SEBASTIAN INLET STATE PARK
The premier saltwater fishing spot on Florida's east coast, this park is a favorite for anglers nationwide for catching snook, redfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel from its jetties. Surfing is also a popular recreation and several major competitions are held here every year. Two museums provide a history of the area. The McLarty Treasure Museum features the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet; the Sebastian Fishing Museum tells the history of the area's fishing industry. Three miles of beautiful beaches provide opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, shelling, and sunbathing. Canoeing and kayaking in the Indian River Lagoon are also favorite pastimes. Visitors can relax with a stroll down the mile-long Hammock Trail. Waterfront pavilions and picnic areas are great for family outings. Full-facility campsites and a boat ramp are available. Located on State Road A1A 15 miles south of Melbourne Beach.
NATURE OF THE AREA
Sebastian Inlet State Park is a wonderful place to view wildlife. Located on the tip of two barrier islands and surrounded by water, birds flock to Sebastian Inlet State Park. Visitors have a chance to view over 180 species of birds during the course of a year. The Sebastian Inlet State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Sebastian Inlet State Park and the surrounding beaches have the largest nesting assemblage of sea turtles in the United States. During June and July visitors have an opportunity to witness nesting loggerhead sea turtles on a ranger-led walk. Reservations for these tours are necessary. Juvenile green sea turtles feed in the seagrass beds of the Indian River Lagoon and can be seen on the reefs off of the McLarty Treasure Museum. In the water surrounding the park Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are commonly seen. Manatees inhabit these waters from March to October. The most endangered whale species in the world is the right whale, with a population of only 300. During the months of January and February, right whales can sometimes be observed traveling close to the coast. Raccoons, opossums, and many other small animals can be routinely observed. Bobcats, alligators, and river otters are occasionally seen.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
The history of the Sebastian Inlet area goes back to the end of the last ice age. The barrier islands formed from sandbars off the coast of the mainland. As vegetation took hold on the sandbars, animals moved in, followed by the first human inhabitants, the Paleo hunters.
The Ais Indians were more recent inhabitants of the barrier islands. They were a tribe of hunters and gatherers who lived off the bounty of the land and sea. The Ais captured the English Quaker Jonathan Dickinson after his ship wrecked in 1696. Dickinson?s descriptions of the Ais and their lifestyles are the best record we have of these people. By 1760, all of the Ais Indians were gone. Like the other natives of Florida, they succumbed to European diseases and mistreatment.
In 1715, eleven Spanish treasure galleons sank along the east central Florida coast. One of the survivors? campsites was located on the present day site of the McLarty Treasure Museum. Seven hundred people lost their lives in this disaster, while 1,500 people survived.
In 1872, Captain David P. Gibson promoted a movement to dig an inlet across a quarter mile strip of barrier island near present day Sebastian Inlet. The next attempt to dig an inlet was in 1881 by Thomas New. New?s Cut was listed on the United States geological map of 1880. It was not until 1895 that water flowed for the first time between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon at Gibson?s Cut. This was a spot where the ocean frequently washed over the dunes. The inlet was quickly closed the same year by a storm and shifting sands.
Twenty-three years later in 1918, Roy D. Couch spearheaded a project using his own dredge to cut an inlet through the sandy banks and build a jetty to project the opening. This was the first time a dredge was used to cut through the barrier island. The cut was completed but a storm wrecked the project. The next attempt to open an inlet was in 1919 organized by commercial fishermen that wanted quick access to the ocean. Working with the Florida Legislature the Sebastian Inlet Tax District was created to build and maintain a permanent inlet. Roy Couch was elected as chairman and served at this post for 32 years.
In 1924, using funds from a $100,000.00 bond issue, the Sebastian Inlet Tax District re-cut the Sebastian Inlet 100 feet wide and 6 feet deep. A 400-foot long rock jetty was constructed to protect the new Sebastian Inlet. Between 1924 and 1941 the Sebastian Inlet was opened and closed as sand washed in from the ocean and men re-dug the narrow cut. In 1941, due to fear of German attack and wartime (WWII) lack of maintenance, a sandbar formed and closed the inlet. In 1947, after World War II was over, Sebastian Inlet was moved a little south and reopened to a width of 100 feet and a depth of 8 feet. In just a few months a storm closed the inlet again. On October 28, 1948, the inlet was reopened and has remained open ever since. The jetties were also strengthened and capped with concrete. In 1952, the north jetty was extended 300 feet. In 1955, the north jetty was extended another 250 feet. The south jetty was extended 175 feet. In 1959, Brevard and Indian River County residents voted to transfer three miles of barrier island south of Sebastian Inlet. This was done in exchange for Indian River County building a bridge across Sebastian Inlet and making a paved road from Wabasso to the inlet bridge.
The concession/restaurant/gift shop is now open under a new service provider. The new concession/gift shop is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The bait and tackle shop will remain open except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The central location of Sebastian Inlet?s Tent campground makes it a popular camping spot. It is a mere stone?s throw from the inlet and a short stroll from the beach. All 51 campsites have water and electrical hook-ups, a fire ring with grill, and a picnic table. Also available are full restroom facilities (A.D.A. accessible), a dump station, laundry facilities, and pay phones. Reservations are offered up to 11 months in advance. Check-in time is from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Reservations for campsites may be made by contacting ReserveAmerica, toll-free, at 1-800 326-3521 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm), 1-888-433-0287 (TDD) (For Hearing Disabled). A.D.A. campsites may be requested. Sebastian Inlet State Park also offers the Bedtime Story Camper Lending Library of picture books for campers aged four to nine. From sea turtles to pirates, the Lending Library is a fun way to enhance your child?s experience in the Real Florida. For a quiet afternoon or bedtime, share a story with your child to help explain the sights and sounds of Sebastian Inlet. Ask the Ranger Station to find out how to check out a book.
ACCOMMODATION AVAILABILITY CALENDARS
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Swimming opportunities abound along the three miles of Sebastian Inlet State Park?s Atlantic Ocean beaches. There is a section of beach that has lifeguard protection from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Beach wheelchair is available upon request. For those who prefer to play in the water but do not like waves, "The Cove" on the north side of Sebastian Inlet is ideal. The Cove is a protected area with a hard bottom and a gentle slope, making it a favorite locale for parents with kids wanting to splash and swim.
Three miles of Atlantic beach offer some of the best surfing on the East Coast. One of the most consistent surf breaks in Florida is Sebastian Inlet's first peak, located next to the north jetty. Another hot surf spot is Monster Hole--located about 1/3 mile off the beach, on the south side of Sebastian Inlet. The contour of the ocean floor rises up and when the surf is big, the waves form long lines, giving a long ride.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are permitted in all in the waters of Sebastian Inlet State Park, with the exception of under the Sebastian Inlet Bridge and in the boat channel. Rock reefs stretch for miles starting south of Sebastian Inlet in the nearshore waters. Water visibility is best in the summer months. All divers and snorkelers must be within 100 feet of a dive flag. Spearfishing is prohibited.
Canoes and kayaks can be paddled to islands and along the mangrove fringed shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon.
Boat ramps are located on both sides of Sebastian Inlet State Park. Boaters have access to the brackish waters of the Indian River Lagoon, the Intracoastal Waterway, the freshwater of the Sebastian River, and to the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf Stream is located about 25 to 30 miles east of Sebastian Inlet.
Boat launch ramps are available on both sides of Sebastian Inlet. The main boat launch facility with 4 boat ramps is located on the south side of Sebastian Inlet. It is open 24-hours, everyday. A mile north of Sebastian Inlet, the Inlet Marina boat ramp is open only during Inlet Marina business hours. Ramp docks are A.D.A. accessible.
A non-motorized boat launch is located on the south side of Sebastian Inlet at Coconut Point. Canoes, kayaks and sailboats are easily launched from this sandy, gentle sloping area.
Sebastian Inlet and the surrounding waters provide fantastic Florida fishing for beach, river, and inlet anglers. Impressive catches are often made from the two jetties extending into the Atlantic Ocean. Both jetties and bridge catwalks are A.D.A. accessible. Boat launch facilities provide access to nearby offshore fishing and diving. Information on fishing regulations is available at both entrance stations and salt water fishing licenses can be obtained at the bait shop. Spearfishing is prohibited.
Sebastian Inlet State Park has three miles of beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches. There is one mile of beach north of the inlet and two miles south of the inlet. Favorite activities conducted from the beach include surfing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, shelling and sunbathing. Beach wheelchair is available upon request. For information about our beach wheelchair call 321-984-4852.
Picnic areas are located on both sides of Sebastian Inlet. The north side picnic area is adjacent to the beach, catching the ocean breeze, under the shade of a hundred palm trees. The picnic areas on the south side of the park overlook the waters of Sebastian Inlet.
DAY USE AREA
We have two bathhouses with ADA access on the north side of the park. We have restrooms with ADA access at the fishing museum, the L-dock and the boat ramp area. There are also two bathhouses with ADA access to toilets and showers in the campground. There is a bathhouse with ADA access in the day-use area. There are also restrooms at the McLarty Museum.
Four waterfront picnic pavilions are clustered together on the south side of Sebastian Inlet. Each picnic pavilion can accommodate up to sixty people each and can be reserved for full day or half day events. The picnic pavilion rental time is from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For reservations, please call 772-589-9659. Nearby restroom and pavilion have ADA accommodations.
Cold, outdoor showers are available on all the beach access boardwalks and by the Sebastian Fishing Museum.
A multi-use, paved path runs through the park parallel to state road A1A and ,in sections, parallel to the Indian River Lagoon. Bicyclists will enjoy this forty mile long path with numerous beach access points.Three mountain bicycle trails are located within the park. Florida is known for its flatland, and the term "mountain bike trail" is used where sandy and swampy flatland challenge the off-road cyclist. The three trails are a combination of off-road and paved courses. All three trails begin and end at the State Park Inlet Marina. Check with Inlet Marina staff before venturing out on any trail.
For a relaxing stroll, take a walk down the Hammock Trail. This mile long nature trail meanders under the shade of a coastal, sub-tropical, palm/oak hammock and along the fringe of the mangroves. Plant identification signs tell about many of the unique species in this habitat. A 10-km Volksport walking trail begins on the north side of the park at the Inlet Concession. The walking trail goes on the jetty, down the beach, around the cove, down part of the nature trail and partly on a paved walking/bike path. The Volksport trail covers most of the north side of Sebastian Inlet State Park. Here's a wonderful map of our trails.
From Indian River County: From Interstate 95, take the Fellsmere/Sebastian exit and go east (towards Sebastian) on County Road 512. After a short distance, turn right on County Road 510. This road will intersect with U.S. Highway 1. Continue east, over the Indian River, to State Road A1A. Turn left (north) and go 7 miles on State Road A1A, you will have arrived at Sebastian Inlet.From Brevard County: From Interstate 95, take the U.S. 192 exit and go east until you reach State Road A1A in Indialantic. Turn right (south) on State Road A1A and go 18 miles to get to Sebastian Inlet.