F l o r i d a E c o A d v e n t u r e s

by Christy Fischer
Did you ever want to get away, be adventurous and do something differentyet safe? Try snorkeling in a bathtub. No, I'm not talking about the bathtub in your bathroom, or in a pool. Go to Bathtub Reef, a county park on the ocean in Martin County, Florida, south of Jensen Beach. Bathtub Reef is free to the public, and located on MacArthur Boulevard, on Hutchinson Island.


Bathtub Reef is a natural reef formation that starts at one end of the beach and
extends out to the ocean, and then turns parallel to the beach, exposed at low
tide for approximately 1000 feet.The reef is actually about one mile long total. What

is the allure of this beach reef? Not having to take a boat to go snorkeling or diving and see a variety of fish and sea life in beautiful crystal clear water. The water was so clear and calm, similar to that found in the Florida Keys, that at times, I forgot I was in the ocean and not in a pool. Imagine going to a beach, putting on snorkeling gear and walking or swimming only 100' or less to a reef.

The types and variety of fish and sealife at the reef is incredibly diverse.Translucent, non-poisonous jellyfish, blue crabs, sand crabs, parrot fish, grouper, snook, sheepshead, sea urchins, and other tropical fish like one finds in a pet shop. The reef offers hiding places of tunnels, canyons, caves, and ledges for fish big and small. But be careful not to touch or step on the reef as this can damage or break the reef, not to mention the damage to your skin from the sharp rocks. A tiny worm, called the "Sabellariid" creates the reef over a period of many years, so you are setting back the worm's progress by standing or sitting on the reef. The Florida Oceanographic Society monitors the reef has more information on the reef's biology. Call them at 561/225-0505, or write to them at 890 NE Ocean Boulevard, Stuart, Florida, 34996.

The best time to go snorkeling is at low tide when the ocean waves are not crashing over the reef and churning up the water on the beach side of the reef. If low tide coincides with the morning, all the better, since the reef becomes very congested in the afternoon with divers, snorkelers and swimmers.

To reach Bathtub Reef from Interstate 95, take State Road 714, also known as Exit 62, east towards Stuart. You will drive for several miles before reaching Stuart. Make a right onto East Ocean Boulevard, and then another right onto MacArthur Boulevard. This road leads you directly to Bathtub Reef Park, which is on the left hand side of a cul-de-sac. So next time you are splashing around in your bathtub, think about how much fun it would be to splash around in a big saltwater bathtub.