State Of Emergency
Earlier this summer, we heard the enraging news of the latest Algae Bloom and subsequent State Of Emergency to hit our home away from home in Stuart, FL. This summer's bloom seems to be the largest in recent history and is wreaking havoc on the local beaches, tourist economy and wildlife. Check out these articles for more detailed information, but the Cliff's note version is this: Lake Okeechobee regularly has blue-green algae caused by nutrients and other elements of agricultural runoff. Due to heavy rains this winter, the lake was at high levels and the Army Corps of Engineers decided to release some of the lake water because they feared the dikes would fail and flood the towns neighboring the lake. So the lake water was released through channels, into the St. Lucie River and wound up in the Treasure Coast. There are health risks associated with the algae that affect both humans and wildlife. Activists have come out in force advocating for the purchase of the lands south of Okeechobee, where the lake water could be released and safely filtered through that ecosystem. Problem is, the land belongs to "Big Sugar" farms and, hence, a political mess ensues. In the meantime, tourists are canceling their trips to the area, local businesses are suffering and manatees are struggling to breath when they surface among the muck. The whole thing is complicated and heartbreaking.
We dedicate this post to our friends in Stuart and the surrounding area. Here are some of our favorite spots and things to do. We hope you'll visit and help support this awesome community aka "America's Happiest Seaside Town".
Our very favorite spot is the Kona Beach Cafe in Jensen. They have the BEST fish and shrimp tacos and absolutely dangerous bean and cheese fries. We also loved their pineapple fritters and Mahi sandwich, but we keep going back for the tacos. The restaurant is mainly outdoors, with varying degree of cover. The "backyard" has games: corn hole, ring toss and others that come and go. There's also live music and movie nights. Important note: they are closed on Mondays.
Our rule when if Florida is to always eat outside, beachside if possible. We love Shucker's on the Beach and Pietro's on the Ocean, both on Jensen Beach. Shucker's is a bit more casual and kid-friendly with a massive menu of fresh and fried seafood as well as pastas, burgers, sandwiches and salads. It's always fish sandwiches and tacos for us. Pietro's takes it up a notch with a smaller, more refined offering. J loves the grilled salmon salad and the Mann goes for the fish taco trio (of course) ... each taco is prepared with a different salsa.
While in the Jensen Beach area, check out the piers off the causeway. You can catch a beautiful sunset there. Or, pull over on the southbound side of A1A, and watch the sunset over Jupiter Inlet.
During our last visit, we finally made it to Riverwalk Cafe and Oyster Bar in Stuart Center. Riverwalk constantly rates high on Tripadvisor and has been on our list of places to try. While it did not have outdoor seating, we were there on a chilly day so we headed inside and had a beautiful meal. The Ahi Tuna Nachos were to-die-for.
Another great spot in Stuart Center is Sneaki Tiki. This location used to be the Key Lime Cafe which closed suddenly a few years ago. We've been waiting for the spot to reopen so we could go back and enjoy their tropical outdoor courtyard.
For something more upscale and very romantic, we recommend 18 Seminole for traditional Italian pastas, meats and fish. 18 Seminole is a carefully preserved, rustic bungalow that has been converted to a restaurant with a beautiful outdoor patio.
Like watching sailboats and sunsets during dinner? Check out Sailor's Return. Whether you arrive by land or by sea, you'll be impressed by the open air space and delicious food. (They have courtesy docking!!)
When we're in Stuart, the Mann heads to the beaches for sunrise. Sometimes I'll groggily roll out of bed and go with him and do my morning meditation on the beach.
Finally, our very first or very last stop while we're in Florida is Guanabanas in Jupiter which is halfway between Palm Beach Airport and Stuart. We've seen one of our favorite bands there totally by chance and have been hooked ever since. Check out their live entertainment and feast your eyes on the tropical decor, banyan and palm trees, the river alongside the open air dining area and the exotic cars at valet. Follow their Instagram account for a dose of paradise.
If you have the time, check out Blowing Rocks Preserve. While the rocks are no longer blowing, there is a beautiful path to the beach and a nature preserve and boardwalk across the street. Great for walking off a big lunch or working up an appetite for Guanabanas!
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