and Port Salerno
Stuart is an attractive and bustling town of about 16,000 people located on what in recent years has been designated as the "Treasure Coast".
It is located on the east coast of Florida about halfway between north Palm Beach County and Vero Beach.
Hundreds of years ago many Spanish galleons were lost in storms off the coast of this area, and millions of dollars in gold and silver went down with the ships. Treasure has been discovered off and on over the years, and people are still looking.
Modern treasure for Stuart and Martin County comes from the many new upscale waterfront and golf course developments, and from the town's wonderful location where Hobe Sound and Indian River Lagoon come together at St. Lucie Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.
The town is surrounded by water: the St. Lucie River has a north fork and south fork; Manatee Pocket is a natural hurricane harbor located just south of St. Lucie Inlet with the small fishing village of Port Salerno. Sewell's Point is an elegant older Stuart neighborhood with the Indian River Lagoon on its east and the St. Lucie River to its west.
As one drives around Stuart, it is hard not to be near beautiful water. This abundance of waterfront has made Stuart a marine service center. There are several first class marinas and boatyards in the area, and a charter fishing fleet that specializes in taking sport fishing enthusiasts out to battle and catch sailfish in the ocean. The beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean are nearby at Jensen Beach and Hutchinson Island. Stuart is truly a magical place.
Port Salerno is a residential and fishing village in unincorporated Martin County on the south side of Stuart. It is located along the waters of the St. Lucie River near the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. Its waterfront district is located at the south end of Manatee Pocket. The main highway through town is State Road A1A and the waterfront district is adjacent to the highway. You can see the district in the lower right hand corner of the aerial photo below.
Manatee Pocket is well known by boaters as a natural "hurricane hole", as good a place to take shelter in a bad storm as any harbor along the east coast of Florida. The shoreline of Manatee Pocket is busy with fishing related enterprises like charter boats, commercial fishing boats, marinas, boatyards, and seafood restaurants.
Port Salerno was founded in 1894 as Salerno and the "Port" was added in 1924. The name had been chosen by some of the earlier settlers who were from the Italian town of Salerno. Most people in the early years made their livings by fishing commercically or working in nearby pineapple farms. In the 1930s, Port Salerno became well known for its shark industry.
The population of the Port Salerno area is about 10,000, but it is contiguous with the larger and busier Stuart and is often considered part of that town. The residential areas are east of the waterfront district on a large peninsula separated from nearby Jupiter Island by Great Pocket, a section of the Intracoastal Waterway. Many cruising yachts stay at the marinas in the area during the winter; others stay there year around.
Fishing with large nets was banned by the State in 1995, and the commercial fishing industry was devastated. Since then, the marine industry has taken the place of many of the commercial fishing establishments. Although marinas and boat yards are all over the area, commercial fishing is still important to the town's economy. People today like to visit the area's many nautical shops and seafood restaurants.
Martin County government and local citizens have been busy in recent years with preservation and improvement projects. An example is the Manatee Pocket walk, a board walk around a portion of the Manatee Pocket waterway. The goal of these projects has been to preserve the historic fishing village feel of the town and not let it become just another overcrowded Florida waterfront.
Some Treasure Coast Restaurants
Captain Hiram's - Sebastian
Original Tiki Bar - Fort Pierce
Pelican Cafe and Beach - Stuart