Peanut Island Snorkeling in Florida: Kayaking and Camping
Nestled in the heart of the Intracoastal Waterway near the Lake Worth Inlet, this 80-acre tropical island is an oasis of natural beauty and intriguing history. Peanut Island may be small in size, but it’s brimming with surprises at every corner.
- History of Peanut Island
- Snorkeling lagoon
- Kayaking and paddleboarding
- Other things to do on Peanut Island
- How to get to Peanut Island?
From its pristine sandy beaches and lush tropical vegetation to its vibrant underwater ecosystem, this hidden gem promises an unforgettable journey for every visitor.
Now, you may be wondering, what makes Peanut Island a must-visit spot in Florida? Imagine snorkeling in crystal clear waters, teeming with colorful marine life, camping under the stars surrounded by the whispering palm trees, or stepping back in time as you explore a Cold War-era presidential bunker.
History of Peanut Island
Diving into the annals of history, the island, despite its name, has nothing to do with peanuts.
The quirky name was coined in the early 20th century when plans were hatched to use the island as a terminal for shipping peanut oil, a venture that never took off. However, the name “Peanut Island” stuck and added to its distinct charm.
This tropical paradise is a cornucopia of lush nature. The island is adorned with verdant palm trees and vibrant tropical foliage, creating a serene environment that invites visitors to relax and unwind.
The turquoise waters that lap against its sandy shores are as clear as crystal, presenting a fantastic opportunity to explore the vibrant marine life in their untouched habitat.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the island is its Cold War-era presidential bunker. Constructed in 1961 during the Kennedy administration, this bunker was designed as a fallout shelter for President John F. Kennedy in case of a nuclear attack while he was visiting his “Winter White House” in Palm Beach. Today, this historical relic stands as a testament to a tense chapter in world history, providing a fascinating visit for history buffs.
Arguably the most popular activity on the island is snorkeling. The clear, calm waters surrounding the island are rich with marine life, including a variety of tropical fish and vibrant coral formations.
The island’s man-made snorkeling lagoon, which is filled with tropical fish and other sea creatures, is an excellent spot for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike.
Best snorkeling spots on Peanut Island
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on the island, and the island offers some excellent spots for this underwater adventure.
The western side of the island, near the Palm Beach Inlet, is known for its man-made snorkeling lagoon. This lagoon was built using rocks to create a protective barrier against currents, providing a safe and calm environment for snorkelers. The lagoon is teeming with a variety of fish species, and it’s not uncommon to spot stingrays and manatees here as well.
The southern side of the island also provides a good snorkeling spot. Here, the waters are clear, offering high visibility for spotting the vibrant marine life that calls this area home.
Best time to snorkel at Peanut Island
While you can snorkel at the island year-round, the best time is generally during the summer months (June through September). During this time, the water temperature is warm and visibility is typically at its best.
The time of day can also impact your snorkeling experience. The optimal time to snorkel is usually during mid to outgoing tide. This is when the water tends to be the clearest, providing the best visibility for observing marine life. Remember to always check the local tide charts before planning your snorkeling adventure.
Peanut Island snorkeling tours
There are several companies that offer snorkeling tours on the island. These tours typically include equipment rental (snorkel, mask, fins, and life jacket), a safety briefing, and a guided snorkeling experience which can be helpful for beginners or those unfamiliar with the area.
For the latest prices and availability, it’s best to check the websites of local tour operators or contact them directly. Remember, prices can vary based on the length of the tour, group size, and whether equipment rental is included.
Swimming with the Manatees
Peanut Island is a popular spot for manatees, especially during the winter months when these gentle giants seek warmer waters. While it’s an incredible experience to see manatees up close, it’s crucial to remember that they are protected by state and federal law.
You should never touch or harass manatees. If you’re lucky enough to encounter them while snorkeling, maintain a respectful distance and enjoy the rare opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat.
Kayaking and paddleboarding
If you’re looking for an active and exhilarating way to enjoy the surrounding waters, kayaking and paddleboarding are excellent options. You can either bring your own gear or rent equipment from various vendors near the Riviera Beach Marina.
The journey to Peanut Island via kayak or paddleboard can typically be made in fifteen minutes or less, depending on your pace and the water conditions.
Once you reach the island, you can paddle right onto the beach at no cost and bask in the sunshine. While you’re there, you can also take advantage of the island’s amenities, including bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables, making it convenient to bring along a packed lunch.
For a different perspective of the island, consider paddling around its perimeter. This offers unique views of the shore and can be a peaceful and scenic way to explore the island’s surroundings.
For those who wish to experience the tranquility of the island under the starry night sky, camping is an excellent choice. The island features seventeen designated campsites suitable for tent camping.
Each site comes equipped with a grill and picnic table, providing a comfortable outdoor experience. Do note that to secure your spot, you’ll need to make a reservation up to ninety days in advance and pay the camping fee.
Camping on Peanut Island offers an unforgettable experience of waking up to a stunning sunrise, with the sound of gentle waves in the background and the call of native birds to greet the new day.
Other things to do on Peanut Island
The island, despite its small size, is a treasure trove of fun-filled activities and tranquil spots for relaxation. Here are some of the top things to do on this charming island:
- Swimming: The beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of the island are perfect for a relaxing swim. There are designated swimming areas that are safe for all ages, and the island’s calm waters make it a perfect spot for a refreshing dip on a hot Florida day.
- Hiking: The island features a walking path that circles the entire island, offering stunning views of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway and the West Palm Beach skyline. The trail is flat and easy to navigate, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
- Picnicking: With picnic areas and grills scattered throughout the island, you can enjoy a leisurely meal with your family or friends amidst nature. Pack your favorite picnic goodies and enjoy a meal with a view.
- Exploring the JFK Bunker: History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Cold War-era presidential bunker built for John F. Kennedy. The bunker was designed as a fallout shelter for the President in case of a nuclear attack while he was visiting his “Winter White House” in Palm Beach. Tours are offered, providing a fascinating glimpse into a tense time in American history.
- Bird Watching: The island is a haven for bird watchers. The island is home to a variety of bird species, and its unique location makes it a great spot to see migratory birds during certain times of the year.
- Fishing: With a Florida fishing license, you can try your hand at fishing in the waters surrounding the island. You might catch anything from snapper to barracuda.
What to bring for the island snorkel trip
Packing the right items can make your snorkeling trip more enjoyable. Here’s a basic list of what to bring:
- Snorkeling Gear: Mask, snorkel, and fins are essential. Some people also prefer to wear a flotation device for safety.
- Sun Protection: Florida sun can be intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Consider a rash guard or other UV-protective clothing for additional sun protection while in the water.
- Water and Snacks: Snorkeling can be tiring. Stay hydrated and energized with water and snacks.
- Towel and Change of Clothes: For drying off and changing after your snorkel adventure.
- Waterproof Camera: If you want to capture images of the vibrant marine life.
- First Aid Kit: Basic first aid items can come in handy for minor injuries.
- Identification and Cash: For water taxi fare, food, or any other expenses on the island.
Is Peanut Island good for snorkeling?
Absolutely! The island is renowned for its excellent snorkeling opportunities. The clear waters, abundant marine life, and the man-made snorkeling lagoon make it a popular destination for snorkeling enthusiasts of all skill levels.
How much does it cost to go to Peanut Island?
Access to the island and its snorkeling spots is free, but there may be costs associated with getting to the island, such as water taxi fare. If you don’t have your own snorkeling gear, you can rent equipment from local vendors.
The cost of rentals varies, so it’s best to check with individual providers for their current rates. Additionally, if you choose to join a guided snorkeling tour, there will be a fee associated with that, which also varies depending on the provider. Always check the most current prices with service providers directly.
How to get to Peanut Island?
Reaching the island is an adventure in itself, and there are a few different ways to get there, each offering its own unique experience.
- By Water Taxi: The most common and convenient method is via water taxi. Numerous services operate from Riviera Beach, located near the Port of Palm Beach. Water taxis generally operate on a schedule, shuttling visitors back and forth from the mainland to the island. It’s a short but scenic ride, often filled with beautiful views of the surrounding waterway and the Florida coastline.
- By Private Boat: For those with access to a private boat, the island is a popular destination for day trips. There are designated areas around the island where boats can drop anchor, allowing you to disembark and explore at your leisure. If you’re an avid boater, this is a great option that allows you the freedom to come and go as you please.
- By Kayak or Paddleboard: For the more adventurous, kayaking or paddleboarding to the island is an option. There are several places in the nearby city of Riviera Beach or Palm Beach Shores where you can rent equipment. It’s a fun and active way to reach the island, but it’s best suited for those with some experience in water sports as the currents can be strong.
- By Jet Ski: Jet Ski rentals are also available from various watersport rental companies in the area. It’s a thrilling way to get to the island while also enjoying the open water.
In conclusion, Peanut Island in Florida offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and exciting outdoor activities. Whether you’re snorkeling in the vibrant lagoon, paddling around the island’s perimeter, or camping under the stars, the island offers unforgettable experiences for everyone.
With a variety of ways to get there, including ferries and personal watercraft, an adventure-filled day on Peanut Island is just a short journey away.