasure Coast spans about 80 miles between the towns of Sebastian and Jupiter, Florida.
So why is it known as the Treasure Coast? Can you really find treasure there? What are the beaches along the Treasure Coast, and is it considered part of South Florida? You’ll discover all kinds of gems about the Treasure Coast in the following sections!
Florida’s Treasure Coast: Underrated Beauty
You probably think of the more popular places when you think of Florida. Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay often command the lion’s share of attention in Florida. But the Sunshine State is massive, and there are lots and lots of great, under-explored places that are well worth visiting. The Treasure Coast is one such place.
Spanning about 80 miles of coastline between Sebastian and Jupiter, the Treasure Coast is truly one of Florida’s hidden gems. The Treasure Coast offers all of the great amenities of the Sunshine State – balmy weather, gorgeous sandy beaches, and plenty of exciting things to do – without as much of the chaos and hubbub of major urban areas.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing to do on the Treasure Coast. One of the most popular Treasure Coast cities to visit is Vero Beach. Home to just about 20,000 people, Vero Beach, has a more relaxed vibe than major tourist cities. Yet, despite the relaxed ambiance, there’s plenty to do in Vero Beach. The city boasts excellent beaches, a botanical garden, the Vero Beach Museum of Art, the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, and a treasure museum.
If you prefer the resort experience, the Treasure Coast has what you’re looking for. Disney has a resort property on Vero Beach, which brings Disney’s legendary customer service expertise to the beach. Another notable Treasure Coast resort is the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, located in Jensen Beach, near Port St. Lucie.
You’ll find plenty of engaging activities along the Treasure Coast. However, one of the most unique experiences you’ll find is an airboat ride with Marsh Beast Airboat Tours. There, you’ll embark on an adventure into the wetlands on one of Florida’s most exciting vehicles: an airboat!
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, head to Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery and sample some Florida-grown wines. In addition, the vineyard frequently hosts events and often has food trucks on-site for hungry visitors.
Why is it Called the Treasure Coast?
Back in the 18th century, the Spanish empire spanned the globe. Far-flung explorers and conquerors gathered loot and treasure as they made their way around the world and sent much of these spoils back to Spain via treasure ships.
Unfortunately, in 1715, an ill-fated flotilla of eleven Spanish treasure ships was struck by a hurricane just off Florida’s Atlantic coast and subsequently sank into the briny deep. These ships were absolutely chock full of treasure. The amount of loot that the Spanish were bringing home is mind-boggling.
For years and years after the sinking of the treasure fleet, odds and ends washed ashore in the tide. Today, in modern times, divers and salvage-ship operators are still finding gold coins and other loot on the ocean floor along the Treasure Coast.
The fact that treasure is still out there to be found today led writers at the Vero Beach Press Journal newspaper to coin the term “Treasure Coast” to describe the region in 1961. The name stuck and is now firmly part of Florida’s nomenclature.
Has Treasure Been Found on the Treasure Coast of Florida?
You can still find treasure along the Treasure Coast. People often bring metal detectors to the beach and find coins, precious metals, and artifacts from the treasure fleet. Coins can be worth serious money, so if you do find treasure, bring it to a trustworthy jeweler or antique dealer to determine its value.
What are the best ways to look for treasure? They say “X marks the spot,” but there is not a reliable treasure map to tell you where to look: the currents and waves of the ocean move the treasure around all the time.
However, if you are a scuba diver, you can charter dive boats all along the Treasure Coast and go out to shipwrecks or reefs to hunt for loot. If you’re not a scuba diver, you might still find treasure by snorkeling close to shore.
Phenomenal Florida Fun Fact: Vero Beach is the home of aircraft manufacturer Piper, whose airplanes continue to be hugely popular among pilots today. Airplane enthusiasts can even go on a tour of the factory.
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What Beaches are on the Treasure Coast of Florida?
There are plenty of great beaches along the Treasure Coast. Heading south from Sebastian on A1A, here are some of the beaches you’ll find:
- Sebastian Inlet State Park. Here, you can swim, fish, boat, and surf.
- Wabasso Beach. This county park in Vero Beach offers grills, pavilions, picnic facilities, restrooms, and an ADA-accessible ramp to the beach.
- Golden Sands Park. This beach park has playgrounds, restrooms, parking, and picnic facilities.
- Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. Home to a massive sea turtle refuge, this wildlife refuge is a great place to experience the wilder side of Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Pro Tip: Sea Turtles are protected by law. Do not touch, harass, shine lights on, move, feed, or otherwise annoy the sea turtles. These majestic creatures are best admired from a distance.
- Humiston Park. This park is one of the best-maintained and most popular parks in Vero Beach, and it is a great place to see the beautiful beaches of the Treasure Coast. If you go on Saturday, you can stroll through the nearby Farmer’s Market on your way to the beach. The park also has art shows and other public events throughout the year, which makes Humiston Park one of the best places to stop along the Treasure Coast.
- Avalon State Park. With more than a mile of unspoiled beach, Avalon is a beautiful place to enjoy a relaxing day on the beach. The site was used for amphibious warfare training during World War II, so divers and snorkelers often find interesting trinkets and tidbits underwater.
- Queens Island Park Beach. A little off the beaten path, this quiet and secluded beach is a great place to go if you want to soak up some sun and enjoy the peaceful vibes of the Atlantic coast.
- Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. Another of Florida’s fabulous state parks, this is a popular location with surfers, snorkelers, divers, and those who want to enjoy a simple day at the beach.
So put on some sandals and take a stroll to Dynamite Pointe, which was once a training location for World War II Navy “frogmen,” the predecessors of the legendary Navy SEALs.
Is the Treasure Coast Considered South Florida?
South Florida is classically considered the area encompassing Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. The Treasure Coast is considered to include Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. While these regions are adjacent, they’re not the same: technically speaking, the Treasure Coast is not considered South Florida.
Some definitions of the Treasure Coast include Palm Beach County. However, these regions are all loosely defined, and none are established by law. That said, most people would likely consider Palm Beach County to be much more “South Florida” than “Treasure Coast.”
Can You Find Gold on Treasure Coast Beaches?
You can find gold on Treasure Coast beaches! The sunken treasure fleet was carrying untold fortunes back to Spain, and experts believe a lot more treasure is still waiting to be unearthed. If you do find gold, it is likely to be in the form of a coin, although it is possible to find other things made of gold.
If you’re after gold, your best bet is probably to go on a scuba-diving expedition along the Treasure Coast. Divers can get up close and personal with the sea floor, shipwrecks, and reefs, which gives them an advantage when it comes to hunting for treasure.
If you don’t scuba-dive, snorkeling is a great way to hunt for treasure, although it does keep you closer to shore. You might consider going treasure-hunting after a storm, as the extra energy expended by the storm is likely to have stirred up the seafloor and may dislodge precious items, sending them careening toward the shoreline.
The Real Treasure…
You’re sure to have fun when you visit the Treasure Coast. Whether you want to relax on the beach, look for treasure, or enjoy a different kind of Florida from the hubbub of the cities, there’s something for everyone along the Treasure Coast.
Even if you don’t bring home an old Spanish coin or a fun relic from olden times, you’ll bring back memories to last a lifetime. But, of course, the real treasure of the Treasure Coast is the time you’ll spend in this fun and fascinating part of Florida.