BOTE Ambassador Billy Swezey takes us to his hometown of Stuart, FL where the scenery is epic and the paddle boarding spots are even better!
Stuart hosts an endless amount of paddleboarding options for whatever discipline you are most interested in. There is some great fishing all throughout the bays and estuaries of Stuart. Tarpon, Snook, and Pompano are some favorite fights of local anglers. All along Hutchinson Island you can find beautiful beach breaks for SUP surfing or paddling in clear blue ocean water when the weather is calm and swell is down. There is quite a strong race/paddle training scene in the Stuart area year round, mostly based out of manatee pocket. Wildlife is abundant in this area where the St. Lucie River and Atlantic Ocean meet forming unique ecosystems and beautiful waterways.
Summer is by far the flattest calmest paddling season of the year but it comes with hot weather and daily afternoon rain showers. This is the season to explore the coral reef just offshore Hutchinson Island in the calm ocean. The Stuart area is pretty low-key in the summer without the snowbirds, so you will have most spots to yourself.
Fall and Spring are still nice and warm and relatively calm as long as no storms are passing through. The mullet run in the early fall can be an exciting thing to experience from a standup paddle board. Swell can be pumping in the ocean if there are any hurricanes offshore making it a favorite season for SUP surfers. Winter brings cycles of cold fronts with sometimes cold/strong winds. However, between fronts you can still enjoy warm 70-80 degree weather and calm conditions. There are still some hardcore paddlers paddling all through these cool conditions whether it is downwind training in the ocean, surfing some solid North swell, or trying to get the bite on when no one else is out in the Flats. If you mind the cold just be a little patient and you will have a nice window of paddling in the middle of winter.
Manatee pocket is a perfect all-around paddling area. You can always find shelter somewhere in the pocket. There are winding mangrove trails that connect, plenty of waterfront restaurants to take a quick break and grab a bite to eat, and you can usually find a family of manatees or a pod of dolphins to hang with for a bit. Flying Fish Paddle Sports has a great little dock to launch from and are fully loaded with any supplies you might need. They are super friendly to boot!
The Flats is a prime fishing spot for Pompano. Plenty of sandbars and deep channels in between to wander around in and is another great spot to see wildlife. Ospreys toting fish dinner, spotted eagle rays, dolphin, and manatee are common sites in this area. If you paddle a bit South on the Flats on a nice weekend day, you can find a crew of weekend warriors partying off their boats on the sandbar, s don't forget your cooler. If you are flexible, try to time your paddle with an incoming tide so you can look through the beautiful blue caribbean water that floods the bay.
If you are into surfing, Stuart Public Beach or Jensen beach a bit north, are great sports for some fun beach break waves. If the surf is flat these are some great spots to launch from to get out into the ocean.
If you are a strong paddler and you want a little more adventure, you can find "Hole in The Wall" inside Stuart Inlet and have some fun exploring pristine wildlife areas on your own. Beware the strong current on your way there, though!
Cove Rd. is another very popular launch spot on the sheltered intercostal waterway. There is a beautiful sandy launch spot with picnic tables to have lunch and hang out. Right across the waterway from Cove Rd is St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park where you can pull up your board and explore scenic trails throughout the Barrier Island. You can even walk to the ocean on the other side of the park and have a pristine beach all to yourself!
FlyingFishPaddleClub.com is the hub of training and can be a great resource if SUP racing is your scene or if you just want to learn some new paddling skills. Jupiter is close by and another big hub in standup paddling with great views and usually clear blue water. You can check out this super informative article if you are interested in paddling the Jupiter area http://tulasendlesssummer.com/paddleboarding-in-jupiter/
Remember to always wear your PFD, paddle with a buddy, and watch the weather when you are exploring the beautiful Stuart area!
Published on 2016-12-06 in Stories