There aren’t too many reasons why you may find yourself in Jensen Beach, Florida. This teacup-sized town has a whopping 11,000 residents and is nestled along Florida’s southeast coast. The closest airport is West Palm Beach, about 45 miles away.

Yet destinations like these are some of my favorites. They’re not chock-full of tourists waiting in lines and crowding up the sidewalks. Instead, they’re great places to interact with locals, explore little corners of home life, and take a few moments to reflect.

When my opportunity came to give the small-town host of the annual Pineapple Festival a run for its money, I immediately looked for the most locally owned, cute-as-a-button place I could think of. And couldn’t be more glad that I did.

Thanks to the offer for a free stay at the Caribbean Shores Hotel & Cottages (See disclosure statement here.), I checked in for the weekend and got settled in a cozy waterfront suite that couldn’t have been more perfect.

About Caribbean Shores

Caribbean Shores Hotel & Cottages in Jensen Beach, Florida

Images by Beth Santos.

The Caribbean Shores Hotel & Cottages is a 25-unit family-owned hotel in Jensen Beach. Though the building is slightly hidden from the street, it’s impossible to miss from the water — the entire building is painted a cheery Malibu pink. The hotel has both rooms and suites available as well as a series of pastel-colored pint-sized cottages with beachy names like “Sandpiper” and “Pelican.”

On site the property features a pool, a 300-foot pier, and a variety of lounge chairs at the waterfront where guests can simply relax and take in the views (which is exactly what I did). Inside the office, say hi to the owner, Fred, and have a look at some of the cute gifts for sale from local vendors.

The rooms are meticulously clean and tastefully decorated, to the point where you feel less like you’re walking into a hotel, and more like you’ve entered someone’s home. I adored the crisp white linens, the availability of ceiling fans in every room, and, of course, the unlimited Wi-Fi. Thank you, Jesus.

Despite its name, the Caribbean Shores Hotel feels about as Floridian as you can get. Its bright colors match the trend of many of the houses nearby. The decor and vibe of the space don’t try to be something they’re not, and I appreciated the grounded, homey feel.

Why Small?

The area surrounding Jensen Beach, especially Hutchinson Island, is host to many large hotels and resorts. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive, the Caribbean Shores is probably not where you want to go. But if you want to support local business, be a 10-minute walk from the cutesy shops and restaurants of downtown Jensen Beach, and have your own kitchen, you might like to consider a cottage or suite here.

Staying small is a different experience, and you’ll find yourself interacting with the hotel management more than you would at a Hilton. For people like me, that’s only a plus.

Other Local Picks

Jensen Beach, Florida

Images by Beth Santos.

Of course, there’s more to do in Jensen Beach than just sit around and watch the water (though if that’s what you come to do, we absolutely will not judge).

Jensen Beach is also home to some adorable shops and galleries, and a great breakfast joint named Jan’s Place, where you feel like the employees literally know every person that walks through their door.

I would highly recommend checking out Maple Street, where you can find The Art Cottages of Jensen Beach, a series of tiny cottages where artists set up galleries and work spaces. Nothing could be more charming than walking into the colorful mini-village of art on a warm fall day.

Now let’s hear from you! How do you support small businesses when you travel?