The weather was balmy, the breezes light, and the company fabulous. On Feb 21-22, myself and 4 hardy paddlers explored (and conquered) the Indian River Lagoon from Fort Pierce to Sebastian.
We put in at the boat ramp at the northeast end of the North Bridge. There are 2 nice canoe/kayak launches and overnight parking is permitted. The bathroom is frightening. There are useful maps and pamphlets are available.
Due to technical difficulties, we did not hit the water until 1130 am. The tide was slack and wind out of the southeast made paddling easy. Wildlife sightings include several dolphins, a sea turtle, and a few manatees along with the usual water birds.
There are several very pretty spoil islands in this stretch of the lagoon beginning about 4 miles north of Fort Pierce Inlet. They are manicured and maintained by volunteers and we saw motor craft and kayaks at most of them. If you go, be prepared to find a spot early. The spots near Round Island launch were all full when we passed. We got very lucky and found a vacant island just south of the 17th street bridge near Vero. This is island #36. It could accommodate 4 tents easily, maybe a few more if you are really friendly. There are few trees however lots of firewood, a fire ring, and 2 picnic tables. Views of the sunset and sunrise were beautiful. No racoons. This spot is 10 miles from Fort Pierce.
The next day we paddled to Sebastian. The lagoon through Vero is very pretty, calm, not very wide and early Sunday am, few boats. We rode the outgoing tide, it is very slow. There are lots of small islands to explore, some of which are designated conservation which means that you should not beach on them. There are maps and pamphlets that contain this information. They are available at the boat ramps and the local kayak shop. Some of the identifications are a little tricky. I was told by a local that island #28 is good for camping, however I was unable to locate it.
Our next stop was the Wabasso causeway. There are bathrooms and picnic tables and a boat ramp and a canoe/kayak launch at the south east side of the Wabasso Bridge. From the bridge, we turned sharp right into the Pelican Island National Wildlife refuge. There were a few birds, nothing dramatic. We found Pelican Island easily. There are signs and you cannot paddle within 100 feet.
From the Island we crossed the big water to Sebastian Riverside Park. We were pretty much out of time and needed to get home so we did not stop to explore, however, the spoil islands near the park are spectacular and I definitely plan to return to camp . They were also occupied on Sunday afternoon. Our 2 day paddle was 24 miles. Everyone was very tired and went home happy.
Sebastian Riverside Park is located at the intersection of US1 and county road 516. Overnight parking (free) is permitted and the bathrooms are clean. There is a sandy beach/canoe/kayak launch that is about 30 feet from the nearest space that you can park your car. While not optimal, it is much better than the municipal boat ramp which is 1/2 mile to the north, very steep and slippery, and owned by the power boaters. I will definitely do this trip again.
The bathrooms are frightening however there are useful maps near the boat ramp.
free overnight parking
From I-95 in Fort Pierce, take highway 70 east to US1. North (left) to the North Bridge. (There are two bridges, one north, one south because there is an inlet.) Turn right onto the causeway. At the immediate end of this very long bridge, turn left into the parking lot of a boat ramp. There are two canoe launches and two boat ramps.