Hutchinson Island, just east of Stuart off the Martin County coast, is known as a laid-back destination with family-friendly activities and an abundance of natural beauty. But until recently, it had eluded the radar of the luxury traveler. What changed? The emergence of Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, which brings a modern coastal aesthetic to an island that hasn’t seen a new resort open in nearly 20 years.
Subdued elegance is the name of the game here. The resort’s 178 guest rooms are decorated in nautical blues and driftwood-hued woods, nodding to seaside living with charming beach-house furnishings, shiplap paneling, and sailing motifs. Sophisticated travelers will appreciate the design details, down to the herringbone-patterned floors and navy scallop tiles in the shower, not to mention the Nest toiletries.
Of course, no one comes to the Treasure Coast to sit inside a room, especially when such fun activities beckon. Hutchinson Island claims one of South Florida’s most prolific sea turtle populations, and because the beaches aren’t as crowded as those to the south, it’s easy to watch both nesting and hatching in the summer months. Florida Oceanographic Society offers nighttime tours that are equal parts education and recreation.
Hutchinson Island is also unique in that it allows horseback riding on the beach. The reason is the same for visiting this area to begin with: The shore is not over-developed. Departing from Frederick Douglass Memorial Park, horse tours provide a new perspective on the beach experience as the horses walk and trot along the surf. Since this is not offered elsewhere in South Florida, it’s a must during a trip to the Treasure Coast.
A big part of the waterfront lifestyle is dining on the ocean’s edge, and there’s no better place to do it than Drift Kitchen + Bar at Hutchinson Shores. With indoor and outdoor seating, Drift serves a view with all of its inspired dining options. Start with a bright appetizer like tuna poke with avocado salsa and citrus ponzu, and move on to one of the house-made pastas. The Old Country Pappardelle with braised short rib, tomatoes, and Tuscan kale is not exactly diet food, but it’s worth every savory bite.
In a place so secluded, you might be tempted to think there’s no nightlife, but that’s not so. Hutchinson Shores has a lively lounge with entertainment, and downtown Stuart is a short drive inland. The Lyric Theatre is an active, if intimate, venue for a wide variety of performances. Of the restaurant and bar scene, The Gafford and Eighteen Seminole Street (18seminole.com) are standouts, the former for its delicious Southern cuisine (the fried chicken is beyond) and bar atmosphere, the latter for elegant Italian food in a quaint historic home. Stroll along Colorado Avenue and Seminole Street down to the Riverwalk, where there’s always a free concert or other event that brings the Treasure Coast experience to life. «