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Hutchinson Island:
A Barrier to Florida’s Coastline

This 23-mile barrier island holds some of the country’s most pristine beaches, deep-rooted history, and endless ways to experience nature that inhabits it. Hutchinson Island is bordered by the Indian River to the West and the Atlantic Ocean to the East; its southern boundary is the St. Lucie Inlet. The island is connected to the mainland by a fixed-span bridge, giving residents of Sailfish Point easy access to the city of Stuart.

Hutchinson Island’s Rich History

Historically known as the “Treasure Coast,” Spanish galleons once sailed along its calm shores. The story of Hutchinson Island and the Stuart area is a colorful one.Peaceful Native American tribes, rumrunners, farmers, and pirates were all drawn to the area for its unparalleled beauty, abundant fishing, and exotic coastal living.

The waters along the coast of southeast Florida once served as a popular route for Spanish galleons returning from Mexico laden with treasure. The area earned its nickname after a Spanish treasure fleet sank here in 1715. That shipwreck, and others that followed, introduced explorers to the earliest known inhabitants of Hutchinson Island, the Native American Ais tribe.

The Island’s Must-See Museums

  • The Elliott Museum—featuring antique vehicles, a large collection of signed baseball memorabilia, artwork by local and national artists, and home to a collection of Sterling Elliott’s inventions.
  • The House of Refuge Museum—listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest structure on the Treasure Coast. Built in 1876 as one of ten houses originally intended to shelter shipwreck survivors and travelers along the lonely Atlantic coastline. The home later served as a WWII lookout station for enemy attacks. Today the structure houses a maritime museum of historic lifesaving equipment.
  • The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center—a 57-acre site dedicated to education about and preservation of coastal marine environments. The Center, located on Hutchinson Island, houses the Florida Oceanographic Society’s headquarters and includes a 750,000-gallon game fish lagoon, a starfish touch tank pavilion, nature trails, a children’s activity pavilion, a stingray pavilion, and the Frances Langford Visitor’s Center.

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