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A Camping Weekend at Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area

If you are visiting the Orlando region or Cocoa Beach / Melbourne area, and wish to have a few days camping out by the beach, Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area is the place to go. Sebastian Inlet separates Brevard County on the north from Indian River County on the south, and is located just a short drive south from Melbourne Beach on US Route A1A.

We're packing up for a one-night camp out with friends; two couples and two tents. We plan to share a single camp site. We're driving south from the Cape Canaveral area on A1A, so we'll go all the way to the end of Brevard County; coming from the south, Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area is a short drive from the Vero Beach area. The state park encompasses both sides of the inlet. Having arrived from the north, our camp site is located on the northern shore of the inlet.

We stake our tents, drag out all our supplies and set up housekeeping on the camp site. Weíve brought lanterns, chairs, inflatable mattresses, a portable stereo for music, fishing poles and tackle, and a two big coolers. One cooler is filled with our soft drinks and some beers for those of us who drink them. The campsite includes a nice large picnic table, a water spigot and electric plug-in.

We are not in actual viewing range of the water from out tent, but we are in a very cozy, comfy camp site with trees for shade, electricity, and near the very well-kept showers and restrooms. Itís a perfect camping site. We donít want to miss activities, so we grab our fishing poles and tackle boxes and head to the inlet. On the way, at the bait and tackle shop in the park, we buy some live bait for fishing.

Sebastian Inlet is a natural inlet formed where the Indian River enters the Atlantic Ocean. The barrier island on which the park is located is very, very narrow. In places, the land mass is only a few hundred feet wide. The area encompassed by the park is quite a bit larger. It was, in part, created when the inlet and river channel were dredged. The park provides plenty of room for fishing and exploring.

The waters entering and leaving through Sebastian Inlet are quite rough because it is a natural inlet and not controlled by locks. Boats abound in the waters, but it is not an area for swimming.

If you want to swim, you simply cross the dunes, using a boardwalk cross-over to protect the fragile beach environment and walk a short distance south to quieter waters. Surfers gather at Sebastian Inlet due to the waves generated by the in and out flow of the tides. It is a famous Florida surfing location

We go out on the fishing pier for our first fishing trip, with full expectations of catching our dinner. The fishing pier extends out well over the ocean and provides some of the best saltwater pier fishing available anywhere. It is a long concrete structure and provides plenty of space for everyone wanting to fish or just look around.

It seems that everyone around us is catching some really nice fish. We drop our live bait into the water, again and again, but we have no luck at all! Itís still a lot of fun, and we enjoy chatting with the other fishermen (and women) around us who are having more luck and are actually pulling in fish.

Returning to our camp, we set up the grill; we werenít depending on those fish for dinner - we brought food! Sitting under a shade tree, cooking hamburgers over charcoal, we relax and have cool drinks. Satisfied and happy, we look around for what to do after dinner.

Near our campsite, we notice a boardwalk extending into the woods. On investigation, we learn this is a walkway over a small stream and into a natural hammock. A hammock is a spot of land, heavily wooded and covered with bushes and vines. We investigate the hammock as the sun moves toward the west. As the light becomes more dim, we return to the boardwalk, stopping on the bridge across the stream and watch fish and very small boats and canoes pass by.

Other campers are doing the same and we meet some very nice people and enjoy conversing with them. One couple, who turn out to be our camp site neighbors, are retirees and have come from Michigan. They are traveling throughout the southeastern United States in their small travel trailer and having a wonderful adventure. We all walk back to our respective camps sites together and continue to visit, sitting around the picnic table.

We all get our showers in the very nice, exceptionally clean facilities and settle in for the night. Sitting around our picnic table before bedtime by the light of Coleman lanterns, we are all so relaxed and at peace. The atmosphere in this cozy camping area is just about as serene as any you could possibly locate.

The next morning, we get up and go to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. None of us wants to try coffee over charcoal! After eating, we explore the Inlet some more. Watching the boaters is fun, and watching a child pull in a big fish is always a delight. The smiles on their faces are so wonderful!

Going back to camp, we pack up all of our things since the time is nearing for todayís check out. Packing everything into the van, we keep our fishing poles out for another try at fishing.

This time, we choose to go well into the inlet to stake a spot along the river bank for our fishing attempt. Because of the intensity of the water flow in and out of the inlet, large boulders have been placed along the edges of the river to prevent erosion. Climbing down and sitting on these large granite rocks under a semi-shady pine tree, we have lots of fun. We do manage to get a few strikes but never do manage to pull in a fish. Iím sure we must be doing something wrong because the couple in a boat right in front of us are pulling in some nice fish! But itís all about having fun and not really about taking home fish anyway, so no one is too disappointed.

Relaxed from our daily routines, we give up our hope of bragging rights on some big fish and head north toward home. Itís been a most relaxing, peaceful and fun trip. We look forward to returning to the Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area again and again.

Camping is an inexpensive way to see the area. Campsites are very affordable, even if you require full hook-ups for a camper. Itís much more peaceful than staying in a hotel, although not quite as comfortable. Camping makes it easy to extend a trip to Florida by a few days since the costs are so low! Donít miss out on this great experience!

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