Bridge Road is the grand entrance to Jupiter Island. Motorists are often surprised by the beauty of this two-lane road, cocooned by ancient banyan trees. The roots of the aerial props wrap around the trunks of these huge, layered trees, resulting in a design that only Mother Nature could create. Above, the branches form a tunnel-like canopy, making the ride almost mystical. In fact, people have been known to drive Bridge Road, just to turn around at the Hobe Sound Beach parking lot, and repeat the experience, snapping photos the second time around.
Jupiter Island, a slice of heaven north of Palm Beach, has some of Florida’s most expensive real estate: Tiger Woods and Celine Dion have called it home. Upon arrival, you’ll find the cozy Hobe Sound Beach Park, with lifeguards and dog-friendly stretches. Its wide coastline, lined with Florida scrub and golden sunflowers, is ideal for a stroll or a dip in the Atlantic. From there, Beach Road runs through the low-key and sophisticated neighborhood of Barrier Island. Drive south and the white tile roofs of multimillion-dollar beachfront properties can be seen behind walls of shapely sea grapes and manicured ficus hedges with splashes of pink petunias. Cyclists love this route. If you also want to cruise Jupiter Island on two wheels, visit Village Bike in downtown Hobe Sound, where you can rent a beach cruiser or electric bike and join the regulars.
Continuing on Beach Road, you will come to Blowing Rocks Preserve. This lesser-known natural treasure is home to the largest outcrop of Anastasia limestone found on the Atlantic coast. Composed of fossils, sand and fragments of shells and corals, the limestone stretches from Boca Raton north to St. Augustine, but is usually found underground or underwater. However, on the island of Jupiter, the jagged rock is exposed. Wind and waves carved burrows, chimneys, shelves and vents into the now steep shoreline. For a spectacular sight, visit at high tide when the seas are rough and the waves crash against the rocks, forcing plumes of salt water up to 50 feet skyward in a spectacular display of nature’s power. Hike the beach to the outcrop, then hike the Beach Dune Trail under a shaded tangle of sea grape branches. On the Indian River Lagoon side of the park, you can explore the mangroves.
For shopping, dining and art, head to downtown Hobe Sound. A self-guided tour — by car, on foot, or by bike — of the city’s murals is a fun way to experience this laid-back neighborhood. Area artists painted 23 exterior walls with beach scenes, Old Florida landscapes, local birds and more. Maps to guide your exploration are available at the Chamber of Commerce.
As you stroll, you’ll stumble upon independent boutiques such as Lavish Pineapple, which is full of nautical-inspired home decor items, and Juno Shoe Girl Boutique, where studded flip-flops and colorful resort wear fill the shelves. Among the newest restaurants to open is Hobe Sound Social & Coffee, a friendly hangout opened by Orlandoan Jenny Doria. On Main Street, the Taylor Beach House Café serves cocktails around a fire pit, and patrons enjoy chef Christopher Taylor’s coconut-crusted snapper to the sound of live music.
TO STAY ON
On the coast, right on the Atlantic, is the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa. Flanked by undeveloped beaches, the upscale property offers stunning water views. Open the door to an oceanfront room on the 5th floor and you’ll be greeted by sky, waves and water creating the illusion that you could be walking straight into the sea. The Atlantic roars 24/7 /7 and, like soft background music, immerses you in a holiday mood. Sit on the balcony, soak it all up and watch the surfers ride the waves.
Indulging in seafood is a must when visiting a coastal city. In the fishing village of Port Salerno, diners find casual waterfront dining at Manatee Pocket. The Twisted Tuna, with an open-air bar just steps from the fishing boats and dockside cornhole games, is a fun place to drink a cold beer. Seafood staples, from fish dip to conch fritters, are on the menu, and the Twisted Grouper Sub, a generous piece of fried fish topped with cheese and Calypso sauce, is big enough to share.
At the Fish House Art Center, Gail Kosowski works her pottery wheel and kiln to produce custom pottery in all shapes and sizes. In another studio, Elizabeth Kelly tends to a loom, creating original hand-woven “Salerno shoulder wraps” from brightly colored yarn. Nestled between the two, Jennifer Schilling displays her artistic vision of children’s clothing embellished with paint and shine. Once a working fish market, the old building tucked away in Port Salerno now houses studios and art galleries where local creativity thrives.