Jupiter Island is great for biking. You can even stop at a hidden beach
JUPITER ISLAND — The houses here have names — “Paradise Found, ” “The Other House,” “Tranquility.” And there are two driveways: One is labeled “service entry.”
Jupiter Island residents have included Tiger Woods, Celine Dion, Greg Norman, Alan Jackson and members of the Bush clan. The neighborhood is not cluttered with retail establishments or hotels or condos.
What that means to me is: A scenic two-lane beachfront road with well-kept landscaping, very little traffic and thus excellent biking. And it goes on for mile after mile along Jupiter Island on Florida’s coast.
Jupiter Island starts at the Jupiter Inlet with its beautiful lighthouse and extends 15 miles north to the St. Lucie River Inlet. (The barrier island is midway between West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie.)
The only road on Jupiter Island more than a few blocks long is Beach Road (SR 707), which extends 10 miles along the Atlantic, from the southern end and the town of Jupiter Inlet Colony (population 388) to the northern end, the town of Jupiter Island (population 650).
Jupiter Island is said to have the second highest per-capita income of any city in the country. And lucky for us, the only traffic that kind of money generates comes from lawn-maintenance workers. The speed limit on the two-lane road is 30 miles per hour and the road is substantially shaded in the early mornings and late afternoons.
Celebrity-home spotters should look for Celine Dion’s house at 215 S. Beach Road. (Just north of where Gomez splits off in the town of Jupiter Island.) All you will see, however, is hedges and driveways. Tiger Woods’ $35 million house is three miles south at 463-467-469 S. Beach Road, according to tcpalm.com. But don’t linger and don’t trespass: Security is said to be very tight.
You can access Jupiter Island’s Beach Road for biking from either the north via Bridge Road (County Road 708) at Hobe Sound, or the south, where Beach Road (SR 707) heads east off of U.S./A1A in Tequesta.
Places to park your car or explore when biking Jupiter Island
There are several parks that make good starting points and/or places to spend time as you are biking Jupiter Island.
- Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum has a large, free parking lot right off Beach Road where it splits off US 1. The first section of South Beach Road passes the only condos and highrises on the island. There is more traffic here as a result, but there is a bike lane/sidewalk. The scenery is good where you get views of the wide Intracoastal Waterway.
If you have the time and are interested in exploring , the lighthouse makes a good stop. The historic 1860 lighthouse is one of the few lighthouses you can climb. The waterfront museum in a restored WWII building offers indoor Florida history exhibits, outdoor exhibits and the Tindall Pioneer Homestead. It’s $9 for adults, $5 children ages 6 to 18, ages 5 and under free.
- Coral Cove Park, 1600 S. Beach Road,about a half mile north of the lighthouse, has free parking, though on sunny weekends, the lot fills up. (There is more parking along the Intracoastal where people swim and put in kayaks.) If you want to combine bicycling and swimming, Coral Cove Park offers good snorkeling. It is home to extensive natural limestone rock formations right at the beach. The same geological formations are at play at nearby Blowing Rocks Preserve. (You can walk along the beach between Blowing Rocks and Coral Cove.) The park has 600 feet of lifeguard-watched beach, picnic areas, playgrounds and restrooms. (Find more spots where you can snorkel from shore on a previous Florida Rambler story.)
- Blowing Rocks Preserve, 574 S. Beach Road, has a large parking lot on the west side of the road for its nature center. (Beach-side spaces should be left for beach goers.) Blowing Rocks is an outstanding and unique beach and well worth exploring on foot. You can also swim and snorkel here. The lovely free nature center is worth a quick visit and there are restrooms inside. Here’s a previous Florida Rambler story on Blowing Rocks.
Hobe Sound Martin County Beach Park, at the intersection of Bridge Road and Beach Road at the northern end of the island, has about 80 parking spaces, restrooms and picnic tables under a shelter. It’s a favorite with surfers because, as Surfline.com explains, big waves develop when “sand settles between the outside reef and the shore, and reform over each successive sandbar.” The beach is beautiful and free and it’s always fun watching surfers.
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is where North Beach Road dead-ends. There’s a $5 parking fee for cars, but access is free for bicyclists. We were ecstatic when we stumbled on this beach. When I wrote about it for Florida Rambler, I called it a “secret beach,” because it is in a remote location at the end of a dead-end road. You can walk 5 miles on this pristine beach and never see a building. I highly recommend it.
Tips for biking Jupiter Island
Hard-core bicyclists (versus me, definitely soft at the core) will want to bicycle the whole island — 10 miles each way — and then some. You see lots of bicyclists on this road; here’s a report from a bicyclist who routinely uses this road as part of a 42-mile loop. You will be passed by occasional cars, but the traffic is not heavy and drivers are used to cyclists. Local law requires bicyclists to ride single file.
If you want a shorter trip, I recommend parking at Hobe Sound Martin County Beach Park and bicycling north 3 miles to Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Because this is a dead-end road with few houses and a huge wildlife refuge at the end, it gets the least traffic. Plus, you can enter the refuge free and take a swim or walk there, as we did. This might be the best stretch for families with kids.
If you opt for this route, you can add a few miles onto your trip by then exploring in the other direction. Bridge Road (which heads west into Hobe Sound) is particularly lovely as it leads to the Intracoastal, with a shady bike path under arching ficus trees. It’s a short ride to the bridge. We then turned around and explored the small village of Jupiter Island, riding along the western-most road, which is Links Road and winds along a large golf course with Intracoastal views.
Another nice route is to park at Blowing Rocks and ride north. One gets an occasional glimpse of the ocean but your primary view is of perfect hedges, walls, lush landscaping and elaborate gates.
Where can you get to the beach ? One summer afternoon when we bicycled north from Blowing Rocks, it was so hot we hunted for a place to cool off in the ocean. Except for the above-mentioned parks, there aren’t many legal ways to access the beach on Jupiter Island and it’s a long way from Blowing Rocks to Hobe Sound Beach Park.
We do have one suggestion: There is a wooden stairway that crosses the dunes and appears to be for public access at 346 S. Beach Road. (The dune crossover is across the street from a road, not a private residence, and lacks the usual “no trespassing” sign. Take a look at this Google streetview image of the area. )
It’s well-established that “wet sand” — the beach below mean high water lines — is actually public. (Though I am sure the folks on Jupiter Island do not welcome beachcombers behind their mansions.)
What’s nearby? Jupiter Island offers many outstanding recreational spots
- St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park, a state park reachable only by boat.
- Square Grouper Tiki Bar, 111 Love St., Jupiter: This is such a classic beach bar that it was used as the locale for the “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” music video featuring country music artist Alan Jackson (who had a home on Jupiter Island) and Jimmy Buffett. It’s right on the sandy beach of the Loxahatchee River overlooking the 1860 lighthouse and the inlet. It’s very popular; best time to visit is in the afternoon. Here’s what Yelpers say and here’s the “Five O’Clock Somewhere video.
- Looking for a place to have lunch. Dune Dog Cafe, Alt Highway A1A in Jupiter, is famous for its seafood. It has a beach-shack atmosphere. Here’s what Yelpers say.
- Nearby is Jonathan Dickinson State Park, with outstanding hiking and biking trails plus kayaking, a boat trip up the Loxahatchee, campgrounds and even cabins you can rent.
- One of the best kayak trails in South Florida is on the Loxahatchee, which is also nearby.
Do you have experience biking Jupiter Island? Please add your thoughts in our comment form below.