Have you ever gone to the beach and wondered what the small square or triangular areas blocked off by what appears to be construction tape in the sand are all about? They are nesting sites for turtles! So who goes about plotting their location along our coastline? Well, it’s a joint effort and labor intensive project based out of Boca Raton.
Located just south of Spanish River Road on US A1A in Boca Raton, is Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. The nature center is located on the west side of US A1A and consists of 20 acres of protected barrier island. There are trails, an FAU Research Gallery, Nature Center building, outdoor marine aquariums and a very well-known sea rehabilitation program. More than 190,000 visitors visit Gumbo Limbo each year to learn about Marine life, particularly the turtle rescue. If you haven’t made time to see this unique part of South Florida, its worth the visit.
Gumbo Limbo is a cooperative project between the City of Boca Raton, Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, Florida Atlantic University and Friends of Gumbo Limbo that was founded in 1984. Its main mission is “To increase public awareness of coastal and marine ecosystems through research, education, preservation, and conservation.”
Visiting Gumbo Limbo
There are several areas within Gumbo Limbo.
Ashley Trail is on the north side of the nature center and has a variety of plants and outdoor butterfly garden that is in full bloom in May and June. This trail will go by the Intracoastal Waterway where you can usually see wildlife taking advantage of the serene spot. Keep in mind this is not an area to swim or fish… strictly an observation point.
Boardwalk Trail is currently not opened. It should reopen by the end of the year. This area has a ¼ mile boardwalk that allows you to walk through a protected Hardwood Hammock area, gives visitors a glimpse of the natural South Florida landscape before development moved in. There is also a 40 ft observation tower that gives you an aerial view of the Hammock and surrounding Waterway.
Florida Atlantic University has a research gallery with a viewing area. Best time of the year to go and catch a view of turtle hatchlings is during the summer and the fall.
Nature Center has several indoor and outdoor exhibits that help educate visitors of all ages.
The outdoor marine aquariums consist of 4 outdoor saltwater aquariums that have different South Florida marine life.
The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation center was established in 2010. As a visitor you learn about the treatment and release of sea turtles. There are always ‘house guests’ in the tanks and staff to answer any questions regarding the treatment taking place.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center Hours
Monday – Saturday, 9 AM – 4 PM
Sunday, 12 PM – 4 PM
Closed: New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, & Christmas Day
Cost: Donation of $5 is strongly recommended per guest