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What'SUP Vero Beach

What’SUP Vero

Stand Up Paddleboarding in Vero Beach

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Have you noticed all the long surfboards people are carrying about in Vero Beach? To the uninitiated, it might seem that Vero is a haven for Long Boarders or an old surfers haven. There are positively “Two Girls for Every Boy” in this town, actually more like four. Just ask any young woman you know. That’s a whole ‘nother story.

What we are witnessing is the infancy of a sport known as Stand Up Paddleboarding, SUP for short. What is happening is that people are letting go of their fears and giving it a go. And when fears are banished the free go far.

Vero Beach is blessed to be at the center of two incredible assets, the Fort Pierce Inlet and the Sebastian Inlet. If you’ve read “A Land Remembered” you will note that the Fort Pierce Inlet played a major role in Florida’s Citrus history as the New England market’s access to our crops. Sebastian Inlet has a much rowdier and perhaps tawdry history wrapped up in Local, State and then Federal politics making for a good many tales of epic proportion. Let’s explore that sometime.

What these inlets do is allow a continual resurgence of open ocean currents to enter and retreat from the Indian River providing the life for of the “lagoon”, an estuary of international impact. They also provide a magnet for the marine life in the river and a synergy of life along the coastline of the Atlantic. The unique reefs offshore of Indian River County combine with this flow of life from the Gulf Stream to produce an environment for a renewal of species up and down the food chain including our own.

This is the backdrop of the incoming tide of the SUP’ers here in Vero. Many locals have been involved for a long time. In fact, we are home to the manufacturer of a highly specialized line of paddleboards. Mark Castlow and company at Dragonfly Boatworks began making versions of paddleboards that incorporates proprietary designs from their successful flats boats and more. Because of their expertise in the flats, their paddleboard has caught on and been shipped worldwide with Dubai as one of the more interesting drops. And they have had a very satisfied client in Jimmy Buffet who loves to use his for Bone Fish excursions.

Breconshire Shipwreck SUP

So where is everyone paddling? The answers are as varied as the paddlers themselves. It will depend upon their interests, what they want to see and experience. For our oceanfront visitors and hotels guests at Disney, Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, Holiday Inn, Coste d’Este, and Waldo’s the Breconshire Wreck is the first stop. They will easily see the exhaust pipe, the hull’s outline and a bit of a reef on calm, clear days. From there, it is best to head south to the Rio Mar reefs for the best views of sea life and reef formations.

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What is hugely important for this and every paddle is safety. Some if not all of the outfitters will include a leash in the rental and this is key. When you are in the ocean or river you will be subject to wind and currents. You do not want to get separated from your board or your paddle. The second critical piece of equipment would be a personal flotation device or PFD. It seems ridiculous since you may be leashed to your board but it is key especially for the novice paddler. The U.S. Coast Guard requires you to have one on the board at least if you will be outside of the surf zone. Yes, there is an entire world of Surfing SUP capabilities, again for another story. Watch out for Murphy’s Law when it comes to water sports, have safety top of mind.

For the Indian River start with Round Island’s Riverside Park, a crowd favorite. There is a SUP/ Kayak drop off circle and a safe sandy beach to launch from. Again, have your safety equipment on your board and use a leash every time. It is actually more important in the river because you can easily become complacent about safety as you enter a state of calm along the way. You will think that you have found paradise; the quiet and easygoing vibe will be all the more heightened because you are literally floating away.

After a while try your skills at other launch sites in the area. The obvious ones are found in other parks in the city and County. MacWilliam Park Boat Ramp is a terrific place to launch with access to the City Marina and islands north of the launch site. The Vero Beach Rowing Club has installed a great floating dock that is also available for launching but watch yourself when standing up too close to the dock. You may also want to launch from Riverside Park and again watch yourself standing up only after you have pushed away from the shore or ramp. The south end includes Memorial Island and much more.

This is a snippet of the adventures you can have with a SUP adventure on the water here in Vero Beach. As with any water activity know your craft, skills and safety equipment. To that add local shore and water knowledge such as bottoms and tides. Always, always, and ALWAYS… Feet First if you need to enter any body of water. Some people will wear waterproof shoes or booties; there will be obstacles in the cushy sand below. Don’t get lulled into feeling too safe. My hope is that everyone who puts off from shore will return safely. And never paddle alone. Next time let’s see where to rent SUP equipment and what they offer for their guests.

Paddle on.

Paddles by the Sea

Paddles by the Sea

If you are looking for tours or rentals please visit Paddles by the Sea. They have two locations one beachside at the Holiday Inn and riverside at Riverside Cafe.

Read Our Review of Riverside Cafe

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Vero Beach Paddle Board RentalsVero Beach has even more options for renting paddle boards. Click photo to read more.

Vero Vine Top 9 Outdoor Eateries

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Mother’s Day is coming, take mom somewhere special for lunch. With Vero’s weather eating outside is always a great option, we have come up with some local hot spots that offer outdoor seating that mom will love!

Baci Trattoria

At Baci Trattoria, we have built a great reputation for quality food with a diverse menu, awesome presentation, excellent service, and a professional staff, all while striving to orchestrate the perfect event for you and your guests.

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Riverside Cafe

You will find that we are more than just a restaurant. We serve great food, really cold drinks, our bars are equipped with tap lines that chill our beer to 33 degrees, ensuring each domestic, imported, or craft draft beer is perfectly chilled. We accommodate large parties, banquets, and we would love to host your upcoming event. 

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Sammy’s Mediterranean

Here at Sammy’s Mediterranean Café our focus is on providing authentic and healthy food from all over the world, specializing in Lebanese and Greek cuisine.

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Mulligans Beach House

Our restaurants are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year to serve breakfast, lunch & dinner. Mulligan’s offers an array of daily drink and food specials. Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill is fun and family-oriented.

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Osceola Bistro

Osceola Bistro’s menu represents an array of flavors and influences from around the world showcasing Chef Bireley’s culinary travels. In an effort to support the local economy, promote sustainable sourcing and to further express his love of Vero Beach, Chef Bireley strives to purchase as many fresh ingredients from local farmers and fisherman as possible. In addition, Chef Bireley chooses to conduct other business matters with small local businesses and vendors wherever possible.

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Waldo’s Restaurant 

Waldo Sexton arrived in Vero Beach in the 1920’s and proceeded to build the Driftwood Inn, one of the most extraordinary structures in the South. Sexton, founder of McKee’s Jungle Attractions, also in Vero Beach, built his sprawling dream of cypress logs and pecky-cypress paneling from the swamps around the Blue Cypress Lake about 26 miles away. Townspeople who remembered the 1930’s describe Sexton pacing up and down the beach shouting verbal instructions to the crews, who worked by voice command only, without plans. The result was a two-story hotel with balconies everywhere surrounded by pole railings with turned or peeled-log supports.

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Station 49

Inspired by the exciting and always evolving pizza scene in NYC, Station 49 crafts unique pizzas with fresh ingredients.  The menu at Station 49 goes beyond great pizza too.  Italian street food bites like arancini (approved by authentic Italians!), fresh house-made pastas, salads that are somehow delicious and healthy, entrees that Dino has perfected over the years in NYC and fresh house-made desserts that you won’t want to miss.  There’s also a large selection of craft and big-name beers and a great selection of wine.

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The critics are calling it American (New), American (Traditional), Asian Fusion, Barbeque, Cajun/Creole, Greek and Mediterranean, Sandwiches, Seafood, Soul Food, Southern, Tex-Mex and Vegetarian Cuisine. All custom made for you while you pick and choose whatever fresh ingredients you want to eat. 

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Casey’s Place

Love an outdoor setting with fantastic food and just a short walk away from the beach? Casey’s Place is your place then! Located on the corner of Cardinal Drive and Azalea Lane in beautiful Vero Beach, it is a local favorite. Some regular customers drive from as far away as West Palm Beach just to get a taste of Casey’s! The trademark market umbrellas create a comfortable shaded setting at the large classic wooden tables.

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Returning to Vero Beach with Shells on my Toes

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Nine Fifteen Twenty Fifteen:  A Ryder truck a tad too big for my driving pleasure with my car hitched behind.  This big’ish rig and I headed West on Route 60, turned right on 95 and drove North until well past night.  Carrying myself and my things back to Virginia; back to the future; back to be a Mom to my youngest, back in the VA for her final two years of high school.  Bittersweet day.  Goodbye Vero.  Hello again to my second Virginia girl.  Those two years have been both the toughest and most rewarding two years of my life.

Both my sweet Virginia gals are embarking on exciting new school adventures.  My youngest moves to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts.  My first born is off to the Netherlands to attend a brand new University.  My day job of the last 21 years is over; Mom is fired.  Yay ME!

Naturally, I packed my car once again and aimed it due South on 95.  Next stop, Vero Beach! Hard to stay away from Paradise by the i95.

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One of those things in life.  When you cannot imagine being anywhere else, you just GO.

So, here are the TOP TEN reasons I came running back to Vero Beach:

1. Beach, beach, BEACH.  South Beach. Atlantis Beach. Humiston Beach. Conn Beach. Jaycee Park BeachVero Beach Hotel & Spa Beach.  Sharkbait’s Beach get-ups. Beach under the Rail at Waldo’s.  What the heck do I love so much about these beaches?  Well, SALT, salt spray, waves, water, fish, fisher-people, turtle nests, QiGong, sunrise, sunset, shells and the many gifts from the sea.  Then there’s dolphin, tarpon, mullet runs, sharks, spinner sharks, pelicans, terns.  Lifeguards, lifeguard towers, SUP boards, surf boards, skim boards, boogie boards, boardwalk boards.  By now, you should get the drift – I never get bored on or looking upon the BEACH.


2. ‘I Got the Music in Me’ and am sometimes a very happy Dancing Queen!

Music, Music, MUSIC. Vero has such an AHMAZING amount of wonderful music and musicians ALL YEAR LONG & in so many venues.  Concerts in the Loop. Howl at the Moon.  Vero Beach High School’s Marching Band & VBHS’s Orchestra & String students. Collins & Company; Bobby G/Bobby & The Blisters; Uproot Hootenanny.  Downtown Friday’s & Saturday Nights Under the Stars. Anyone playing, picking, (Bibble?!) strumming and/or drumming at the Driftwood.  Where’s Waldo’s???  New faces taking the risk to play in front of Lemon Tree & Cravings.  Saturday Farmer’s Market.  So, though I may not dance each and every time I am lucky enough to catch the live music, you never know (nor do I always) when the urge will strike.


3. Cravings for All the Delicious Food, Food, FOOD in Vero. Breakfast at Chelsea’s on Cardinal, at Kountry Kitchen, the Lemon Tree, CJ Cannon’s, Mulligan’s local’s special & oh that Green Goddess with protein at Cravings! My Cravings obsessions extend to their cookies, soups, ice cream, croissants and a most excellent WiFi connection. La Tabla for absolutely EVERYTHING on their menu and the photos and their staff and the most excellent WiFi free spot to eat or simply sip a coffee in Vero. Tres Hermanos tacos anytime, any day of the week; the Mole on certain Saturday’s is better than even Mole in Mexico. Citrus Grillhouse for lunch or dinner with a view. Dario for happy hour, bar food, late night, their staff, the family and all the great people you meet at their bar.


4. Surf & Dive shops.  Deep Six for ALL their stock of everything.  This place is MORE dangerous to my financial stability than Nordstrom’s used to be.  I love so much there:  bargain bikini baskets, hats, rash guards, SUP gal wear, knee socks, shoes, shoe sale rack, ukuleles, real sun-protection sun glasses, toys, toy VWs, reading glasses, lip protection, the staff……Then, over the Wabasso Bridge, just past the ELC, is the Wabasso Beach Shop where I can lose my whole paycheck on really cool SUP gal wear and Beach toys and surf boards and the 75% off room and their frequent buy some, get more free specials.


5. The 32963. (Once upon a time the 32960.) Riverside Cafe & the coi at night. Vero Tackle. Paddles by the Sea. Boats, Boats, BOATS. The Barber Bridge. The Christmas Parade. The Clydesdales. THE party of the year at Callie Corey’s house. Ocean Drive. Cardinal Drive. Flamevine Lane. Eagle Drive. Casey’s Place. Nino’s. Salt of Vero.


6. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy Hours.  Riverside Cafe. Darios. Citrus Grill. Heaton’s Reef. Filthy’s. Vero Bowl Lanes & Lounge. Kelly’s.  If you want to get happy farther afield, drive (or use Uber or a designated driver) and don’t miss Little Jim’s & the Tiki Bar in Ft. Pierce.  In Sebastian, Salty’s, which happens to be next to my fave place to see and buy fish AND eat Lionfish tacos – Crab E Bills.  Talk about a phenomenal place to buy the freshest fish anywhere & learn about the Sebastian water-front throughout its history.  If you are sweet and nice and lucky, Crab E Bill himself may share a fish tale or two.

7. The 32960. Yes, some of us don’t really like to leave ‘the island’ BUT you are missing so very much if you don’t venture to the west. 14th Avenue for a start. 14th Avenue for a middle and 14th Avenue for an ending as well.  Vero has a GREAT old town, downtown that is getting better ALL THE TIME. Some of my faves: Seahorse Lane Boutique, Tea & Chi, Fish Shack, Southern Social, Tiger Lily Art Studios and Gallery. How about some Pickleball on the courts at Pocahontas Park?


8. Pineapples & Citrus & Cattle. Vero’s roots are agriculture.  The Spanish brought their citrus trees and their cattle and their small horses that are adept in our scrub lands and woods.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Pineapples in Vero?  Yes, indeed. There is quite a history behind pineapple groves here in Indian River County.  Today, the MOST delicious pineapple you may ever taste is grown here, off Route 1, in Wabasso. Nature Farms.


9. The Indian River Lagoon and the A1A.  The A1A needs no further explanation.  Jimmy Buffett sings about it often. Our Lagoon is the second largest estuary in the USofA (the Chesapeake gets top billing) and one of the most biodiverse environments in the world. Truth.  If you want to learn more, DO visit the Environmental Learning Center AND DO take their Eco Cruise, Captained by a well known Mariner, Scott Corey.  Every year there is a GREAT charitable tournament, Lines in the Lagoon, organized by Vero youth who have grown up playing on and around the Lagoon.  Ever heard of a Spoil Island or Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903?


10. SUP‘ing Year Round.  Yup, I am an addicted SUP gal and is Vero ever the PARADISE for this sport called Stand Up Paddleboarding.  Save your pennies though ’cause it takes more than a few clam shells to get your own SUP gear.  But DO visit Dragonfly Boat Works and SeaSupGo to check out all there is to offer and OF COURSE to buy all you need to SUP.

I have been SUP’ing on the Lagoon; in the ocean; circled the flagpole marking the wreck of the Breconshire.  Commissioned in Scotland in 1892, the ship sunk in 1894 in 12 feet of water, on a moonless night in Vero, when the ship’s mates thought they were 3 miles offshore. The Breconshire had been on a voyage out of New York Harbor enroute to Tampa to pick up an undisclosed cargo.  Now you know why the flagpole is out there, front and center, on one of Vero’s most visited beach.

I could really go on forever and a day about the Paradise we call Vero Beach but I shall end this love fest by saying:  it is the Pirates and the People that I meet in Vero, whether they are born here or come here, that keeps me hooked.

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