After spending more than a couple of hours at Whitehall, we found a nice place in the town of Palm Beach for a bite of lunch. Then we unloaded the bikes, ready to take a tour along a bike trail that followed the west side of the island. It was an enlightening experience as the trail led past the backyards of some of the mansions that look out over the Intercoastal Waterway.
The more “modest” homes weren’t quite so hidden from view . . . perhaps their hedges hadn’t reached full height.
But nothing prevented us from observing that most every mansion had its own yacht tied up to private docks across from their back yards. Another world it was, to be sure. Talk about “Lifestyles of the rich and famous!”
We did enjoy the views across the waterway. The day was fading into early evening as we finished up the ride of several miles. A fitting end to an impressive day was the view we had of West Palm Beach across the water.
And then we headed back to camp, our full day was concluding.
When the Spanish first came to this area they found the Jega Indians living along the banks of the Jupiter Inlet and River. The Indians called themselves the Jobe, so the Spanish explorers named the river running into the Inlet the Jobe River. Later, when English settlers found the area around 1763, Jobe sounded to them like the mythological god Jove, or Jupiter, and the name stuck.
Jupiter Island starts at the Jupiter Inlet where the beautiful lighthouse is standing, and extends 15 miles north to the St. Lucie River Inlet. This barrier island is sandwiched between West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie. The only road on Jupiter Island more the a few blocks long is Beach Road, which extends 10 miles along the Atlantic, connecting the town of Jupiter Inlet Colony (population 388) with the town of Jupiter Island (population 650) on the northern end.
It’s an easy road to bike, and very scenic too. The native flora as well as the elaborate landscaping makes for a beautiful setting. Then there’s the ambiance of “Money lives here.” Jupiter Island is said to have the second highest per capita income of any area in our country. Pardon my name-dropping, but FYI—Celine Dion’s mansion is located along this road (up for sale for $72.5 million, since she and her family now spend the majority of their time in Las Vegas). It comes complete with an Olympic-sized pool as well as a veritable water park she had constructed for her children. For a jaw-dropping experience, take a look at this link:
Tiger Woods’ $35 million house is also on Beach Road. But you won’t see anything except the entrance gates of these and all the other undoubtedly fabulous homes lining the road. Many of the gates, nevertheless, were impressive in their own right.
Instead of biking today, we were off to do some hiking. Surprisingly, in the midst of all this wealth is a little nature preserve owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. Blowing Rocks Preserve began in 1969, when far-sighted and generous residents of Jupiter Island decided to part with some of their valuable real estate and donated 73 acres to the Conservancy. Roughly rectangular, the preserve extends for one mile north to south—from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Indian River Lagoon, part of the Intercoastal, on the west. The restored preserve reflects what South Florida barrier islands looked like a century ago.
In a region with miles of seemingly endless sandy beaches, Blowing Rocks Preserve is exceptional. The craggy limestone shoreline looks like what you’d expect to see along the rocky coast of Maine or maybe sections of Hawaii. The place gets its name from what the waves and rocks do during rough seas at high tide—water spurts out of holes in the limestone formations, at times spouting 50 feet into the air. These conditions are most common in winter, and especially when the winds are coming from the east.
The rock is called coquina and it has been used as a building material along this coastline for many centuries. In fact, it is the material that was used in the construction of the huge Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine in 1672. It is composed of the remains of ancient coral reefs, sand ridges and shells. It does appear in several other places along the Atlantic Coastline of north and central Florida, but the biggest outcropping is here at Blowing Rocks. It is as close as Florida has to seaside cliffs.
We spent some time here. A beautiful morning made for a great walk down the beach, observing the different formations of the outcroppings. With the winds out of the west and the tides going out, it wasn’t prime time for the water spouts. But the blue skies above and the turquoise ocean made up for what the waves lacked in drama. We walked about a mile down the beach until we came to the private lands of those mansion residents . . . forbidden ground, we were compelled to turn back.
The rest of the day was spent exploring old fishing towns north of Jupiter Island. A little less ostentatious in appearance, it was somewhat easier to see the look of Old Florida showing through. We drove along the western side of the Indian River Lagoon (the Intercoastal). Because the lagoon is wide enough to discourage the spanning of many bridges, the western shore is a different world from the build-up of the beach communities. That’s where the character of years past shows through, especially on the stretch from Stuart to Fort Pierce. We had a late lunch in a quaint Tiki hut in the little town of Jensen Beach. The folks were real friendly there too.
From a pretty stretch of Florida beach,
Airstream Travelers, Chris and Melinda