Vero Beach, Gateway To The Tropics

When my husband and I moved from New England back to Florida, I was unaware that Vero Beach was called “The Gateway To The Tropics” until after we had settled into this charming little seaside resort town. Now that we are spending our first summer in this section of Florida, I would have to agree with the experts. The hottest month of the year is July when the average high is 90 degrees and very humid but thankfully we are saved most days by breezes coming off the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon.

Tropical Fruits Such As Pineapples And Mangos Can Be Bought From Local Farms
Tropical Pineapples And Mangos From Road Side Stands

Frequent summer rainstorms provide the needed moisture to create a jumble of lush green vegetation which is an unusual mixture of massive oak trees with palm trees rising through the oak’s fern and moss laden branches. Drive out west and you discover tall pine and oak forests growing next to acre upon acre of citrus groves and plant nurseries specializing in palms, orchids and bromeliads.

Beautiful Orchids Are Raised And Successfully Raised In This Tropical Climate
Beautiful Orchids Are Successfully Raised In This Tropical Climate

Winters are generally mild to cool here in Vero Beach. The coldest month of the year is January with an average low temperature of 52. The town doesn’t usually doesn’t get a hard freeze so colorful plants typical of the tropics grow in everyone’s front yards. where as just a little further north they would not thrive. Cordyline Red Sister, Gardenia and Xanadu Philodendron grow together in my garden.

Tropical Plants Happy Grow In Vero Beach Gardens
Tropical Plants Happy Grow In Vero Beach Gardens

At anytime of the year, you will find farmer’s markets and roadside fruit and vegetable stands where farmers are selling just picked crops. On a recent Saturday outing, we made a quick U-Turn after seeing signs for fresh picked pineapples. Pineapples are certainly a tropical fruit but one I’ve thought of as being imported from Hawaii. How nice to discover Nature Farms, seven miles away from our home, which grows pesticide free pineapples, picked at the peak of ripeness, and sells them in front of their home and farm.

Fresh Picked Pineapples At Nature Farms
Road Side Fruit Stand Selling Fresh Picked Pineapples

As you can see from the photos below, there is a huge difference between a pineapple picked green and shipped from Hawaii, South America, Africa or Southeast Asia to the local grocery store and a locally grown one picked when it turns a bright yellow-orange color. Standing in the middle a grass field sampling a just sliced piece of pineapple was a taste treat beyond description. After the first bite, I knew I was taking a pineapple home. Actually, my husband and I bought seven small pineapples, they were irresistible.

Typical grocery store pineapple on the left and ripe field picked pineapple on the right.

After twenty wonderful years living in beautiful New England with homes in both New Hampshire and Maine, I didn’t believe that I would ever be saying this, but I really love Vero Beach. I’m now living in a tropical paradise although I do wish there was a little less heat and humidity. Since there is nothing I can do about the climate in my little part of Florida, I can at least head to the beach and enjoy its cool breezes.

There Is Always An Ocean Breeze At Vero Beach
There Is Always An Ocean Breeze At Vero Beach

After a day of sun and fun, I can then go home and enjoy the tropical fruits that we are lucky enough to be able to buy from our local farmers. Now you might wonder what I had planned for seven pineapples? I used one of the pineapples for one of my favorite salsas that I make with mangoes and pineapples.

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Mango Pineapple Relish
Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Mango Pineapple Relish

The beautifully ripe pineapples and mangoes, both the color of sunshine, are mixed with jalapeño, sweet chili sauce and a splash of rum to create a sweet and slightly spicy salsa. I served the salsa with slices of tender spice rubbed pork tenderloin with a rum glaze, you can find the recipe here. One bite of this meal makes you feel like you are in the tropics…oh wait a moment, I am.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

135 thoughts on “Vero Beach, Gateway To The Tropics

  1. Oh wow Karen, those pineapples! Who knew they look like that when fully ripened. I am glad that you are enjoying Vero Beach so much. Do you have any kind of vegetable garden growing this year?

    1. Hi Kathryn, Can you believe how different a pineapple looks when left to ripen on the plant. When we left Miami twenty years ago to move to New Hampshire, I said I would never live in Florida again but once we discovered Vero Beach we knew we would enjoy life here. I don’t have room for a vegetable garden here but we have so many farmers in our area where I can buy terrific produce. Thank you for your kind thoughts. 🙂

  2. So much fun reading your account of all your discoveries around your new home. Unfamiliar landscapes that are beautiful in a new way, strange but lovely new plants, a weather cycle different from the old one of blizzards, a fun new recipes that use local ingredients. Much like our experience of moving from Kittery to the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. Like, but of course different. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. I appreciate your kind words Mark, I’m happy that you enjoyed this post, thank you. Yes, I think our stories are very similar…we all left New England for warmer and sunnier climates. Wonderful memories from there but we are now making new ones in places that are very different from what we left behind. 😀

    1. Hi Darlene, We really did find a lovely location to move to in Florida. You can’t believe how sweet and juicy those pineapples have been.

    1. Hi Gerlinde, I do agree with you, Vero beach is a lovely place. It was not easy to leave our beautiful home in New Hampshire but we think we made the right decision.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed this post, and to hear from you again Karen, especially as you continue to describe one of my favourite places in Florida. The pineapples look amazing, your photos are beautiful, and I must try out your latest recipe. Waving to you from Canada! Cheers!

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment, Jilly. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post about our new home and the photos. I hope you will enjoy the recipe if you get a chance to make it. I’m waving back. 😀

  4. And I can see why you love it, Karen! The water, beaches, breezes, gorgeous flowers and that luscious pineapple for just a few reasons. I love love Hawaii and this looks really close to it without the long flight time. The pork tenderloin with the mango relish looks fabulous! Take care

    1. Hi Pam, The tropical nature of Vero would make a lot of people happy if they didn’t want to fly out to Hawaii…although there aren’t any dramatic mountains. 🙂 I’m glad you like the pork tenderloin and relish recipe, thank you.

  5. Life at Vero Beach sounds amazing. I do love the image of your pineapples and mangos. I was just reading this morning about the benefits of drinking pineapple juice – apparently, among many other things, it’s very good for aiding in weight loss xx

    1. Hi Charlie, Life is indeed nice here in Vero Beach. Thank you for your compliment on the photo, I’m glad you enjoyed it. After reading your comment, I did some reading myself about how healthy pineapples are. 🙂

  6. Sounds like a wonderful place to live, Karen, what colourful photos! The pineapples look amazing, and the orchids are really gorgeous. Your beach photo looks like paradise. Enjoy your summer. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your wish and compliment Sylvia, I’m happy to know that you liked the photos. We stopped by a beachfront restaurant yesterday with our daughter who is visiting. It was a pleasant place to enjoy the cool breeze coming off the ocean.

  7. Those pineapples look amazing, I bet they are flavorful and delicious!! love your flowers and plants. Looks like you live on a tropical island, everything is so beautiful.

    1. Hi Cheri, There are days that it does feel like we live on a tropical island, especially when we can buy fresh sweet pineapples from a local farm.

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Kathy. It was hard leaving our beautiful home in New Hampshire but now that we are settled in to our new one, we are indeed loving it. Isn’t it interesting to see the difference in pineapples when they are allowed to ripen on the plant compared to most that are picked while still green.

  8. Wow – those Orchids are spectacular. I don’t envy that humidity, but I do envy all of your photos. Those pineapples look incredible. And last but not least, a great looking dinner.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos and the dinner suggestion. You are right about the humidity. I keep telling myself that three months of heat and humidity are better than three months of cold, snow and ice. 😀

    1. Hi Lisa, It does feel like paradise, especially knowing that we won’t have to ever shovel snow again. Thank you for your nice compliment, I happy that you enjoyed the photos.

  9. Lovely photos, particularly the orchids. You do realise, Karen, that now you have given away the secret of Vero Beach, you’re going to be crowded out! It’s miserable here right now, lots of gloomy weather and freezing. Save a pineapple for me. 🙂

    1. Thank you Mary, for your nice compliment. I glad you enjoyed the photos. You gave me a chuckle, I only wish I had enough readers to create crowds of any significance in our little town. 😀 Wish I could send you some of our warmth.

  10. I’ve had fully ripe pineapple twice in my life, and it’s beyond compare. Nothing like even the best pineapple I’ve ever had from a supermarket. Lucky you! Sounds like you’re in an ideal place — very happy for you!

    1. Hi John, You are right about the taste of a fully ripe pineapple, the taste is incredible. Thank you for your nice comment, we have indeed found a nice place to live.

    1. I have to agree with you Judy, it does seem like paradise. New England will always have a special place in my heart but if you have to live someplace else, Vero Beach really is nice.

  11. Oh those pineapples and mangos! I thought all pineapples came from Hawaii too. What a wonderful discovery in your new community. I have never been to Florida and can only imagine what a difference it must be from New England.

    1. Hi Deborah, I think New England is one of the loveliest places in our country and Florida is indeed very different. I wasn’t sure about our move at the time but we are happy here. All it takes is finding all the things that make it a special place to live. Fresh pineapples and mangoes being some of them. 🙂

  12. Being an ardent orchid lover and occasional grower you can imagine where my eyes alighted first 🙂 ! Methinks one cannot logically expect perfection anywhere: Your summer heat and humidity is surely balanced with your pleasant fall to spring weather . . . much easier to manage then the harsh New Hampshire winters you experienced the last few years on a property which had really grown too large for the two of you. You sound happy in the beautiful corner of Florida you found: am so glad for you!

    1. Hi Eha, Aren’t the orchids beautiful. They are sold everywhere here, even at the food markets. You are exactly right about our move…we traded three months of cold, snow and ice for three months of heat and humidity which we will eventually get used to. Thank you so much for your kind words, they are very much appreciated.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Marisa, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Wish you could have tasted the pineapple, they were absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Angie, We have enjoyed discovering all the nice things that our new town has to offer…it is really starting to feel like home. Thank you for your nice compliment about the arrangement I did in the first photo, I’m glad you liked it.

  13. Fresh picked RIPE pineapple–I imagine that was absolutely divine.
    Every place has pros and cons. I’m so happy you are enjoying your new place. I think change is good for us. At least I HOPE it is. Hubby is mentioning a move in the future. Though I hate the thought of leaving my garden, I have to admit–one less month of winter would be nice………
    Have a great summer, Karen

    1. Hi Susan, You are right, while the heat and humidity will take some getting used to, there are so many things to love about our new town and home. I know where you are coming from about winter. While some years can be easier than others, there can be some brutal winters that make you want to search for a spot a little less harsh. I think you are right change, this one has indeed been a good one for us…life has gotten a lot easier. Thank you for your nice wish Susan and enjoy those wonderful gardens of yours.

  14. My daughter, born and bred in Pennsylvania, schooled in Michigan, moved to Tampa several years ago, and I know she will never move back. Although I only get to see her a couple times a year now, visiting the edge of paradise is something I’m very grateful for. For pineapples alone.

    1. Hi Rosemary, I believe you are right about your daughter…once away from winters up north, it is hard to think of going back. I’m glad that you get to visit her in Tampa, it has to be a good time for you both. Take care my friend. 🙂

  15. It must be wonderful to have delicious tropical fruits growing practically on your doorstep, and with the regular markets healthy eating must be so simple! I admit I envy you the fruits and the beach, but not the heat. I wonder if you will ever shovel snow again? 😉 It sounds as if you have acclimatised pretty well – so glad you are settling in happily. Enjoy your summer Karen!

    1. Thank you Cathy, for your nice wish. Yes certainly is nice to have fresh fruits and vegetables available for so much of the year here in Florida. The growing season in New England was short. There will definitely be no shoveling in Vero Beach. 🙂 If we see any snow this year, it will be while we are traveling in Germany and Austria this October.

  16. Fresh Pineapple envy Karen. And the salsa looks awesome too. Virginia is hot and humid now too with ticks and mosquitoes…perhaps I should consider Vero, as I would find beautiful local fruit and snowless driveways…Cheers, Diane

    1. Hi Diane, Vero has a lot going for it even though we do have the heat and humidity…ticks and mosquitoes not so much and snowless driveways, they are all the time. 😀

  17. Very beach sounds just the perfect place to be Karen..Imagine we lived in Toronto for 7 years and never made it to Florida…well some day perhaps…the pork looks great and love the idea of a pineapple relish…fresh summer flavours in there…

    1. Hi Shy, We are very happy that we decided on Vero Beach, perhaps some day you will get a chance to visit this area. The tropical flavors of pineapple relish does make a nice compliment to the pork. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  18. Glad to hear you content:)
    I eat a pineapple a week/but Costco..I wait 2 days..prepare it..it’s always perfect..but now that I see I am not eating the real thing..I am wondering how great yours must taste!

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Monique, yes I can happily say we are content in our new home. I couldn’t believe how very sweet and flavorful these pineapples were, I couldn’t just buy one. 🙂

  19. I agree with you 100%. There is nothing like a vine ripened pineapple. On our many vacations to Hawaii, I have tried to eat my weight in them. Yours look just as good as any I’ve ever had there.

    1. Hi Darryl, I do hope you get a chance to have a freshly picked, fully ripened pineapple…the flavor is absolutely amazing. Thank you, we truly are enjoying our new little seaside town.

  20. A u-pick pineapple farm! How wonderful for you. I would enjoy a tropical breeze right about now. Love that icon statue btw!

    1. Hi Barbara, Actually the farmers pick them from the 10 acre field behind their home and sell them each Saturday until they run out. I’m glad you like the statue…it is from our days when we lived in Santo Domingo. Brother and sister artists…one carved, the other painted it.

  21. As Mark wrote, our mutual escapes from New England have taken us to very different places. The nice thing is that we can still visit our old hometowns, but can choose to do so when the weather is “friendly!” The pork looks wonderful, by the way, and I cannot imagine anything more sweet than a pineapple picked right from the tree!

    1. Hi David, I was delighted to see that Markipedia had stopped by for a visit and left his nice comment. 🙂 Yes, we definitely have settled in two distinctly differently environments. Our daughter was just visiting and she said the exact same thing…we can visit New England when the weather is nice and never have to worry about snow. Thank you for your compliment, the pork is a nice dish.

  22. I had no idea that there were pineapple plantations in Florida…they are one of my favorite fruits. The orchids are gorgeous…do you grow them?
    Have a wonderful week, Karen.

    1. Hi Marigene, Pineapples are not grown commercially in Florida anymore but Nature Farms is growing them on a small scale (10 acres) and they sell them each year from their farm from July till September. I’m not growing orchids right now but did grow some when we used to live in south Florida. Thank you for your nice wish, Marigene…I hope you have a lovely week as well.

    1. Hope on a plane Amanda, the farm will have pineapples until around September. Our new town and home is definitely a huge change from our apple orchard and farm in New England but one we are really enjoying.

  23. I’m so happy for you, Karen…looks like you really chose a wonderful place to settle down. The fruit looks scrumptious! I really do enjoy farmer’s markets, too.

    Continue having a great summer!

    Jane

    1. Thank you for your kind thought Jane, we are very pleased with our choice of Vero Beach. It is a small town but has a lovely character. Being able to buy produce directly from the farmers is very nice.

  24. Such beautiful photos – and I would have never guessed that’s what a fully ripe pineapple looks like. I can only imagine how wonderful they taste and one day I will be tasting one myself – I just must do it!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment, Kelli, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos. The fresh pineapple were absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Julie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post…thank you. The pineapples were so sweet that they perfumed the whole kitchen, they were wonderful.

  25. That is lovely for you to have such ripe fresh pineapples from the neighboorhood! Lucky you & the beach so closeby too! 🙂 90 F is 32 °C that is hot! 🙂

    1. Hi Sophie, We are definitely lucky to have the beach nearby as you are right, it has been hot here. Finding a farmer raising pineapples in our area was a real bonus.

    1. Hi Caroline, Sorry to be late in responding to your comment, I found it in my spam file. We do love Vero Beach, it is a lovely area to live in. Thank you for your compliment about the pork, I thought it was delicious.

    1. Hi Mimi, As much as we loved living in beautiful New England, we will take three months of heat here in Florida instead of three months of cold, snow and ice in New Hampshire. 😀

      1. I understand completely. I think it gets more challenging as you get older, too.. You just want life simpler, right? (I’m 60 so I can speak to this issue!)

      2. I completely understand. I think it gets to be a bigger issue as you get older as well – you just want a simpler life. At 60, I can speak to this issue!

    1. Hi Judi, I agree with you about the photo from the pineapple farm, loved the tropical umbrella. I do remember that you made my pork dish and your lovely compliment about it…thank you once more, it is much appreciated.

  26. I loved reading your post, Karen! I don’t know much about Florida and learned a lot. It sounds like you live in a wonderful town with so much to offer. The plants in your yard are such beautiful colors and so varied. I have to say I’m a little jealous of being able to go buy fresh pineapple that is actually ripe! I can’t even imagine how good those must have tasted. Your pineapple salsa and pork dish sound amazing. Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about where you live!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Shari, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post. We both live in such different parts of our country and I’m glad to have shared some of mine with you. The pineapples were absolutely delicious…one bite and I knew I had to buy more than one. 🙂

  27. Such a pretty place to call home and I am sure you are enjoy the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.Those pineapples look so good! Years and years ago we lived in Hawaii for 3 years and I remember driving past acres and acres of pineapple farms. In fact Dole has one of their factories on Oahu. For three years we devoured fresh pineapples! Vero Beach looks quite a bit like Hawaii to me.

    I certainly respect and admire your decision to relocate. It is a big decision and takes awhile to become accustomed to ones new surroundings. Looks as though you are embracing it all with your positive spirit.

    1. Hi Jemma, We are indeed happy with our new home. You are right, it was a big decision to sell our wonderful home but we feel it was the right one. It was a lot of work to take care of our historic home and the large orchard…life is much easier now and we are enjoying ourselves. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, it is much appreciated.

  28. I’m sure it’s quite a shock to your system to live in Fl after New England, but just wait until the snow starts falling up North and you are still wearing shorts and flip flops, sipping on a fresh pineapple drink! Thank goodness for the sea breezes!
    Jenna

    1. Hi Jenna, You are so right…life is very different from New England but I can get used to three months of heat and humidity in exchange for three months of cold, snow and ice. We had lunch at a restaurant built over the water yesterday, and the sea breezes made it so very pleasant. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment, Sarah…the dinner was delicious. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, seeing the tables lined up with pineapples is what made us make a U-turn and go back to buy the fruit.

  29. That’s a beautiful tropical recipe, Karen. I love the addition of pineapple and mango alongside roast pork. We Southern Californians know Vero Beach as the former home of the Dodger spring training camp! The beach looks beautiful. 🙂

    1. I appreciate your nice compliment, Debra. The sweetness of the pineapples and mangos were delicious with the roasted pork. You are right, historic Dodgertown is very close to where we live. While no longer the Dodger spring training camp, school teams come from across the country for baseball tournaments throughout the year.

  30. It certainly looks like you’ve landed in paradise, Karen, and so glad that the move doesn’t come with remorse but happiness and lovely beach scenes 🙂 The pork you made looks perfectly done and the wonderful, fresh pineapple must be delicious with it.

    1. Hi Susan, I appreciate your lovely thought…thank you. I must admit that at first I was not thrilled with the idea of moving to Florida but after discovering Vero Beach, it has captivated me with its charm. The pork was delicious topped with those sweet pineapples and mangos.

    1. Hi Jeff, Neither did I until my husband and I discovered the roadside stand selling pineapples from the fields behind their home. I’m glad you like the salsa, thank you.

  31. What a paradise you live in, unfortunately, I would not be able to take the heat and humidity. I must say that I’m loving to visit our friends in Arizona in February, it’s gorgeous and sunny with no humidity. Next year we plan on a longer stay because we enjoy hiking in their many state parks.That pork with the sunny salsa looks wonderful.

    1. Hi Eva, Even with the heat and humidity (which only lasts for a couple of months), it does feel a little like paradise. Speaking of February, our weather is delightful then. No need for heavy coats, gloves and most importantly, no snow shovel. 😀 I’m glad you like the looks of the pork dish, thank you.

    1. Hi Zaza, I agree with you, I do think we are lucky to live in such a lovely little town. The pineapples were as delicious as they look. Don’t you just love the orchids, such incredible colors.

  32. It does look like Paradise. What I love is how lush and colorful everything is – that has to be so uplifting. We’re in a dry spell up here right now so things are looking very brown and unfortunately those damn gypsy moths have made a comeback and are stripping the trees bare.

    I would so love to be sitting staring at the ocean with the water lapping at my feet. I think I’m relaxed just looking at that photo.

    1. Hi Diane, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and photos…wish you could be here enjoying the ocean. It is very dry here as well, we are 6 inches behind what is normal. Our community has sprinkler systems that run from water in our two lakes so we are lucky that everything stays nice and green. Those gypsy moths are terrible, they were a problem in our orchard many years.

  33. My ‘in-laws’ retired to Palm Beach Florida and tell about the ‘Early Bird Specials’ that start at 4:00 pm- sound familiar? I would have a ‘field day’ with all the fresh tropical fruit, but might struggle with the humidity!

  34. Hi Fran, The humidity is Florida is bad during the summer months but the rest of the year is lovely. I’m familiar with “early birds specials” here in some of the Florida cities with big retirement communities. We have something a little different here in Vero Beach which is a winter resort town. During the months of June through October when the tourist season has ended, the majority of the top restaurants offer a sunset menu, usually from 5 to 6 p.m. This enables people who might not ordinarily be able to afford a meal in a three or four star rated restaurant, a three course meal at a very reasonable price and it keeps the restaurants busy during their slow season. It is a win, win for everyone. 🙂

  35. Wow. Sounds like you are loving your new digs. I made a similar meal last week. Same combo of pork, mango salsa and black beans. Too funny. I’m having a giveaway, so come on over Karen.

    1. Hi Penny, I’m sorry to be late to responding to your comment, I found it in my spam file along with several others when I was looking for your email address. It sounds like we both ended up with a good meal…mangoes and pork are a great combination. Actually it is too funny in that you are mentioning your giveaway and that I’ve now found out I had won. That is why I was search in my admin files for your email address so I could contact you. 😀

    1. Hi Tricia, I’m sorry to be late in responding to your comment, it somehow ended up in my spam file. Yes, Vero Beach is a wonderful place to spend a vacation or retire to like we did. 🙂

  36. I am drooling over those pineapples. There is nothing like tree ripened fruits. When I visited my family in Florida earlier in the year I was spoiled by citrus, papaya, sugar cane etc. picked just before being served. So glad to learn you are loving your new home and the surrounding areas.

  37. Karen, sounds like you are more than happy with your move – I salute you and your husband for “taking the leap” – different lifestyle, different weather…from your pictures and your description it sounds like you could not have made a better decision! Respect!

  38. Vero Beach does look like a tropical paradise and fresh pineapple sounds divine! I learned from a couple in one of my classes that recently moved here from Hawaii that most of the pineapples offered in grocery stores in the 50th state are grown in Mexico. Is that crazy or what?
    Growing tropical plants in the ground would be amazing! Hurricanes and alligators I could live without. I’m glad you’re loving being back in Florida!

  39. Oh, I’m craving the tropical life! Well, until you said ‘heat and humidity,’ lol — I’ve got that here right now, in spades. But once the cold temperatures arrives, then I’ll be craving the tropical life, at least for a week or two. Such wonderful (and, to me, exotic) local produce you have access to — those pineapples!

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