With the summer coming to an end, enjoying a weekend camping seemed like a great idea to have some family fun.
Our choice for a quick, weekend getaway? Sebastian Inlet State Park.
A search of floridastateparks.org introduced us to Sebastian Inlet and its amenities, such as beach access on the Treasure Coast and a dog-friendly campground; ingredients for an exciting weekend.
We wanted to discover new territory this trip, and Sebastian Inlet fit the bill, and with only a four-hour drive from home. Although the ride in an old Volkswagen bus always takes longer than any map source could estimate, the drive through Florida’s farmlands in the center of the state was quiet and pleasant.
Sebastian Inlet State Park is touted as being a premiere saltwater fishing spot in the state of Florida. It is also highly rated for surfing, and the park hosts a variety of surf competitions annually. While we were there the water was flat, but we still had fishing from the shore and the jetties, exploring, hiking, and many other activities. The wide variety of amenities and activities is one of the reasons we chose to camp at Sebastian Inlet.
The park covers both sides of the inlet. One side offers camping, a boat launch and museum while the other side is a popular a sandy cove for day visitors. Sebastian Inlet covers three miles of beach with jetties on either side of the inlet. There is hiking along the mile long Hammock Trail. The park’s concessionaire, BG’s Surfside Grill and Adventures has a marina, docks for rent, boat, kayak and paddle board rentals, and a variety of tours.
One very hot day, we chose to fish under the bridge as it offered us a bit of shade. We did not anticipate how swiftly the water moves through the inlet when the tides changed. The currents are very fast and could become dangerous if you’re caught unaware, even for boaters. Since our dog is a big lab, throwing a stick or ball in the water for him to fetch is commonplace, but once we saw the tide and how fast the water could move through the area, we halted games of fetch during tidal changes.
On Saturday we headed over to the Welcome Center where we had checked-in the evening before. Inside there is a small historic museum, one of two museums at the park. The Sebastian Fishing Museum is devoted to the history of Sebastian’s fishing industry. The museum honors three of Sebastian’s early fishing families: Sembler, Smith, and Judah. Inside you will find a replica of an original fish house and dock. On display are a homemade fishing boat, nets, fishing gear, and photos of fishing in the lagoon. Turtle skulls of varying sizes are also displayed at the museum.
We did not get a chance to visit the second museum, the McLarty Treasure Museum. The museum is located on a survivors’ camp of the wrecked 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet. It features artifacts, exhibits, and an observation deck that overlooks the ocean. The movie, “The Queen’s Jewels and the 1715 Fleet,” tells how the ill-fated fleet was returning to Spain when a hurricane struck them off the Florida coast. In retrospect, I wish we hadn’t missed this museum!
We did a bit of fishing from the pier Saturday night where several young men were catching what they claimed to be mullet. I don’t know what they were using for bait, but we didn’t have the same luck. Exploring the same area during the day, we saw a fleck of rays swim by and it was fun to look up what a group of rays was called.
The campsite was great, with a nice water view. Overall, the camping area was clean and the facilities, with hot water showers and big commercial washers and dryers, were appreciated. The no-see-ums were bad, and after using lots of spray to no avail, I tried a different brand, which worked better (Off! Deep Woods vs. Cutter).
During our final evening at Sebastian Inlet we cooked a steak dinner on the grill with corn on the cob and stuffed baked potatoes. We enjoyed watching the sunset and conversing with family around the campfire.
When we awoke the next morning, I saw a camper walking his dog by our site shaking his head. Oh my! We had been raided! Every passerby knew we were the dummies who had not secured their food or we were total pigs and didn’t deserve to be in any state park!
All food items were gone completely, with empty wrappers littering the ground. Critters (raccoons most likely) had raided the campsite during the night, including opening the cooler and getting in the garbage. Garbage was strewn everywhere. An entire package of bacon- gone; cheese-gone; eggs-gone; sour cream-gone; butter-gone; sandwiches-gone; potato chips-gone; and much more. Embarrassed, we quickly cleaned up the mess and swore we would never forget to secure our food again. You would think we had never done this before!
To make camping reservations online at Sebastian Inlet or any Florida State Park, go to reserveamerica.com. If you find popular parks appear completely booked, call the park directly. They often have openings not shown on Reserve America.
Two things we learned this trip: Secure your food like you have always been told (I didn’t listen to my mother growing up either), and call the park directly if it appears completely booked online!
Sebastian Inlet State Park is located at 9700 South Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach, Florida. For more information call 321-984-4852.