Florida or Bust: A Major Blow Out
A blustery winter day may not be anyone’s idea of a picture perfect time, but at a beach preserve on Jupiter Island, it’s the ideal situation to see one of Florida’s unique natural phenomena.
Blowing Rocks Preserve is the protected home to the largest outcropping of Anastasia limestone on Florida’s east coast. Anastasia limestone is unique to Florida’s coast and is a composite of coquina, sand and sandy limestone. While a pile of lumpy rocks on the beach may not seem all that thrilling or worth a drive to see, it’s the stone’s interaction with the ocean and environment that creates a spectacular sight.
When high tide is paired with windy days, the ocean water crashing against the rocks on the beach is forced up through the erosion holes in the stone (pictured above). These holes have been created after endless years of taking a beating from the waves, and are what earns the preserve its name. When the water is forced through the holes, often home to an abundance of precariously placed sea creatures, the water shoots, or blows, straight up into the air much like a whale’s blowhole. During ideal conditions, the water has been known to skyrocket as high as 50 feet into the salty air.
Being winter and especially windy along the coastal areas, this is the best time of year to try to see the blowing rocks phenomenon. Your best chances are to pair an exceptionally windy day with high tide for a great view. I know it’s not anyone’s idea of fun to sit on a windy, sandy beach, but this isn’t your average sunbathing spot. Since it will most likely be cold (even if it isn’t further in-land, the breeze always cools it down significantly) dress in layers. I suggest wearing sturdy walking shoes, or even boots to prevent filling your shoes with sand.
This won’t be your average casual stroll along the beach either. The sand is incredibly soft and coarse, so it can be difficult to walk on. For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest to bring grandma or anyone with physical limitations for a beach hike. Being over seven months pregnant, it made for a pretty exhausting, pretty out-of-breath experience. That being said, it was absolutely worth it once we made it to the rocks to catch the amazing views! For anyone that can’t traverse the beach, there are boardwalks and paths that the rocks can be viewed from easily.
For those braving the water, the area is an insanely popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving due to its unique habitats and rock formations underwater. At lower tides you can walk closer to the water and actually get up under the rock formations for a peek into a hidden world of sea life.
Blowing Rocks Preserve is managed by The Nature Conservancy, which specializes in preserving natural habitats and large-scale restoration. In 1969, several residents of Jupiter Island donated 73 acres of beachfront property to the conservancy to ensure its protection. Since then, the group has completed wetland restoration, beachfront restoration, removed non-native invasive species and restored genetically appropriate native species to the area.
Additionally, the land is flush with thriving native plants, birds and sea life, including visiting sea turtles during nesting season and the Florida manatee on the lagoon side of the preserve. Visitors to the area aren’t just treated to a beach day, you can also visit the Hawley Education Center to learn more about the plants and animals of the area, enjoy lecture series and a native plant garden. Upon arrival, a beautiful stroll through the sea grapes and natural hammock path takes you to the beach.
Since the preserve is privately owned and not a public beach, it closes daily at 4:30 p.m. This can pose an issue if you have your heart set on capturing that epic blowing rocks photo or video at high tide later in the day. Just a mile down the road is Coral Cove Park, open to the public daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Since it is public land, it is not meticulously groomed by the conservancy, but there is an outcrop of limestone on the beach here as well that can be reached with a quick walk from the parking area.
There are also restrooms, grilling areas, pavilions and a playground available. A lifeguard is on duty for those wishing to swim or snorkel. A few different walking paths are available along the beach, both paved and compacted sand, to enjoy the views from an easy-to-stroll vantage point.
It’s also a very popular spot for photography, for very good reason! When my husband, Scott, and I visited, we saw several family portrait and maternity sessions taking place around and all over the rock formations.
With such unique views, it’s easy to see why both locals and visitors from afar return to this spot time after time in hopes of that famed 50-foot blowout. Scott and I will definitely be returning with our daughter, Avery (expected in March) in tow to see the rocks blow!
Blowing Rocks Preserve
574 South Beach Road, Hobe Sound, FL 33455
(561) 744-6668 – Nature.org
Open daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas
$2/person suggested donation
Kelsey Walters is the publisher and one of the co-owners of East Coast Current and a professional photojournalist with a BS in Photography from the University of Central Florida.
Her work focuses on travel and documentary photography.