A Relaxing Boat Ride On The St. Lucie River
Getting To Port St. Lucie
The trip up Interstate 95, from West Palm Beach, to our friends, Bob and Diane's home in Port St. Lucie, took about one hour. Interstate 95 is the main north south, toll free highway in South Florida. Normally, I try to stay away from this highway, mainly because, every driver on this roadway, thinks they are on the Daytona International Speedway. It's a beautiful roadway, the most convenient and direct route to our destination. But, it can be very scary at times. Thankfully, we arrived at our friends home safely, and in good time. They live in a beautifully landscaped, gated community, not far from I 95. Being gracious hosts, they insisted that we leave our car at their home. Later, we all hopped into their SUV for the short trip to Veterans Memorial Park at Rivergate, on the banks of the St. Lucie River. That's where we were scheduled to meet our hired boat and Captain. With time to spare, and figuring that we could be on the water for at about 3 hours, we decided to have lunch at a cozy little restaurant, just across the river from the boat dock. After about an hour, we headed back to the boat dock, relaxed, satiated, and ready for our riverboat ride.
Our Boat and Captain
Back at the dock, we met our boat and Captain. The boat, a comfortable 35 foot pontoon type vessel with a covered top, and rows of bench like seats on either side of a center isle. There were 360 views, allowing our eyes to wonder in every direction. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, with our affable Captain, he informed us he was awaiting confirmation from from another patron who had also booked the tour. Five minutes later we were pulling away from the dock. Our Captain had received word, that the other patron would not be making the trip. Selfishly, but, in quiet, we rejoiced, knowing that our party of four would have the boat to ourselves. Our narrated cruise on the St. Lucie River had begun.
About The St Lucie River
The St. Lucie River is one of South Florida's numerous waterways; The area boasts many rivers, the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, and numerous lakes. The St. Lucie River is an 7 mile estuary, in St. Lucie and Martin Counties, in the state of Florida. For those who are not familiar with constitutes an estuary. It is a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water, with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and is connected with the open sea. The North fork of the St. Lucie River, flow south from St. Lucie into Martin County, where it joins the North flowing South Fork, formerly know as the Halpatiokee River (meaning 'alligator water'). Frankly, I was very surprised at how big and wide this river is. I brought back memories of my prior boat rides on Circle Line, around Manhattan, on the Hudson and East Rivers. Some areas of this river seemed as wide as the Hudson, to me. It is definitely and large impressive body of water, that at certain points branch out in different directions.
Plants, Birds, Even James Bond
As our boat cruised along the calm river, we enjoyed the breathtaking views, and the narration of our knowledgeable Captain, who kept us informed of what we were seeing, the types of plants, various birds, areas of historical significance on the river. We were somewhat disappointed, we did not see any Alligators on our ride. At one point, a private boater, going in the opposite direction informed our Captain that there was a Manatee (Sea Cow) a few yard up ahead. However, by the time we got there, the Manatee was no where in sight. Bummer!
Fortunately, there were no shortage of birds. We saw, Ospreys, Great Herons, Little Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, Egrets, Ibises. In one backwater area of the river, our Captain pointed out a bird sanctuary, a small island habitat, literally covered with thousands of native wetland birds of all types, colors, and sizes. It was fascinating.
The plant life in the St. Lucie River ecosystem was abundant and very interesting, as well. We saw, White Mangroves, Red Mangroves, Red Maples, Pond Apples, Water Hickory. Not surprising, there was also an abundance of Bromeliads, Ferns, and Orchids, which seem to thrive, on the large trees in this wetland area.
Being movie fans, we were thrilled when our Captain also pointed out the location where the 'Amazon' boat chase scene, in the 1979 James Bond Movie - Moonraker, was filmed.
I actually went back and watched a clip of the Amazon boat chase scene in Moonraker, and was also able to identify the location. Our Captain was spot on.
Multimillion Dollar Riverfront Homes
As if to match the grandeur, and magnificence of the river landscape, some areas of the North Fork, were dotted with large, beautiful, multimillion dollar, riverfront homes, each, with its own boat and boat dock. Our Captain pointed out one home, which he said, was recently completed, but had sat unfinished for about three years. Perhaps, confirming that even the more affluent among us, was not spared the wrath of the economic recession, and Florida's devastating housing crisis.
St Lucie River - 'A Must Do'
A boat ride on the St. Lucie River, is an experience worth having. I would argue, it's a 'must do', if you are visiting the Port St. Lucie area. Not only, because it's a fun and relaxing way to spend a few hours, away from the daily grind of life. But, it also increases ones awareness, and appreciation of why this natural resource needs to be protected, so that future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.