Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Vero Beach

4.3
#3 of 16 in Parks in Vero Beach
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located just off the western coast of Orchid Island in the Indian River Lagoon east of Sebastian, Florida. The refuge consists of a 3acre island that includes an additional 2.5acre of surrounding water and is located off the east coast of Florida of the Indian River Lagoon. Established by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt on March 14, 1903, Pelican Island was the first National wildlife refuge in the United States. It was created to protect egrets and other birds from extinction through plume hunting.Early historyPelican Island’s bird populations were threatened because of increased American settlement around the area in the mid-19th century. Many of the exotic birds were killed for their feathers, used in the fashion industry. Plumes from the birds were used to adorn ladies' hats of the day and at the time were worth more than their weight in gold.Paul Kroegel, a German immigrant, moved to Florida in 1881 and lived on the west bank of Indian River Lagoon. He was fascinated with the pelicans on the island. Being able to see the island from his home, Paul would watch the pelicans and other water birds. He eventually took an interest in the island and its protection. However, there was not any state or federal law to help him so he took control of the situation himself. Kroegel sailed to the island to stand guard and protect the birds and the island.
To visit Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and get the most from your holiday in Vero Beach, create itinerary details personal to you using our Vero Beach trip planner .
Source
Create an itinerary including Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
map
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
188 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • I guess there are different times when the pelicans are there but we only saw one! Still, it's a great drive on the Jungle Trail to get there and it is a gorgeous walk to get to the vista. So cool tha...  more »
  • We saw the island itself on an ELC boat trip, which gets as close as you can get to the large groups of pelicans there. On the barrier island, there are plenty of scenic trails for walking. There was ...  more »
  • We were camping at Sebastian Inlet State Park and decided to ride our bikes to the Preserve. We understand that not everyone enjoys quiet nature sites, but we are hikers, backpackers and nature lovers...  more »
Google
  • I always enjoy getting my nature fix and Pelican Island NWR was a great stop to do so. We were driving up A1A on our way back to Orlando and made a visit. The first parking lot has a map of the Refuge. We didn't have a lot of time so we opted to drive down the road a bit to the Centennial Trail so we cool look at the Observation Tower. It's about a 3/4 mile walk to and from and it is paved the whole way. A visual delight! Loved seeing a list of all of the NWR here in the USA. Next visit we will take a walk out to the Observation Deck.
  • Parking space is always plentiful. The raised boardwalk to the observation tower is facinating. This is an easy walk, and we bring our "out of shape/out of town" visitors here, for a view of real Florida nature they wouldn't otherwise be able to manage.
  • A great place to be with nature. Whether you walk or drive your car it's a great place to be one with nature. They have restrooms. They provide information on what your seeing.
  • I'm happy that this refuge exists for the sake of the wildlife but that's about it really. The trails aren't really marked, there's drainage ditches on both sides of the walkway, very close to where you're stepping, and to clueless northerners who have read that there are gators in every drainage ditch in Florida, let's just say it was a very sweaty and brisk walk. :-) We also didn't see a single bird. Maybe it was just the wrong time of year, ( late November) but I don't think I would visit again. Which is probably just as well, since it's really meant for the wildlife anyway. :-)
  • One of my favorite local spots to go. The lookout tower and trails have become my top places for semi-regular walks. Very beautiful sights, peaceful walks, and the abundant wildlife make this a great place to just escape the noise surrounding, and enjoy the outdoors.
Places to stay near Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

Plan your trip to Vero Beach

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge by other users

9 days in Vero Beach, Boynton Beach & West Palm Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 35 days in Jupiter BY A USER FROM SWEDEN May, culture, relaxing, beaches, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, relaxing, beaches, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in Orlando BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: May, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 56 days in Cocoa Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, outdoors, historic sites, museums, wildlife, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: January, outdoors, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 4 days in Vero Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Vero Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: May, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 48 days in Orlando BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, outdoors, museums, shopping, wildlife, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: May, outdoors, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 15 days in Cocoa Beach BY A USER FROM CANADA July, kids, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: July, kids, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Melbourne Beach BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Cocoa Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: May, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in Orlando BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM October, culture, outdoors, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Vero Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans