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Sebastian Inlet State Park

Sebastian Inlet State Park is located near Melbourne, on the Atlantic Ocean, so it's a popular Florida State park. It's a wonderful place to spend a day or three.

Sebastian Inlet State Park is actually part of two barrier islands; one to the north, the other to the south. To the east is the Atlantic and the west is the Indian River lagoon. There are all kinds of activities and if you time it right, you may get a chance to watch some surfing competitions!

The park is on the Florida Birding Trail, which means of course, lots of chances to view all kinds of them. Some common birds are herons (great blue, little blue and green), egrets (great, snowy), pelicans, wood storks, ospreys and more! Some of the rarer species are bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, glossy ibis and others.

Now I've seen this particular park called both a State Park and a State Recreation Area. Which is it for sure? I'm going to go with Sebastian Inlet State Park.

Be on the Lookout For...

Surfing at Sebastian Inlet State Park, Florida

Surfers! Florida doesn't exactly have the same kind of surf as does, say, Hawaii. but the area from Sebastian through New Smyrna has the best waves in Florida.

Oh, and while you're gazing at the water, keep an eye out for porpoises and whales. The porpoises are seen fairly often, although the whales are not except during a migration.

In the lagoon area, watch for manatees (also known as sea cows).

Oh, and check out the two museums in the park -- the Sebastian Fishing Museum and the McLarty Treasure Museum. Both are open 10 AM to 4 PM.

So What Is There To Do?

Sebastian Inlet State Park has plenty to keep you busy:

  • Swimming/Diving
  • Surfing
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing/Kayaking/Boating
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Picnics

Swim and Scuba at Sebastian Inlet State Park

The best (most fun) place to swim is off the beach on the Atlantic. Admit it -- it's fun splashing around in the waves and doing a little body surfing. But if you don't really want to deal with the waves or you have youngsters with you, try The Cove. It's on the north side of the inlet and it's a calm, relatively shallow place to relax and enjoy the water.

For you divers, there are several miles of rocky reefs that stretch southwards from the inlet, and are close to shore. Your visibility is best in the summer, but you can try it any time of the year. Don't forget your diver down flag, and leave your spearfishing gun at home -- it's not permitted.

Catch a Wave

Surfing is big at Sebastian, with different waves to ride. First peak is a popular spot, being near the north jetty; it has the most consistent surf. Want a nice long ride? Check out the Monster Hole. It's a bit far out (1/3 mile) on the south side of the inlet, but when the big waves come, you can ride and ride and ride.

There are surfing tournaments held at various times of the year, but February through the beginning of April sees several contests in succession. Even if you aren't surfing, it's fun to just to kick back on the beach and watch!

Walk on the Wild Side

No matter if you'd like a short stroll through a palm and mangrove lined trail or you'd prefer to get some real exercise done, there is a trail for you at Sebastian Inlet State Park.

  • Hammock Trail: This is a one-mile walk shady walk through a palm and oak hammock, with some mangroves in the wetter areas (don't worry, the trail itself is dry). Take your time and enjoy the scenery. You'll see plenty of butterflies and keep an eye out for the bandits (also known as raccoons). In spring and fall, the bird migrations pass through Sebastian Inlet State Park, and you'll find many intriguing species.

  • Volksport Trail: If you want to get a lot of exercise in, try the 10 kilometer Volksport Trail. Covering most of the north side of the park, start at the concession and start your walk. You'll go by the jetty, along the beach, and also part of the Hammock Trail. While you're on the beach, keep an eye out to the water -- porpoises frequent the waters off Sebastian.

Paddle or Motor?

If you prefer to paddle your way around Sebastian Inlet State Park, canoes and can be rented - yay! Stop by the marina to check if they have any boats available. You can also call 1-800-952-1126 for additional information.

You are best off staying away from the inlet itself, if you plan to paddle. The current can get pretty strong at times, and you surely don't want to be pulled out into the Atlantic. Instead, stay in the Indian River lagoon area, where there is lots of shoreline to explore.

If you have a motor boat, there is a boat ramp at Sebastian. A caution though; if you plan to go out into the Atlantic, the inlet at Sebastian is one of the trickiest to navigate on the Florida east coast. With strong currents and sometimes choppy (okay, more than choppy) waters, it would be best to first go out with someone who knows the area. If nothing else, get the nautical charts for the area!

Wet a Line, Catch Some Fish!

First off -- you need a Florida freshwater fishing license in the following instances:

  • Non-Florida resident
  • Florida resident, if not fishing from land, bridge or pier (in other words, in a boat of any kind)

There are options aplenty! You can surf fish, wet a line in the lagoon, fish off the jetties or take a boat ride out to the Atlantic. However, you are responsible for knowing the rules! You can catch all you like, but you can only keep what is legal. What you can keep varies by species, size and time of year. Click for current rules and regulations for saltwater limits.

So what kind of fish swim these waters? Some of the favorites include redfish, snook, spanish mackerel and bluefish. If you go out into the Atlantic you may find dolphin (also known as mahi-mahi), wahoo, cobia and kingfish.

Camping at Sebastian Inlet State Park

There are a total of 51 campsite available in Sebastian Inlet State Park. All campsites have electricity and water, as well as a grill and picnic table.

Camping amenities include hot showers, restrooms, vending machines, laundry and dump station.

I recommended that you make a reservation for camping at Sebastian Inlet State Park, and the reservation can be made up to 11 months in advance. This is especially true in the summer months. To make or change a reservation call Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521 or visit them online. Don't call the park - Florida State parks no longer handle the reservation booking themselves.

Picnics - Food!

Picnic areas are on both sides of the park. On the south side of the park, the picnic area overlooks the Indian River, while on the north side, the picnic areas are near the beach.

There are four waterfront pavilions in Sebastian Inlet State Park available for rental on the south side of the park. The cost is $60 per day, plus tax. There are picnic tables in the pavilions, and they hold roughly 60 people each. If you want to reserve a pavilion, call the ranger station at (772) 589-9659. Pavilion rental hours are from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

A Notice About Water, Weather and Insects

As always when in natural Florida, be aware of the strong sun, plentiful insects and possible rainshowers. Make sure to bring sunblock, sunglasses and at least have some insect repellent available - you will need it. A hat is also suggested -- it is so very easy to get a sunburn on your scalp, full head of hair or not. Oh, and don't forget some sort of lip balm.

Time and Place

Sebastian Inlet State Park is open year-round 24 hours a day. The entrance and other fees are as follows:

  • Entrance Fees
    • $3.00 per single-occupant vehicle.
    • $5.00 per carload (two to eight people).
    • Motorcyclist - $3.00 for a single, $5.00 for two people.
    • Pedestrian/bicyclist - $1.00
    • Extra people in a vehicle (beyond 8) - $1.00
  • Camping Fees - $23 per night, full service campground.
  • Pavilion Rental - the pavilions rent for $60 per day. Taxes are extra.

Sebastian Inlet State Park is near Melbourne. The official park address is 9700 South A1A, Melbourne Beach, Florida 32951. The phone number is (321) 725-6828.

To make camping reservations, please call Reserve America at 1-800-326-3521 -- they handle all the reservations.

Florida Pieces-Parts

Sebastian Inlet State Park is in Melbourne Beach, on the Florida Space Coast. The closest cities are Melbourne and Vero Beach. The closest airport is Orlando International.

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