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4 Fun Activities to Do With a Boat in Indian River County


4 Fun Activities to Do With a Boat in Indian River County


One of the best parts of living on the Treasure Coast is the easy accessibility to water. That is why this area has long been a draw for watersports enthusiasts, anglers, sport divers, and pleasure boaters. With the Indian River Lagoon, freshwater lakes, and the blue waters of the Atlantic, there are plenty of waterways to explore. Whether you own a boat or want to rent one for the day, here are a few popular ways to spend a day (or night) on the water. 

1. Sandbar Sunday Sunday

Just west of the Sebastian Inlet is a shallow water flat where boaters come from miles around to spend the afternoon floating in the crystal clear ocean waters flowing in to the Indian River. Some weekends, hundreds of boats in all sizes and shapes anchor around the sandbar as it’s always a happening place, especially on Sundays. Kids will enjoy searching for the abundant starfish and hermit crabs in the shallow water while the adults float around sipping on an ice cold beverage. There’s no better way to waste away the afternoon surrounded by fellow boaters enjoying Florida’s version of the French Riviera. 

2. Saint Sebastian River Cruise

For a taste of wild Florida and backwater adventure, take a cruise down the brackish waters of the Saint Sebastian River on the north end of Indian River County. This protected tributary of the lagoon hosts all types of wildlife in the water and along the shoreline. Shallow in spots, this waterway is best suited for smaller boats, or throw an anchor and launch a paddleboard or kayak to explore the smaller passageways. There is about 4 miles of the river accessible by motorboat but the further back you go, the more wildlife you will encounter including manatee, alligators, otters, and various species of waterbirds. For a map of the river and information about the adjacent preserve, click here. 

3. Explore Blue Cypress Lake

This natural 6500 acre freshwater lake located in the west part of Indian River County is a beautiful representation of untouched Florida. The tall Cypress swamps and tannin stained canals connecting the lake to other bodies of water provide hours of boating exploration and fun. Some of the largest alligators, snakes, and gamefish in the State call Blue Cypress home, making for a photographer and nature lover’s playground. 

Middleton's Fish Camp located on the west end of the lake by the boat ramp offers cabins, free primitive (tent) camping, kayak and boat rentals, a bait shop, ice, drinks and snacks. For a special treat, go out early in the morning to watch the sun rise over the Cypress trees and you’ll see exactly how the lake got it’s name. 

4. Spoil Island Camping

All along the middle of the Indian River Lagoon are man-made islands created when the channels were dredged decades ago. Today, boaters enjoy spending the day, or sometimes multiple nights, camped out on the shores of these tropical retreats. There are islands both big and small and some even have amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, docks, and primitive toilets. For those who choose to spend the night outdoors, the consistent breeze from the water keeps the heat and bugs at bay and the lack of any real pests on the islands provide a relatively comfortable camping experience. For more information on the spoil islands and which islands are suited for camping, click here. 

So, gas up the boat and get out on the water to soak in the true Florida lifestyle. Once you leave the dock, you will see why the Treasure Coast has so many boaters that use our waterways to escape from the daily grind. They don’t call this paradise for nothing!


5 Natural Wildlife Encounters in Indian River County


5 Natural Wildlife Encounters in Indian River County


Across the country, people flock to zoos and roadside animal parks to view the native creatures of Florida’s diverse ecosystems. We are lucky that in Indian River County, you can get up close and personal with most of them in their natural habitat! Here are few tips on how you can have real life encounters with wildlife right in our own backyard. 

1. Manatee Viewing

Manatee are the gentle giants of the sea. Curious by nature, they typically won’t shy away from close contact with humans. This is part of the reason why they are protected from those who take advantage of their curiosity.  

Many locals know you can watch the manatee enjoy the warm runoff water from the Vero Beach power plant, but there is another spot where you can get up close and personal. Manatee regularly visit Round Island Park off A1A just north of Hutchinson Island. Wade in the water by the walking bridge inside the park and you’ll likely encounter a nose or tail of one of these docile marine mammals rubbing against your legs. But remember, look but don’t touch. Otherwise, you may head home with a hefty fine as they are a protected species.

2. Environmental Learning Center Sanctuary

Did you know we have a full ecological park and resource center right here in our county? Except for teachers and students, many people have never visited the Environmental Learning Center located in Wabasso just under the causeway. This 64 acre sanctuary features several hands-on wildlife experiences including a touch tank and cell phone guided audio walking tour where if you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the otters that occupy the grounds at play. Geared for adults and kids, everyone is sure to learn something new about our lagoon and the animals that call it home. For more information available on the ELC website, click here

3. Sea Turtle Walks

During the summer months, hundreds of sea turtles make their way to our beaches to deposit their eggs in the sand. You have likely seen the protected nest areas outlined with stakes and orange tape. To catch a glimpse of this amazing natural wonder, check out the free guided turtle walks offered by the Sebastian Inlet State Park Fishing Museum: Reservations are required by calling the State Park at (772) 388-2750 from 10am to 4pm. The walks are conducted by State Park Rangers and are conducted Friday through Wednesday nights each week in July. So hurry, the turtle nesting season is almost over! 

4. Dolphin Watching

Really, there are so many places in Indian River County to see dolphins playing in the Indian River Lagoon. One of my favorites is around the Vero Beach City Marina. I’ll launch my kayak and cruise around the deep water channels and mangrove islands waiting to hear the telltale puff of air from the dolphin’s blowhole. Many times, these graceful creatures will come within feet of the boat offering an up close and personal view. So, rent a kayak or paddleboard and spend a morning or evening with these gentle creatures of the sea.  

5. Airboat Tours

What better way to experience the Florida swamps and marshes than from the deck of a boat powered by a jet engine? In an airboat, you can hover in inches of water or even fly over a grass bed at 20 miles an hour. On your backwoods adventure, you’ll see all kinds of Florida wildlife like alligators, snakes, Osprey, bullfrogs, Egrets, wild hogs, and sometimes the rare bobcat sighting, all from the comfort of cushioned seats a few feet above the sturdy metal deck. Here are a few links to airboat tour operators in the Vero Beach area that will get you right in the middle of the action. 


If you’re a local, don’t take these experiences for granted. Get out and enjoy all that Florida wildlife has to offer! If you are visiting the area, think of the stories and pictures you’ll get to share with people back home! Just remember, respect the ecosystems so future generations can enjoy it as much as we do. 

The Treasure That Lies Beneath


The Treasure That Lies Beneath



We see “The Treasure Coast” name seemingly everywhere we look throughout Indian RIver, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. It’s on shopping mall signs, business names, publications, websites, events, etc…Recently, I discovered the name was actually given to the area by the founders of the Press-Journal newspaper, John J. Schumann Jr. and Harry J. Schultz, after shipwreck salvagers began recovering valuable treasure pieces from just off the coast in the 1960’s. 

The history of ships and lives lost along our shoreline is actually quite unfortunate, but still fascinating. Likely, the first thing people think of when they hear about “shipwrecks” and “lost treasure” is rum-soaked, swashbuckling pirates taking over old wooden ships with cannonballs and swords. You probably picture a scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World. Interestingly though, some of the most famous (and infamous) wrecks frequented by local divers and fishermen found their final resting place at the bottom of the ocean more recently than you would expect, and not all were carrying chests of gold doubloons. 

One that is actually visible at an extreme low tide from the end of Beachland Blvd on Vero Beach is the wreck of the Breconshire, or the Boiler Wreck as some locals call it. The British steamship was a 300 foot iron screw steam and sail powered ship that carried cargo from England to various ports all over the world. After setting sail in 1894 from New York to pick up a shipment of goods in Tampa, due to missing navigational charts for the area south of Cape Canaveral, the ship hit the coral reef tearing a hole on the hull, and down she went. Fortunately, the entire crew survived by swimming the short distance to shore. 

Although years ago you could actually see the bow of the ship sticking out from the surface of the ocean, now the location is spotted by the American flag placed by locals on a pole flying just above the wreck. Snorkelers and divers still visit the site regularly but if you’re not the adventurous type but still want the experience, here is a link to a YouTube video of a recent dive on the wreck. 

Click here to view dive wreck video

Although the Breconshire is the most accessible to both divers and snorkelers, our relatively shallow Atlantic waters caused numerous shipwrecks dating from the time of Spanish Galleon ships to as recently as intentional sinkings in the 1980’s creating artificial offshore reefs. If you’re interested in our local history, you can learn more by viewing exhibits of some of the treasure recovered from Florida’s coast by visiting Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum in Sebastian. Many locals admit they have never been there, but it really is a great way to spend an afternoon learning how Florida’s coast produced some of the world’s most valuable treasure finds. Click below to learn more about this local historical destination. 


What's in a Name? Maybe 50 Bucks!


What's in a Name? Maybe 50 Bucks!


I am currently working with a seller on a property that is truly unique. This lakefront retreat located just west of town is owned by Australian musician and former cricket player, Rob Kenna. Rob has spent the last several years restoring and improving the grounds adding beautiful tropical plants and pathways that look like they were transported directly from McKee Botanical Gardens. 

Rob takes pride in the fact that many of the improvements were made using recycled or repurposed materials. He said of his treasure hunting, “It’s amazing what people will throw away!” Looking at the meticulous landscape, you would never know this was an eco-friendly project. It looks like it was designed and created by a professional landscape architect. 

Ron also transformed the bungalow style house into a tropical oasis that could be equally at home in downtown Key West. He converted the detached garage into the ultimate man cave, surrounded by windows with radiant light streaming in. The room contains musical instruments, rugby posters, original artwork and a bar, to boot.  Rob spends many of his days out there composing music as he looks over his piano onto the serene lake just outside the window.
There is one thing about this property that doesn't quite fit though....the name

Granted, there is a sign out front that announces entry into “The Lake House”, but that doesn’t do the property justice. This home has a unique spirit, a soul you might say. It is so much more than "just a lake house" So, what should we call this rare, soulful piece of Vero Beach geography? Well, that's where you come in as readers of my blog. 

Name this house! Go ahead, get your creative juices flowing and share this with your friends. Let's see what we can come up with and have some fun.  We need a name that captures all the personality of the house, the gardens, and the surroundings, not to mention the love, time and sweat that Rob has put into the place over the last six years. 

Take a look at the pictures in the gallery below and give us your best idea in the comments section of this blog page.  To sweeten the deal, I will offer a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate for the entry that Rob and I feel best describes this slice of paradise.  Ok, have at it...I can't wait to see your responses!







4 Things You Sacrifice When Moving to Vero Beach


4 Things You Sacrifice When Moving to Vero Beach


I once heard someone say, “People from Boca Raton will always make sure you know they live in Boca. People from Vero Beach don’t care if you know where they live.” 

After living in South Florida for a short time, the difference in attitude and demeanor of a town just a few hours north on I-95, seems worlds apart. It’s no wonder why over the last decade, we have seen a mass exodus from counties to the south of those seeking the easy-going, simpler lifestyle Vero Beach has to offer. The people who live in Vero know this area is truly a hidden gem. It’s almost as if we’re all part of a secret society in charge of safe-guarding the advantages of living in the Gateway to the Tropics. 

Therefore, instead of telling everyone the juicy secrets (no citrus pun intended) held so close to the vest of Vero residents, I’m going to reveal four lifestyle aspects you will have to sacrifice by moving here from another Florida metropolitan area. 

1. Traffic

Live in Indian River County for a few years, and you will eventually get frustrated if you have to sit through just one cycle at a red light. Having lived in New York, Atlanta, and South Florida, many times I take for granted the ease of flow in our local traffic. City and County planners have been fairly proactive in constructing major thoroughfares in preparation for our County's growth. The result is less stress and more time to live that laid-back Florida lifestyle.

2. High-Rise Buildings

Due to local zoning regulations, new construction of high-rise buildings is prohibited on the beach and riverfront throughout the County. If you’ve driven any stretch of A1A in South Florida or the vacation destinations of the Daytona and Clearwater Beach areas, its hard to soak up any rays in the shadow of the 30 and 40 story high rise hotels and condos. Many stretches of seaside land in Vero Beach and Sebastian look as they did hundreds of years ago when the Spanish discovered our white sand beaches. 

3. Tourist Business

Yes, we have our share of visitors, but most are here because they have either a family or friend connection to the area. Vero Beach doesn’t have amusement parks, broad beaches you can drive on, or a slew of hotel accommodations. For most, Indian River County is not a premier destination for vacationers. Plus, you won’t see any of the cheesy souvenir and gift shops on every corner as seen in other tourist beach towns. Our beaches are rarely overcrowded and on many weekdays, you may be the only one with a towel and umbrella for hundreds of yards. 

4. Cosmopolitan Attitude

One of the biggest differences I immediately noticed after moving here was the lack of snootiness and arrogance. Granted, there are always those who feel a greater sense of self-importance than others, but it is an extremely small fraction of the population here. Most Vero residents greet each other with pleasantries and are genuinely happy to socialize in any setting. Take a stroll down Ocean Drive on a weekend evening and it will be hard to find anyone dressed like they just stepped off a haute couture runway in Paris. Most are in shorts, a golf shirt, and boat shoes...and are genuinely content with their casualness. Generally, pretentiousness is not a part of the overall Vero Beach character. 

So, if you decide to make a move to our little seaside town, prepare yourself for the social and lifestyle changes. However, I can guarantee you'll never look back. I haven't heard anyone say they regretted moving here yet and you'll see why when you get here. 


A Simple Fix


A Simple Fix


A few weekends back while playing tennis with some friends, I slipped on the court and hurt my ankle.  An early Monday moring doctor appointment confirmed it, I had a fracture.  I have never broken a bone before, so this was all very new to me. 

I have always considered myself an active person.  I love the outdoors and participating in sporty activities. Those who know me may even say I go ninety miles an hour in my professional and personal life. Somehow though, as I drag this boot around (which might as well be a concrete marker bouy) and ask to catch rides from friends an colleagues, I suddenly felt...exposed. However, I knew exactly how to adjust that mindset. I called Angela King at Indian River Acupuncture.

I know, I sense the sarcastic eye rolls from some of you transmitting through the computer screen but let me tell you this woman is a shaman.  I use my acupuncture time with Angela for physical healing and a technique call N.E.T to adjust the mindset.  Neuro Emotional Technique, or N.E.T., is a mind-body technique that utilizes a methodology of finding and removing neurological imbalances related to the physiology of unresolved stress.  What better way to address my new challenge than to go and visit my favorite healer?  

Over the last few years, I have discovered laser focus in my professional life. Also, I am happier and healthier now than I have ever been.  I attribute that to the work of Angela King and her amazing talent. This stuff really works. 

Look, I get it.  Some of you are thinking this is another half baked Eastern medicine knock-off.  I was just as skeptical at first.  If it hadn't been for a colleague swearing by her success with N.E.T. in thier own life, I would have written it off too.  Angela will be first to tell you, its not for everyone.  But if you try it, you just may find that it can unleash incredible opportunities in your life you never thought you could achieve.  It can also help you get your head back in the game when life, or a foot fracture, gets in the way!

Selling Paradise


Selling Paradise



I have always been in sales. Early in my career, I worked for two major National corporations, the Quaker Oats Company and Keebler Company.  Basically, I sold a lot of oatmeal and crackers to National chain restaurants. Although I was very successful and there were aspects of those jobs that I liked, the travel, the company car, the expense account, I didn’t feel like it was my true calling. 

When I got married, had children, and relocated to Florida, I decided to take some time off to be with my young son. It was a great life! I took him to pre-school every morning in my convertible, our hair blowing in the wind. Many times, I thought, "This is it…this is the life."

However, once you are bitten by the sales bug and you experience the thrill of the hunt, the negotiation, the excitement of closing a hard fought deal, it’s hard to stay away for too long. When my son entered elementary school, I knew it was time to get back in the game. I think it goes without saying that Vero Beach is not exactly the mecca of large corporate sales so I had to figure out how I could live here and sell for a living, yet still feel fulfilled. 

I have always loved real estate. In buying my own homes, I enjoyed searching, finding, negotiating, and closing. I had a feeling that selling real estate would be challenging enough and it seemed like an obvious solution given the new found love I had for this community. So, I became a REALTOR®. I've never looked back. 

Since then, many people who know the love I have for my profession asked when I realized real estate is what I was meant to do. The funny thing is, I don’t believe there is one single transaction that confirmed that for me. It is likely a collection of experiences. 

Was it when I watched my client instantly fall in love with a beautiful riverfront condo where you could see dolphins frolicking and sailboats swaying in the lagoon outside the picture window? Or, was it the time where I helped a client coordinate the details of a move because her husband was having open heart surgery on move in day? Maybe it was finding a home on the beach for two adorable grandparents that wanted to be within walking distance of their children and grandchildren. Although, it could have been that buyer that visited my website regularly for almost a year to search for homes but always turned down my offers of assistance. Out of the blue, he calls saying he is ready to buy and we find the home of his dreams a few days later.

Actually, I am not sure exactly when it happened. However, I do know as I drive around this amazing seaside town each and every day how lucky I am to live in paradise and sell paradise to others. I don’t know, that sounds like fulfillment to me.


If only the walls could talk


If only the walls could talk


As a REALTOR®, every house I sell is special in its own way. Although every now and then, I get the opportunity to market a home that is full of character and history. Recently, I listed a one of a kind completely renovated home in Vero Beach that is the oldest house still standing in the area. Built in 1925, this storied property has seen its share of Vero’s best, and worst, over the last several decades. 

Said to be built by Indian River County pioneer Henry Gifford and his wife Sarah (she being the one who is credited with naming Vero Beach) this beautiful home in the center of Vero was run as a bed and breakfast throughout the early 1930’s. Guests traveling through this sleepy seaside town would stop in for rest and relaxation. However, due to one distinctive feature of the home that nearly every other home in Florida lacks, a basement, this house also became a locale for rebel rousing and refreshment of a different sort during prohibition. 

A speak-easy apparently called Bluebird Caverns, as indicated by the paintings on the walls of the basement still in place today, booze smugglers would haul their bounty by boat from the river up the canal behind the house. These shady characters would carry the cases of spirits through a tunnel connecting the canal to the basement entrance. Now filled in with bricks, the tunnel is still evident to this day. A decade later during World War II, sailors stationed nearby would come to party in the basement of the house as it is rumored the speakeasy converted to a house of ill repute a few years later. Legend has it that the operation was run by none other than Al Capone’s cousin. Many people are unaware that Vero actually has a rich (no pun intended) history in gang enterprise and organized crime.

Since the days of its famous, and sometimes infamous heritage, this home has been utilized as a single family home, church, doctor’s office, and a halfway house for women recovering from addiction. After it was destroyed in the hurricanes of 2004, many people wanted the home destroyed and bulldozed to make way for new development. The fire department wanted to buy the property to use as a fire training facility. However, former owner Ralph Riley stepped in and preserved this historical landmark and returned the home to its former glory. He was presented the Live Oak Award from the mayor for his reconstructive efforts. Now affectionately called “Big Pink”, the interior of the home currently reflects a modern twist on a classic style as you will see from the pictures in the gallery at the top of this post. 

The history of Vero Beach is truly intriguing and I urge you to learn more about the story of how “The Gateway to the Tropics” was born. To read more about the families that pioneered the area and their contribution to our hometown legacy, below are a few links to some great resources. When you read through these materials, you will notice many names of streets, parks, and businesses we use and enjoy each day. 



   The back of the House 

  The Entrance

 The Veranda




Endless Summer


Endless Summer



I don’t think it is any secret, especially to those who have been reading my blog, that I love the ocean. I am also an adventurer at heart and I love to try new things. When these activities involve my family, it makes the experience all the more memorable. Recently, I came across an advertisement offering surfing lessons at half off the regular price. Granted, I had never been on a surfboard in my life and I'm not as young as I used to be. However, I believe you are never too old to try new things and I’ve always thought surfing would be another great way to enjoy the ocean, and time with my son. So, I decided to give the surf instructor a call. 

After a few brief negotiations, the man on the other end of the phone agreed to give lessons to me and my son on the same day as part of the deal. This amiable man and I chatted about life and surfing for a short while (more life than surfing) and he seemed to be the real deal. So, we made arrangements to meet at the North Jetty of the Ft. Pierce inlet where the lessons would take place. This surfing locale is known for smaller, gentler surf with very long rides, perfect for beginners like me and my son. 

It was especially warm on that summer day. As we stepped onto the scorching sand, we noticed an older gentleman sitting under a striped umbrella nearby. He overheard us talking about the “surf coach” we were looking for and said with an oversized gleaming white smile, “Well…thats me!”

Coach Mills stood from his beach chair looking tan, fit and trim; as a lifelong surfer should be. He shook our hands and asked if we were ready. Despite my trepidation and complete lack of experience, he made me feel comfortable as we listened to his instruction and tried out the surf boards on the sand. After a brief safety overview, we entered the water, boards tucked under our arms. Of course, my son was a natural, standing and riding waves to the shore after a couple of tries. 

It was my turn. After a few missed waves and some acrobatic falls, I watched as a nice slow roller headed in from the horizon. I paddled just as Coach Mills showed me. When I felt the ocean ease the strain of my flailing arms, I popped up to my feet. I did it! I was surfing! I looked over and my son was standing on his board a few yards away on the same wave. This moment, the crystal clear water, balmy sun, Coach Mills’ cheerful smile, and my amazing son’s look of pure joy as we surfed together for the first time; will forever be scorched into my memory.

***If you want to daydream about riding the waves from your office chair...check out the Ft. Pierce Surf Cam here. Click Link

Mother Nature's Perfect Venue


Mother Nature's Perfect Venue


Did you know in Indian River County, we have twelve beach accesses ranging as far north as Sebastian Inlet and south to Round Island Park? The best part is they are all FREE! Many of my clients move here from the Northeast where getting to the beach is an adventure in itself. They tell me by the time you actually find parking spot, pay the access fees, and trudge through hundreds of yards of sand to find a postage stamp sized spot for your towel, all hopes of relaxing and unwinding are long gone. 

Even compared to the tourist trap beaches to our north, south, and west, the beaches in our area are relatively underutilized…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So, other than enjoying the usual four S’s at the beach…surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, the beaches here also offer a destination venue for some thrilling events. Here are few to consider next time you are looking for something to do oceanside. 


Rocket Launches

I had the privilege of witnessing the final shuttle launch with some close friends at the beach. Standing there gazing upon the final chapter of a historic program was definitely bitter sweet. However, even with the dissolution of the Space Shuttle program, Cape Canaveral is still actively propelling objects into orbit on a regular basis. You would probably be surprised at the number of launches that take place that never hear about. As anyone who has witnessed a rocket launch from the beach can attest, the unobstructed view of booster flames and wispy vapor trails is truly awe-inspiring. On a clear day, you can follow the spacecraft’s trajectory until it disappears into the stratosphere but a night launch is especially magnificent as the entire sky lights up with rocket glow. So, don’t miss out on this man-made spectacle of the Florida East coast. Click this link to see a schedule of upcoming launches. 



Triathlons and Races


Throughout the year, our sandy shores play host to hundreds of athletes competing in various sporting contests and races. One highlight is an event in which I have personally participated, the LLS Conquistadores Triathlon. Consisting of a quarter mile ocean swim, 12 mile bike ride, and a 5K run at the end, the center of activity for this challenging course presents one of the best sporting spectator venues around. This particular sprint triathlon also happens to benefit an important organization, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, working to fight blood cancers all over the world. This race, and cause, carries a special significance for me as my Father is a Lymphoma survivor. For more information on the 2015 Conquistadors contest, as well as a calendar of other beach races, click this link. 


Even if you aren’t athletically inclined, watching one of these events from the sidelines can still be a blast! I can tell you from personal experience that nothing distracts you from the lactic acid induced pain of endurance racing like hearing an encouraging cheer from one of the spectators or chuckling at a witty sign like some of the ones shown here...



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