If there’s one marina that rivals a good anchorage, it’s Vero Beach Municipal Marina. Whether in a slip or on a mooring ball, it’s a bucolic setting that could make you rethink any associations you have with the word “municipal.” This is not some impersonal marina where you feel like you are in a boat parking lot and your sight-seeing is limited to the marina office and land heads. Think summer camp, a charming foliage rich cove, great sunsets and bright stars at night combined with easy access to culture, entertainment and provisioning.
Vero Beach Municipal Marina is possibly the most convenient marina we’ve ever visited. The ocean, restaurants and shops are only a 15 minute walk away. “Serious” shopping centers are a short and free shuttle bus ride away with a choice of mid to high range supermarkets, post office, UPS store, and, the all important West Marine Express. There are two shuttle stops at the the marina — one at the dinghy dock and one near the land heads and showers and marina office. It does not get more convenient than this.
It’s one of our “stay a week” places, not just for the free shuttle buses to and around town but because of the year round summer camp like atmospher. Cruisers do and seem to expect to talk to each other, make friends, swap cruising tips and stories. Maybe it’s because we all queue up for the bus together or because there’s a picnic table, lounge, book swap, plentiful laundry machines — and this physical layout encourages community. Even the mail pick-up feels like camp, with one of the dock hands sorting the mail and putting it in alphabetized cubbies. The way cruisers come for the mail, you’d think they were expecting a care package from Mom and Dad. Maybe they are….
This time a series of cold snaps and small craft advisories, kept us here a little longer than planned and, as often happens, when we stay longer than we initially intend, we discover something special.
This year’s discovery is the Vero Beach Museum of Art, a 15 minute walk from the Marina, just across the main road. There is a spectacular exhibit of ceramic masterpieces running right now called Innovation and Change: Great Ceramics from the Ceramics Research Center of Arizona State University Art Museum Collection. This is one masterpiece after another, some fanciful and all amazing to see — even if you think you aren’t interested in ceramics. While this exhibit closes January 10, several more are opening in its wake.
For cruisers returning Northbound, these two exhibits, among others, will be waiting for you well into May. We can vouch for Food for Thought, a series of huge outdoor bronze sculptures that are plays on words and ideas in the form of giant food-related sculptures by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz. It is great fun to see and walk through the sculpture garden of these surreal and humorous structures with the ocean as a far away backdrop. It runs through May 16, 2010.
A maritime-themed exhibit awaits late snow-birds and returning snowbirds. Ships and shorelines, William Bradford and Nineteenth-Century American Marine Painting, opens January 30 and runs through May 10, 2010.
This, to us, is reason alone to get off your boat in Vero Beach.
But, there is more. Among the “camp” activities back at the marina, there’s the Saturday afternoon get together at the picnic table, starting at 4. Musicians welcome and bring a snack to share.
Wedesday mornings, you can take the first shuttle bus at 8 and join the cruisers breakfast at the 2002 diner. Get out at the Publix stop; it’s only about five minutes ride from the marina. There you will meet not only active cruisers but local members of CLOD, Cruisers Living on Dirt. It’s an affable group and if you’re lucky, you may get a fanciful bird ornament from Rose — she makes them out of colorful retired computer tape. I proudly wear mine.
Vero Beach is also a good opportunity for those who need and want a break from eating aboard. We had a good “deli fix” at Two Jays Deli; while it’s not New York City or Kruppens in DC, they do a good job and their sliced meats and nova are far better than the supermarket equivalents; you can get white fish, bagels that are water boiled and there are even take-out knishes. We also had a great lunch at the Siam Orchid restaurant, easily reached by the shuttle, tell the driver you want to get off at the West Marine. Their Thai green curry and red curry lunch specials are excellent and authentic, and at $6.50 with soup of the day, a bargain. They also have first rate sushi offerings at reasonable prices. Bangkok in Downtown is another good Thai restaurant; get off at Pocahontas transfer station on the shuttle bus. This area is fun to walk around, nice shops, including Tea and Chi which is a few doors away from the Cultural Council of Indian River County’s office where you can get the Culture Vulture booklet that highlights cultural events in town.
This is a stop we look forward to each cruise South and 2010 did not disappoint.
S/V Lady Jane
View of the marina office, fuel dock and part of the mooring field.
A sculpture in the Food for Thought exhibit of giant bronze sculptures by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz at the Vero Beach Museum of Art through January 10, 2010. This sculpture is entitled “WMD”.
Sunset at Vero Beach Municipal Marina
View of the mooring field.
Good summary of Vero Beach Municipal Marina. We stopped there briefly this past April and found it as enjoyable as you noted.
I was at the Municipal Marina some years ago on my way to the Bahamas and back. I loved it, probably the best all round marina I’ve ever been in. I really liked the ice cream shop by the beach. I hope to be there this next winter.
If you stop at the WestMarine on Miracle Mile, stop in Kelly’s Irish pub/bar for an excellent Rueben. Say hi to Ducky. Also, for the best pizza, go to South Beach Pizzaria. It’s a block off the Causeway (17th St). They’ll deliver to the Marina.
Enjoy Vero. It can be easy to stay longer than you think. Stoping there for a “couple of days” to do some minor fixes and stayed 3 weeks. I now call it Velcro Beach
Vero is the best kept secret in Florida.My parents lived in the area for 25 years, and it was a thrill while “Looping” to stay at this wonderful marina. There is a fun breakfast place right on north beach next to the boardwalk.Listen to the sea while eating an omlette!Also love “The Driftwood Inn’s large patio overlooking the ocean for lunch. Both places are walkable…a rare occurance in Florida.Try the Riverside theatre for some top notch entertainment.This, too is walking distance from the marina.It doesn’t get better than this!
Should mention that in peak cruising seasons you will probably raft up with a similar size boat on the mooring.
Some people are put off by this but we have always enjoyed the opportunity to meet more cruisers and we have never (in over a dozen visits) experienced any difficulties with this setup
Joe Powers/ sv Aquavit
I find it amusing that cruisers like Vero Beach (as do I) but criticize other cities for wanting to install mooring fields at the expense of anchorage areas. Where is the large anchorage area at Vero Beach? Or am I missing it?
I too have enjoyed Vero, and the Art Museum, and the very nice restaurant on the beach at the end of this same Main Street. It also gets my OK as a mooring field because it is one of the few that can handle our 60 foot boat. So many former anchorage areas in the NE. are filled with moorings, very few of which can accommodate us, making it a lose-lose situation.