Looking for a piece of paradise? There’s no need to leave the United States. Instead, just head to Peanut Island – an immaculately maintained county park located off South Florida’s east coast. It is the ideal location for boating, snorkeling and taking advantage of the area’s tropical weather. Well-known by locals and those who visit the area, it has become a family-fun, sun-drenched staple of the region.
Overview of Peanut Island
One of the best aspects of living in South Florida is not having to wait for the weather to change to enjoy our favorite outdoor activities and attractions. While those up north are still dealing with snow, sleet, and the effects of severe sunshine deprivation, South Floridians have been soaking up the sun rays practically the entire “winter,” and enjoying places like Peanut Island.
A top spot in Palm Beach that sees year-round traffic from residents and visitors, Peanut Island is a unique tropical oasis boasting a plethora of family-friendly water and recreational activities like snorkeling, boating, and camping that highlight everything that makes living in Florida such a marvel.
I took a day trip to the island and was reminded again why it is a must-see destination for families living in, and visiting the area.
Boating at Peanut Island
Saturdays and Sundays you can expect to see the island full of locals and tourists who are taking advantage of the South Florida lifestyle by boating to the island and tying up at one of the island’s docks. Others will anchor at the sand bar.
The warm Gulf Stream waters surrounding the island become packed with boats and kayaks of all different shapes and sizes, brimming with families wading from vessel-to-vessel, and on and off of the island.
Most of these visitors are day-trippers who leave around sunset, so the nights are much quieter. If you are trying to avoid a lot of people or are looking for a more private family vacation, I’d recommend planning a trip for a weekday.
Peanut Island is so close to the mainland most people take their own boats –including kayaks and jon boats – over to the island. But there are also two companies that offer a water taxi to take guests over and back for a fee.
Some Of The Best Snorkeling In Florida
Peanut Island is known by those who live locally, and those who visit, as a go-to snorkeling spot not only in Palm Beach County, but in all of Florida. Crystal clear waters, underwater wildlife encounters and beautiful reef ecosystems captivate both novice and expert snorkelers for hours. There are protected areas for both swimming and snorkeling, giving visitors an up-close view the underwater habitats and Florida sea life – which can even include manatees, stingrays and sharks.
There is also a floating platform in the snorkeling lagoon to provide a new perspective for viewing the reef. Nearly all times of the year people – including children – can be seen snorkeling and swimming in the lagoon.
While there are many companies that offer snorkel trips to the island, you can save that money if you have your own gear – and have an even better time exploring for yourself!
Exploring Peanut Island
Most people come to Peanut Island for the multitude of opportunities presented for activities on the water, however history and nature buffs also flock to the county park.
There are well-maintained walking paths throughout the landscape that connect you to every attraction and provide great exercise in a tropical, Florida setting. Those interested in a little Florida history or an educational experience for the kids will enjoy a few features of the island most people forget about.
The Palm Beach Maritime Museum, which was previously a U.S. Coast Guard Station, and an underground bunker created for President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War are both open to the public to explore for an additional fee.
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Make sure you plan ahead if you want to visit the historical sites, which are not maintained by Palm Beach County, to ensure they will be open the day you decide to visit.
Camping In Florida at Peanut Island
Camping in Florida can be a unique experience. If you do make it out to Peanut Island, consider making it a night or weekend trip by booking one of the island’s 20 campsites. Just be sure to book in advance, because the limited spots tend to fill up quickly.
If you can get one though, each offers its own beautiful vantage point of the island, and the sites are nestled among lush, tropical landscaping that is well-maintained. Every camping site also comes equipped with a tent pad, grill and picnic table, and is within close proximity to a bathroom facility with hot showers, a pavilion with picnic tables and a community campfire ring.
Camping at Peanut Island is perfect for both small families and large gatherings of people wanting to try a little beachside camping. But beware; space between sites is tight, so you will be close to your neighbors.
On last piece of advice – there is nothing for sale on the island except for campfire wood, so double check your packing list to be sure you bring everything you need with you on your boat or the water-taxi (which you should factor into your budget if you don’t have transportation of your own).
Brief History of Peanut Island
Peanut Island was created in 1918 as a result of the material that was excavated during the creation of the Lake Worth Inlet and was originally only a 10-acre island.
Most people think the name Peanut Island is derived from its shape, but actually, the island was originally going to be used as a terminal for shipping peanut oil. Although the plans were terminated, the name stuck.
The easily-accessible island paradise is now an 80-acre man-made sanctuary that sits at the opening of the Lake Worth Inlet. It was used by the Port as a spoil site to maintain the inlet and as a shipping canal before the northern half was sold to the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND). Its use as a spoil site for dredging has continued, but the Port Authority and FIND have worked to make the island a beautiful park for local and visiting families to continue to relish, and make ever-lasting memories at.
This post was written by Kelli McDaniel.