Guest writer shares her experiences in the saddle and beyond in St. Lucie County, Florida:
“Great weather, horses, and a beach — it just doesn’t get any better than that,” said Allen Hayes, owner of Horseback on the Beach. He was right. The excursion that took us along the water’s edge on Hutchinson Island, Florida felt like a scene right out of a movie with a cool ocean breeze, turquoise water and the most good-natured horses imaginable – several ridden without a bit.
The beach was virtually empty except for us and I assumed it was private.
It wasn’t. It’s one of St. Lucie County’s 21 miles of beach that are more popular with sea turtles than crowds.
Hayes grew up ranching and passed on his love of horses to his daughters who “were riding before they could walk”. They now also work at the family-run tour company. Although they do excursions of all kinds, it’s the 90-minute beach tour that is the most popular.
Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce is one of the few places in Florida that permits horseback riding on the beach (riders can also bring their own horses if they purchase a permit from the county). The romantic setting is especially popular for engagements and they see a lot of them.
“Nobody has said ‘no’ yet,” said Hayes.
For our group of Canadians it was a definite highlight of our visit to Florida’s ‘Treasure Coast’, which is located on the state’s mid-eastern coast and encompasses Martin and Indian River Counties as well as St. Lucie.
Other nearby attractions nature lovers can enjoy are the 11,000 acres of parks and preserves, and eco-sites such as the Manatee Observation Center, Great Florida Birding Trail and the Oxbow Eco-Center.
Hungry after all that activity? Head over to the seaside fishing village of Fort Pierce, where you’ll find several restaurants that showcase the turquoise water of the River Lagoon. We stopped in at On the Edge and found the atmosphere of this open-air thatched eatery as good as its fresh seafood.
During our time in St. Lucie, we stayed at the Club Med Sandpiper, which is a destination in and of itself with its full roster of activities that includes everything from flying trapeze and circus school to more tradition leisure pursuits of tennis and golf. This all-inclusive resort is especially known for its food and entertainment.
If you go: Beach Tours on Horseback excursions begin at the Fredrick Douglass Memorial Park on South Hutchinson Island at 3800 South Ocean Drive in Fort Pierce.
Jennifer Merrick is a Toronto-based freelancer with a passion for travel; her stories have appeared in 25+ online and print outlets.
Follow her online at jennifermerrick.com or on twitter @jenmerrick. You can contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out more beach-side riding in Amelia Island, Florida: The Great Horse Trilogy – Beach, Carriage and Boat Tours and more guest articles Guest Post: Horseback riding in the Turks and Caicos Islands by Michele Peterson