Windswept in Jupiter
This week I have had the privilege of visiting Jupiter Island, Florida and I must say it was quite a trip! For those unfamiliar with Jupiter Island it is a small planned community in Martin County. The island is home to the rich and famous but even better is its nature preserves. The lucky residents of the island get to spend their leisurely time in Blowing Rocks Preserve and the not too distant Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge.
Blowing Rocks Reserve
The Blowing Rocks Reserve is preserved by the Nature Conservancy. It is 72 acres of natural beauty beyond compare in Florida. The seashore itself is home to limestone. One of the largest stretches on the east coast. These beautiful rock formations are what gives the Reserve its name. After winter storms these rocks break the wave into plumes of oceanic foam. The wind blows across the hill cropping behind the shoreline scattering these plumes into a fog-like sea spray. It is quite a play put on by nature.
There is more to this preserve than just a little bit of rock. Many birds call this home. Seagulls graced the grey skies as a storm rolled over Jupiter during my visit. This is also home to a lot more marine life such as sea-turtles, crabs, urchins and more. There are areas for snorkeling and scuba diving here so you can get even closer.
The conservancy also supports a learning center and administration office here as well. Inside the center a few small exhibits educate with simple language and thoughtful photographs. There are also restroom facilities here. Tours are often given that begin here as well. There are no stores locally so bring what you might need in the form of drinks. Food and large sized coolers are not allowed on the beach. Fair warning as well: the parking around the first beach entrance to Blowing Rocks is a bit slim but there is more at the learning center. The Nature Conservancy does ask for a donation of $2 USD for non-members and $1 USD for members. Children under 12 are free.
The real attraction for me this trip had to be the breaking waves. Blowing Rocks certainly earned its name while I was there. I had no real plans for this location or even to come to this location. At first I had been a little disappointed that it was raining and stormy. When I arrived in the parking lot a light sprinkle had begun. I waited it out in the visitor’s center and gladly walked over and paid the $2 admission. As I walked down the sandy path to the beach I was entranced with the overgrown canopy around me. They even created a paved walkway to the beach access. Up the stairs I climbed and as I crested the boardwalk stairs I was awestruck.
Before me lain miles and miles of beautiful, dark brown sandy beach. Breaking the sand were rocks that at first seemed level with the ocean. That is until the waves came in. Giant white plumes of salted sea foam broke over the shore. I knew I had found a real treasure here! I stayed for hours photographing these amazing breakers. This is the first time I had ever seen them. When it was time to move on I approached the young but knowledgeable Conservancy worker. I asked her if there were any other sights like this and she suggest Hobe Sound. So off I went to my next destination.
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
The latter part of my journey focused on a small portion of this really large refuge. I followed the path to the sound itself which looked over to Jupiter Island. The water was surprisingly calm considering the storms around me. Pelicans flew about occasionally diving for food. A couple of friendly fisherman engaged in quiet conversation about life in Jupiter then they departed. I was alone on the white sandy beach of Hobe Sound. Nothing could be heard but nature and I enjoyed every second of it.
The refuge itself is giant as are most of them in Florida. There are multiple ecosystems represented but unfortunately I only visited the beach on this trip. I had come to late to see even the visitor center. While there I noticed like most of Florida’s refuges that I have visited the paths were well marked, mostly made of sand and some wood and not very wide. The impact on nature here is very, very low. Benches are provided throughout the paths and there is plenty of tree cover. There is a store in the visitor’s center so you can stock up there on supplies.
All in All
This trip was a complete success despite the weather conditions. I also did make a drive through trip of the island proper. There is so much to see here and so little time or access to do it. Jupiter is a small community that actually feels cut-off from the rest of the world. I have never experienced that feeling till the trip here. If you are planning a trip to Florida then Jupiter should definitely be on the list of places to visit.
Photos from visit