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Indialantic, Florida: Snowbird Paradise

October 4, 2021

Many of us well seasoned travelers always seem to be looking for that next trip or holiday that with luck, might just “get us off the world” for a few days.

We all imagine of such far flung locations as Tahiti, the Maldives, Easter Island, and Antarctica as places we can visit and forget about our daily worries and consternations. 

Being retired and a resident of Florida, I, for better or worse, have gotten myself embroiled on the board of directors of my condominium and am up to my ears in condominium politics.  I needed an out!

The covid pandemic hasn’t helped in keeping with our past life of traveling six to eight months of the year.   We’ve been hunkered down protecting ourselves as best as possible, but always looking for that way out to get back on the road, ship or plane without all the paper bureaucracy and high cost of testing, new forms and rules that seem to change every other day. So in my quest of finding that lonely, exotic solitude where one can literally get off the world, a close friend suggested a tiny vacation spot half-way up the east coast of Florida called Indialantic, Florida.

Indialantic – was I going some place that tried to replicate the sub-continent with elephants and a fake Taj Mahal in some tacky Florida town?

Actually no! It turned out to actually be a snowbird’s paradise located between the Indian River lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean near Melbourne, Florida.  Melbourne, by the way, not to be confused with its much larger counterpart in Australia, is just under three hours driving north from Miami or 45 minutes’ drive southeast from Orlando. 

But the newly found secret ‘island’ vacation spot boasts a mini-town of just over two thousand people, all pretty much geared towards everything ‘beach.’

We were booked into a small five-room cottage hotel, ‘Oceanfront Cottages,’  that had been originally built as a family home in 1937.  Subsequent owners converted it into a two story cottage hotel with five guest rooms, several sporting full kitchens with a large bedrooms, living/dining  rooms and spacious bathrooms and even private hot tubs.

Oceanfront Cottages also features a pool, free laundry facilities and, of course, free parking.  Each of the five rooms are very well appointed with large king beds,  living room furniture with sofas, coffee tables and side chairs with a separate area.  There also is plenty of closet space.  The decor is certainly warm and comfortable.  Internet is free of charge and each room has a large wall mounted, flat screen television.  

The unique appointments that bowled me over when we first walked into our room, ‘The Havana Suite,’ were the quantity of body creams, shampoos, hair conditioner and other products available for use – all with caps on the bottles or tubes.  (Many other more posh hotels remove caps and tops so guests won’t abscond with the products).

Also there was a variety of suntan products to make a beach lover so welcome!

Once settled in our spacious digs, we armed ourselves with plenty of sun protection and ventured forth to the beach, beach chairs and umbrellas in hand, courtesy of the hotel.  The beach is a 30 second walk across the street from Oceanfront, then up four wooden stairs, another ten steps on a short boardwalk, and then half a dozen steps down to the sand.

Indialantic Beach seems to be so out of the way, with very few beach dwellers at any given time.  I walked up and down the beach for half a mile in both directions and must say, it’s the least populated beach I’ve ever been to.  It could change upwards during ‘the season,’ but not much according to the manager of Oceanfront Cottages.  It seems most people like to hang out on their condo balconies or at the pool, according to some locals I spoke to.  They prefer keeping the sand off their toes.

By pure coincidence, speaking about getting off the world, we were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Indialantic Beach is located about 30 miles south of Cape Kennedy, and it just so happened that on a recent Wednesday evening, the Space X rocket with its four non-NASA astronauts, were launched into orbit.  At precisely 8 p.m., with lots of folks nestled on the beach, eyes, video and still cameras pointed upwards, the sky exploded orange and we couldn’t take our eyes off the bright orange mass that was being rocketed into the sky.  After the first six or seven minutes, we could see the Space X start to arc down range into the eastern sky and then suddenly a round, white plume blossomed which announced first engine separation.  Then the clouds seemed to form a halo around the disappearing dot, which in itself was a wonder to view.  And finally, after 20 minutes or so from launch, it was over and the sky returned to its star-studded blackness.

It was live theater at its glorious best!  I wonder how many frequent flyer points the foursome amassed during their three day adventure?

Well now, back to Earth and some necessary information regarding the restaurants in the area.

For those that want to do home cooking, there is a huge Publix supermarket in the middle of town, plus plenty of small retail food and beverage shops, i.e. 7-Eleven.  However, for the more adventurous or those who just don’t want to cook, there are plenty of small restaurants and an assortment of the usual fast food places.

We opted to get Thai food delivered the first night (it was actually pretty decent) and the following evenings, we dined at a seafood restaurant, a Cuban restaurant and our last night was spent at a lovely German restaurant overlooking the Indian River.  

The fish restaurant, ‘Islands Fish Grill,’ was superb, serving up several catches of the day; we opted for the red snapper encrusted with crushed fried onions accompanied by a salad and vegetables.  There were more main and side options on the menu.  The dessert we tried was a chocolate mousse which turned out to be the best I’ve ever tasted.  It was a bit thick, but so milk-chocolaty and rich; I wanted a second, but my wife nudged me about my cholesterol.  Must return someday soon for the mousse. 

The second evening we feasted on Cuban food at ‘Nini’s Cuban Restaurant’ and I chose the chicken empanizado (it’s like chicken schnitzel)  with a variety of Cuban side dishes like rice and beans, maduros (fried bananas), tostones (fried plantains) – – hey, we’re in Florida.  In addition to great food, the place is crammed full of Cuban memorabilia and I must have spent almost an hour looking at old photos and paintings.

Our third dining foray was a 20 minute drive south of our cottage hotel, but well worth the trip.  It was a German restaurant called ‘Coconut Cove,’ located in Melbourne Beach.  And here, we all feasted on wiener schnitzel accompanied by salad, mashed potatoes and vegetables.  The main course was as good as some of the better restaurants in New York; someone in the kitchen knew what they were doing!

After four days of Indialantic, it was time to return to Miami, but this small  beach enclave is now indelibly etched in my memory bank.  I didn’t want to leave, but my motto for such endearing places is, ‘the sooner we leave, the sooner we come back.”

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Oceanfront Cottages
oceanfrontcottages.com
612 Wavecrest Avenue
Indialantic, Florida
(321) 848-5978

Islands Fish Restaurant
111 Fifth Avenue
Indialantic, Florida
(321) 956-0559

Nini’s Cuban Restaurant
147 Fifth Avenue
Indialantic, Florida
(321) 821-4928

Coconut Cove Restaurant & Cafe
4210 South Highway A1A
Melbourne Beach, Florida
(321) 727-3133

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