Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties
Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties

The Treasure Coast is a region in the southeast of the U.S. state of Florida. It borders the Atlantic Ocean and comprises Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties. The region, whose name refers to the Spanish Treasure Fleet that was lost in a 1715 hurricane, evidently emerged from residents' desire to distinguish themselves from the Gold Coast to the south (the coast along Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties).

The Treasure Coast area includes parts of two metropolitan statistical areas designated by the Office of Management and Budget and used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and other agencies: the Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area (comprising St. Lucie and Martin counties) and the Sebastian–Vero Beach, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (comprising Indian River County).


The area has long been inhabited, but like other of Florida's vernacular regions, a popular identity for the area did not emerge until the area saw its initial population boom in the 20th century. It is one of several "coast" regions in Florida, like the Gold Coast and the First Coast.[1] The term was coined by John J. Schumann Jr. and Harry J. Schultz of the Vero Beach Press Journal newspaper shortly after salvagers began recovering Spanish treasure off the coast in 1961.[2] The discovery of treasure from the 1715 Treasure Fleet, lost in a hurricane near the Sebastian Inlet, was of major local importance and brought international attention to the area.[3] Press Journal publisher Shumann and editor Schultz noted that there was no name for their area, which was between the well known Gold Coast to the south (From Palm Beach County to Miami) and the Space Coast to the north (Brevard County). They started referring to their region as the "Treasure Coast" in the newspaper, and this use spread to the community.[2]


See also: Treasure Coast Newspapers

Metropolitan areas

The Treasure Coast includes two metropolitan statistical areas designated by the Office of Management and Budget and used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and other agencies. These are:


Indian River Lagoon Area.jpg

All of the Treasure Coast is shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by narrow sandbars and barrier islands that protect the shallow lagoons, rivers, and bays. Immediately inland, pine and palmetto flatlands are abundant.[5] Numerous lakes and rivers run through the Treasure Coast, notably the well known Indian River, a part of the Indian River Lagoon system. At certain seasons of the year, bridges may impede the red drift algae flow, causing a "rotten egg" hydrogen sulfide odor in the area. The Treasure Coast is also bordered by the Atlantic portion of the Intracoastal Waterway, a stretch of closed water from Brownsville, Texas, to Boston, Massachusetts.[6]


A great amount of the Treasure Coast's population is made up of census-designated places (CDPs), with almost all of these in Martin County and Indian River County. Only one city on the Treasure Coast has a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants, which is Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County. Here is the classification of the places of the Treasure Coast. C for city, T for town, and V for village.

Place with more than 100,000 inhabitants

Places with 10,000 to 50,000 inhabitants

Places with 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants

Places with 1,000 to 5,000 inhabitants

Places with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants

Census-designated places (by population, as of 2010 Census)

Transportation infrastructure


Vero Beach Regional Airport offers commercial passenger service on Breeze Airways. Other commercial airports nearby include Melbourne's Melbourne Orlando International Airport to the north (40 miles from Vero Beach), and West Palm Beach's Palm Beach International Airport to the south (30 miles from Hobe Sound). Other small regional airports in the area include Treasure Coast International Airport in Fort Pierce, and Witham Field in Stuart.

Marine transportation

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park.jpg

Fort Pierce Harbor, in Fort Pierce, located along the Indian River across from the Fort Pierce Inlet, is a locally significant port for imports and exports. The Intracoastal Waterway follows the Indian River as it passes through the Treasure Coast. The Okeechobee Waterway connects Stuart with Ft. Myers on the west coast, passing through Lake Okeechobee approximately halfway along the route.


Despite its large population, the Treasure Coast has only two major north–south highways running through the area: Florida's Turnpike (a toll road) and Interstate 95. Both routes run generally parallel to each other (twice crossing each other), but are mostly located along the extreme western edges of the cities lining the coast. Through the cities themselves, U.S. 1 is the main north–south roadway. Farther east, running along the coast, and often on the barrier island for the region (Hutchinson Island and Orchid Island), is Florida State Road A1A.

Beginning in Stuart, Florida State Road 76 runs west out of Stuart, passing Indiantown approximately 2 about halfway through before ending at an intersection with U.S. 98/441 in Port Mayaca. Shortly after leaving Stuart, the road parallels the St. Lucie Canal along its southern edge until both terminate along the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee.


The Florida East Coast Railway operates freight service along the coast throughout the region. FEC also operates a rail yard just south of downtown Fort Pierce.

Up until 1963, long-distance passenger trains operated along the route. Among the most notable passenger trains were (main sponsors and destinations) the East Coast Champion (Atlantic Coast Line, New York City); City of Miami (Illinois Central, Chicago); Dixie Flyer (Louisville & Nashville, Chicago); Florida Special (winter season only; Florida East Coast Railway, New York City); Havana Special (Florida East Coast Railway, New York City); South Wind (Louisville & Nashville, Chicago).[8][9] The Southern Railway's Royal Palm from Cincinnati ended its service south of Jacksonville, along the Florida East Coast by 1958.[10]

Amtrak and the Florida Department of Transportation have been discussing returning passenger service to the coast.[11] In 2018, Brightline, a higher speed train line that will ultimately run between Miami and Orlando, announced that it was looking for sites for a new station between Fort Pierce and Miami.[12][13] As of November 2019, Stuart is the frontrunner to receive the Brightline station.[14]


  1. ^ Lamme, Ary J.; Oldakowski, Raymond K. (2007). "Spinning a New Geography of Vernacular Regional Identity: Florida in the Twenty-First Century". Southeastern Geographer. 47 (2): 331. doi:10.1353/sgo.2007.0029. S2CID 129577530.
  2. ^ a b Tyler Treadway (March 27, 2011). "Who came up with the 'Treasure Coast' name?". Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  3. ^ "The storm that gave the Treasure Coast its name". The Miami Herald. June 10, 1996. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  4. ^ "WQCS Homepage". WQCS.
  5. ^ "Florida | Infoplease".
  6. ^ Jim Waymer (2010-07-02). "Man on mission to sweeten smell of Indian River Lagoon". Burlington Free Press.
  7. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Port St. Lucie city, Florida; United States". Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  8. ^ "Florida East Coast Railway". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 90 (7). December 1957.
  9. ^ "Florida East Coast Railway". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 91 (3). January 1962.
  10. ^ "Florida East Coast Railway". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 94 (8). August 1958.
  11. ^ "Orlando Sun-Sentinel," Feb 22, 2013, Angel Streeter, "Amtrak still hopeful for service on FEC tracks"
  12. ^ Janny Rodriguez, WPTV September 6, 2018 "Brightline considers Fort Pierce train station,"
  13. ^ Keona Gardner, TC Palm, September 5, 2018 "Fort Pierce: Brightline wants to build station, hotel at H.D. King site downtown"
  14. ^ George Andreassi, Vero News November 21, 2019 "With Fort Pierce out, nearest Virgin Trains stop looks like Stuart"

Further reading