A beach on Peanut Island, Florida

Peanut Island, Florida

Peanut Island is easily one of the best beaches in Florida. Some locals visit every weekend, and say they never get bored with it. The island is small, but has something for everyone. It’s quiet and peaceful during the week, and a lively boat/beach party spot on weekends and holidays. It’s a great place for all ages.
 
Young children love splashing around the shallow, calm and clear sandy beach. Older kids love snorkeling and the tropical, exotic schools of fish. It’s common to see stingrays and other sea life, including manatees in the winter.
 
And, adults and parents love the cost!

Cost of Peanut Island

Peanut Island can be a nice, affordable break from the expensive surrounding areas of Palm Beach, Singer Island, Juno Beach and others. 
 
There’s a cost for the ferry ride (If you don’t have your own boat or kayak), but otherwise it’s totally free to visit Peanut Island Park. In fact, there are no stores, restaurants, or chances to spend money, even if you wanted to!
Well, there are a few chances to spend money. There is sometimes a pizza boat that’ll deliver you pizza on the island. And, you can also rent snorkel equipment and buy chips from the ferry, if you want to. 
It’s a perfect little spot to pack a cooler with grilling gear and enjoy a great, affordable beach day. Or, pack a tent and a cooler and spend a few days away from it all.
Charcoal Grill on Peanut Island
Peanut Island has picnic areas and charcoal grills spread around the island. Some are even covered!
The ferry to Peanut Island is located in the Riviera Beach Marina Village. There’s free, easy parking onsite in an overflow lot, just look for the giant signs that say “Peanut Island Parking”.
Peanut Island Parking Sign
Parking for Peanut Island is free and easy! It is in an “overflow” lot within Riviera Beach Marina. Just look for the signs.

Peanut Island Pizza Boat Delivery

Romana’s Pizza– AKA the Peanut Island Pizza Boat–uses a boat to deliver pizza from April 1 – October 1.
 
It may not always be available, so it’s best to contact them for more details.
Romana’s Pizza: (561) 506-0900.
We haven’t tried this yet, so if you do, please let us know how it goes! 

 JFK Bunker and Palm Beach Maritime Museum

Both the Peanut Island Bunker, and its former parent organization, the Palm BeachMaritime Museum, are closed. They’ve been closed since October, 2017 because the Museum’s lease expired amid disputes over site usage. It’s unclear when, or if, they’ll open again.  

Why everyone loves Peanut Island

Island Adventure

First, it’s an island, so the only way to go is by boat, which fun all by itself. Many people like to rent paddle boards at the Phil Foster Snorkel Trail and paddle over. Others like to rent kayaks at the Riviera Beach Marina and paddle over themselves. 
Kayak, Peanut Island, Florida
People love to kayak to Peanut Island after launching at the Blue Heron Bridge and Phil Foster Park.

A Florida Staycation

Peanut Island is exactly 60 miles away from the Islands of the Bahamas, so the water has a very similar feel. At high-tide beautiful, clear ocean water floods into the Palm Beach Inlet, and onto the beaches of Peanut Island.

Clear, blue water on Peanut Island, Florida
Bahama-blue water
Something about Peanut Island makes it feel like an exotic location, even though you’re only a 10 minute boat ride away from the mainland. When you’re there, it honestly feels like you’re on vacation on a beach in the Bahamas, or some other exotic Caribbean paradise.

Excellent Snorkeling

Peanut Island has crystal-clear water and great snorkeling. There are schools of exotic fish, and a respectable reef system growing. It’s possible to see starfish, rays, and even nurse sharks. 
Snorkeling in clear water Peanut Island, Florida
The best snorkeling on Peanut Island is on the south east side of the island, on man-made artificial reefs.
The tides have a strong effect on Peanut Island’s snorkeling and water clarity. It’s beautiful and clear almost all the time, but the absolute best time to go snorkeling is at high tide. Check the official NOAA West Palm Beach weather station for up-to-date tide information. 
Some people also love low tide, but for other reasons. At low tide the sandbar at the north end of the island might be exposed, which is a fun place for boats to party and for people to play with their dogs. Low tide also reveal fun treasures like tide pools and seashells!

Natural and Pristine

Peanut Island doesn’t have any houses or condos. This might sound like a weird thing to mention, but it gives the entire experience a totally different feel than almost every other beach in Florida. The community of Palm Beach protects Peanut Island closely to fight off over-development. 

Dog friendly!

To many people, this is the single best thing about Peanut Island. Dogs are not welcome on many Florida beaches, but dogs are allowed on Peanut Island! Amazingly, dogs are also allowed on the ferry to Peanut Island

A dog with lifejacket standing in water on Peanut Island, Florida
Dogs are allowed on Peanut Island, and even welcome on the shuttle boat!

Peanut Island Park

The park is very nice, with excellent facilities. Everything is well-managed and well maintained. It has almost every activity you could think of.

Activities

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling (Beach and Lagoon)
  • Beach combing
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife Watching
  • Camping
  • Grilling, picnics and cookouts

Peanut Island Facilities:

  • Three clean, full-service, enclosed bathroom facilities
  • Many outdoor rinse-off showers around the island
  • Covered picnic cabanas
  • Grills
  • Seasonal lifeguards
  • Free day-use boat docks
  • Overnight camping
  • Mangrove boardwalk 
  • Walking trail 
  • Historical buildings

Peanut Island Beach

Even though Peanut Island is small— a bit less than 80 acres— it feels much larger once you get there. Even when it’s crowded, it’s almost always easy to find a great beach spot where you can relax.

Beach on Peanut Island
Peanut Island can get crowded, but you can almost always find a quiet spot on the beach.

How to get to Peanut Island

Peanut Island is a true island, so it’s only reachable by boat.

People like to come to Peanut Island with their own boats, jet skis, kayaks and paddle boards. But, there’s a public ferry to the island, too. 

The entire process is simple, fun and easy. We loved the great views from the boat.

Parking for the Peanut Island Ferry is free, and only a block away from the departure dock at the Riviera Beach Marina Village in Palm Beach

 

Shuttle Boat Contact: 561-723-2028
Peanut Island Ferry
The Peanut Island Ferry was simple, convenient and affordable. They accept cash and credit cards.

Peanut Island Ferry Prices

  • $12: Adult 
  • $6: Child (Under 6)
  • $8: Bring kayak onto ferry
  • $2: Cold drinks 
  • $1: Snacks 
  • $12: Mask and Snorkel Rental*
  • $20: Full face mask snorkel rental*

*You must leave an ID as a deposit for snorkel rentals!

There are extra services for camping on Peanut Island, including tent rental and other special rates. Check the Peanut Island Shuttle Boat camping page for more camping information. 

Our Visit

When we arrived we parked in the Peanut Island parking section, and then walked over to the marina docks. The parking area for Peanut Island is well labeled and super easy to find. You’ll walk past cool murals, and are right next door to the Manatee Lagoon viewing center! 

Boarding the ferry

We bought our tickets from a staff member on the dock, and then walked right on to the ferry. The ferry is a large, open pontoon boat.

Boat staff makes boarding easy. There was a calf-high step up onto the boat, which might be a challenge for those with mobility issues, or poor balance. But, the staff members were super helpful, and helped everyone board.

If you have kids, or rolling beach gear, don’t worry about boarding. The staff helps families lift strollers and beach wagons, so don’t feel stressed about the boarding process!

If you have any mobility concerns it might be a good idea to call and ask.

Ferry Return Process

Once onboard, the boat captain welcomed us and told us about the return process.

He said that during the low season (The best time to travel!) the boats might run less frequently in the afternoon because there are fewer passengers. But, he said we could call if we wanted a ride, and they’d come pick us up. Or, we could just hang out on the Peanut Island dock, because they’d be back around soon anyway.

We waited a few more minutes for the boat to fill up with other passengers, and then we were off!

We cruised out of the marina and stared at beautiful super-yachts and sailboats.

Riviera Beach Marina, Palm Beach, Florida
Yachts love to visit Palm Beach and the Lake Worth Inlet

My camera zoomed from the beautiful boats, to the Bahama-blue water, kayakers, paddle boarders and tropical trees on the Island.

  • The Peanut Island Ferry runs to and from Peanut Island every 20 minutes, from 10AM-5PM.
  • The last boat goes to Peanut Island at 3:30.
  • The trip takes about 10 minutes.

There are special prices for bringing kayaks on board the ferry, and for overnight camping. 

The ferry also sell sunscreen, snacks and cold drinks.

Easy Parking

One great thing about Peanut Island is that you don’t have to fight for expensive parking! There’s free parking for Peanut Island in the Riviera Beach marina, where you catch the ferry. It’s labeled very clearly, just make sure you follow the signs and park in the right lot. You can always ask if you need help, or want to double-check. 

Peanut Island Parking
Parking for Peanut Island is easy and free. Just make sure you go to the right lot!

If you visit the island with your own boat you have a few options for boat parking. You can try your luck and hope to get a free day-use dock slip, or anchor out.

If you anchor out, there’s a 10 minute loading/unloading dock so you can offload gear and passengers before anchoring. 

Peanut Island Boat Dock
Peanut Island has free first-come, first-serve boat docks for day use. At night they are reserved for people camping in the Peanut Island campground.

Best Place on Peanut Island

The beaches on the southeast side of the island are the best for families. 

The north and west sides of the island are not as beautiful. They have smaller beaches and the water is not as clear.

Peanut Island near the Riviera Beach Marina
A beach on the north/west side of Peanut Island

That side of the island also faces the Port of Palm Beach. It has a more industrial  feel, instead of the luxurious, Bahama-blue tones of the southeast side.

Riviera Beach Marina near the Port of Palm Beach, Florida
The Port of Palm Beach, near the Riviera Beach Marina

For the best snorkeling on Peanut Island, make sure to check out the southeast part of the island. The southeast part of the island–near the Palm Beach Inlet–is the best spot for snorkeling. The man-made reef is home to schools of tropical fish, barracuda and many other types of sea life, including jellyfish. When we were there we saw a giant sting ray and awesome starfish!

It’s easy to find this section- just turn left (south) when you exit the island ferry dock.

Walkways on Peanut Island, Florida
A paved walkway runs all the way around the perimeter of the island.
Start walking along the easy concrete paved pathway. You’ll pass some covered picnic areas, rows of beautiful, towering palm and coconut trees. The campground, which is on your right.
The pathway runs parallel to a long section of beach, which covers the entire side of the island. As you walk, watch for sweet little spots where you might want to stop and set up your beach blanket and umbrella.

If you keep going you’ll come to the lagoon section, and a last bit of sand which connects the beach to the lagoon. This is my favorite part of the island. It’s quieter, the beaches are wider, the water is clearer, and the sea life is most impressive.

Beach on Peanut Island, Florida
This section at the south east part of the island is my favorite. The water is protected, and it’s right next to the snorkeling reef.

Try to find natural shade opportunities, especially around trees and unused lifeguard towers. Ants also like to hang out around trees and other structures, so check your spot for ants before settling down or pitching your beach umbrella!

Palm Trees shade a picnic table on Peanut Island, Florida
There are some covered picnic tables and grills, but also be on the lookout for natural shade, like from these palm trees!

Snorkeling and swimming

Swimming and snorkeling are two of the best and most popular activities on Peanut Island. People love it because the water is so clean and clear that it feels like a true Caribbean paradise. With white sand beaches and lush palm trees, it all feels like an exotic vacation.

Sea Life

Tropical fish to see while snorkeling, Peanut Island, Florida
Signs identify the species of tropical fish and marine life you might see while snorkeling!

While snorkeling you’re likely to find lots of cool and exotic sea-life. There are informative signs that help you identify what you see:

  • Lobsters
  • Starfish
  • Shrimp
  • Stonefish
  • Crabs
  • Manatee
  • Parrotfish
  • Stingray
  • Snook
  • barracuda
  • French Grunts
  • Pufferfish

If you’ll be swimming or snorkeling, be sure to bring water shoes. There are many areas in the water with sharp rocks. Plus, the sidewalks get hot in the Florida sun. 

There are often jellyfish, so lots of people wear rash guards to help guard against stings. Rash guards and sun shirts are great protection from the sun, too, and can save a ton of money on sunscreen. Plus, they’re better for the environment and will pollute the water or kill coral! 

Even on a weekday, during the low season, the water was busy with traffic. We saw everything from fancy super-yachts, to barely-floating tiki shacks, to sunken sailboats.

A beach on Peanut Island, near Palm Beach, Florida
Boaters love to anchor just off the beach on Peanut Island.

Be careful, especially while kayaking and swimming, of boat traffic! 

Peanut Island Lagoon

Besides the crystal-clear, excellent snorkeling off the beach, you can also snorkel and swim in a cool, unusual feature: an island lagoon!

Swimming and snorkeling in the lagoon is a unique experience. Not everyone loves it as much as beach snorkeling. But, many visitors describe it as their favorite part of the island.

The lagoon feels a bit like swimming in a pond or lake. It’s an enclosed area and slightly murky, so the visibility is not as good as it is off the beach. It’s not my favorite snorkeling on Peanut Island, but it’s still a very cool feature.

Peanut Island Manatee Lagoon
Manatees may visit the Peanut Island Snorkeling Lagoon during winter, as they search for warm water.

The lagoon can have some major attractions at the right time of year. In winter, manatees may enter the lagoon as they search for shelter in warm, protected areas of water.

Manatee Sign Peanut Island, Florida
A sign gives information about birds the Florida Manatee

 

Peanut Island Lagoon
There’s a nice dock with ladders to enter the lagoon. This area is protected by lifeguards during summer and on weekends.
There are also two awesome bridges which give an eagle-eye view over the lagoon water. It’s a great place to observe the mangrove ecosystem and the wildlife it supports.
Peanut Island Bridge over Lagoon
Two bridges on Peanut Island give great views of the mangrove habitat, and the wildlife it supports!

Be careful!

There can be a very strong current when the tide is coming in or going out. Rocks can be slippery, sharp and dangerous. Sea life like jellyfish, sea lice, and stingrays may be harmful. Aways think about your own physical abilities and level of experience, and that of your group. Always use the buddy system and always swim in front of a lifeguard! 
 
The Palm Beach Inlet is a busy, and possibly dangerous, waterway. There’s busy boat traffic almost every day of the year. Many boaters don’t know, or follow safe boating practices.
 
When you’re in a kayak, or even a paddle board, you are very low to the water. You may not be visible to someone driving a big boat, especially if they’re not paying attention, or are going too fast.
  • Always use the buddy system for kayaking, swimming and paddle boarding, or any water activity.
  • Make sure to bring something that makes you very visible.
  • Be sure to have a “safety-first” mentality, no matter what you’re doing.

What’s it like?

Peanut Island has had a wild, rowdy past. There are lots of stories, especially from the 1970’s and 1980’s, about its hard-core party scene. But, those days are long gone. It’s much more tame now that it’s managed, and alcohol is only allowed in permitted camp sites, while camping.
 
It can still get exciting during holidays, when the island fills up and is the most crowded. North beaches, where boats anchor and raft-up, are more crazy.
The south and East shore tend to be more family-oriented and picturesque.

When to Go

The island is usually less crowded on weekdays. It can become very crowded on weekends and holidays. 
If you want to have a quiet, peaceful island all to yourself, go in the morning or early afternoon during the week.
 
No matter when you go, you’ll have a great time. The island is small, but feels surprisingly large. It’s big enough that you can almost always find a relaxing spot to enjoy.

Get there early

To get the most value out of the trip it’s best to arrive early.
 
Camping on Peanut Island would be amazing! You could wake up be there first-thing in the morning, before anyone else.
 
You can claim the best spot on the beach and enjoy the morning before the sun becomes more intense. That’s also the best time to walk around the island, which can be daunting during the afternoon heat. 
 
While the sun is low in the sky it’s also a great time to take advantage of the Golden Hour, to get the best photos possible. If you get there REALLY early, or wake up early after camping overnight, you can catch a beautiful sunrise.

Pay attention to the tides!

The water around Peanut Island is always blue and clear, but it’s even better at high tide. That’s when the inlet fills with water from the Atlantic Ocean, and becomes crystal-clear. During low tide it’s still very nice, but can be slightly more cloudy, and have less pristine visibility.

Tides are very easy to predict, just use a good, up-to-date resource like NOAA’s weather reporting station at West Palm Beach.

Low tide has its advantages, too! Sandbars may be exposed offshore, which are great to explore with your dog.

Things to Do

Sample Itinerary:

  • Wake up at your campsite, or arrive early
  • Explore and walk around the island. Capture photos in best light conditions. 
  • Eat breakfast
  • Swim, snorkel and enjoy the beach
  • Cook lunch on a grill
  • Eat lunch
  • Read and take a nap in a hammock
  • Swim, snorkel and enjoy the beach
  • Catch the ferry back
  • If you’re camping, continue exploring and take sunset photos!

Palm Beach Maritime Museum and JFK Bunker

Visitors to Peanut Island used to love visiting the island’s historic sites. The Palm beach Maritime Museum and JFK bunker were must-see attractions. Unfortunately, all have been closed since 2017. It’s uncertain when or if they might open again.

Where’s the best snorkeling on Peanut Island?

The best snorkeling on Peanut Island is on the southeast part of the island.
 
The beaches on this side of the island are the largest on the island. Plus, the water is the clearest, especially at high tide. Lifeguards guard this part of the island during the summer season and on winter weekends.
 
Man-made reefs are home to schools of colorful, tropical fish. The water is crystal clear, clean and shallow. It’s generally about 4-8 feet of water, depending on distance from shore.

Staying safe while visiting Peanut Island

There are several things you must know to stay safe!

  • There can be very strong currents! Pay attention to your own physical limits and always swim or snorkel with a buddy.
  • Always stay within an arm’s reach of children.
  • Anybody who cannot swim should wear a USCG approved life jacket!
  • Consider wearing some sort of good water shoes while you’re exploring around. Many people are injured with cuts and scrapes from rocks.
  • Make sure you stay inside safe swimming areas, and always be on the lookout for boat traffic! There are too many tragic stories of people being run over by boats while swimming and snorkeling.

Be careful of pests:

  • Snakes
  • Jellyfish
  • Sea urchins
  • Stingrays
  • Mosquitos and biting flies
  • No-see-ums
  • Sea Lice

Sun Safety

The sun in Florida is intense, especially in the summer. Peanut Island can become very hot during the heat of the day.

Try to plan your day around the sun. Walk around the island early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun isn’t directly overhead. Bring a hammock and relax in the palm and coconut trees when it’s too hot to explore! 

Be sure to bring a good sun shade and effective, reef-safe sunscreen!

Exploring Peanut Island Park

Whole-Island Walking Path

A nice, paved trail runs for 1.25 around the perimeter of Peanut Island. It takes most people about 40 minutes to one hour to walk around. Only the perimeter is accessible to the public. The center of the island is still an active dredging soil deposit area.

“Behind a chain link fence and earth levee stretches a 23-acre hole ready to accept and store new spoil scooped out of boating channels by the navigation district under its waterway maintenance mission. The site contains enough space for 38,000 dump truck loads of spoil or 50 years worth of future dredging, said navigation district Director David Roach. That is how the island took shape in the early 1900s: it was built artificially as a kind of water-locked landfill for sediment.” -South Florida Sun Sentinel

The center of the island isn’t open because it’s a dumping ground for dredging material.

Mangrove Habitat

There is also a 230-foot mangrove boardwalk! Be sure to check out the fascinating mangrove ecosystem and all of the wildlife it supports!

Mangrove Habitat Lagoon Peanut Island Florida
Florida mangroves are an important and fragile ecosystem!

You’re very likely to see a variety of fish, and maybe even a manatee in the winter.

Boating

Peanut Island is a magnet for boaters in Palm Beach. Every weekend, a flotilla of boats arrives and anchors offshore of Peanut Island. Alcohol isn’t allowed on the island, so boaters like to hang out offshore. It can be great for lively people watching! 

Peanut Island Docks

There are two sets of docks on the island: one on the east side, and one on the west.

East Dock

The East dock has 14 slips for day-use. They’re all first-come, first-served. After sunset they’re reserved for campers staying on the island.

The floating dock at the end is reserved for 10 minute load/unloading only, and must remain open for the ferry boat and emergency services.

The west dock

There’s another day-use, first-come, first-served dock on the west side.

Dock Camping

It isn’t possible to camp on your boat at the docks. They’re day-use only during the day. After sunset they’re reserved for campers staying on the island. If you want to stay on your boat you can always anchor out, or use one of the neighboring marinas.

Fishing on Peanut Island

There is a fishing pier on Peanut Island, which makes it a popular fishing destination. Permits are not required for Florida residents who fish from the shore. 

Kayaking to Peanut Island

There is a kayak drop-off area in the marina and free parking. Kayaking to Peanut Island is easy. You could also launch and paddle over from the Blue Heron Bridge near Phil Foster Park. 

Cook Out

There are grills available for us on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visitors should bring their own food, water and supplies. There are no stores, restaurants or vendors on the island.

Make sure to bring good beach gear!

  • Umbrella, or shade
  • Beach chairs
  • Beach buggie
  • Hammock

Camping

Peanut Island camping is some of the best in Florida. 

Bathrooms and Showers

There are good, clean, full-service restrooms in several spots around the island.

Restroom Locations

  • East-side picnic area
  • Lagoon
  • West side tidal basin
There are many open-air rinse-off showers available to all island visitors.
There are hot-water showers, but they’re reserved for campers and locked with an access code. 

Cabanas

There are several, large, covered cabanas sprinkled around the island. These are great in case it starts raining, or if you want to get out of the sun. Each cabana had a large number of picnic tables.

When we were there a family was cooking burgers on a grill under a large cabana, it smelled delicious!

Peanut Island is one of the best beaches in Florida, and one of my top-favorite beaches of all time.

The best part of Peanut Island is the beautiful, clean and Bahama-blue water. It’s super calm water because of protected inlet.

Observation Deck

On the south-west corner of the island there’s a shaded observation deck. It gives great views of the Lake Worth Lagoon and surrounding area.

Park Rules to Know

Peanut Island Park is closed after sunset, except for registered overnight campers. 

Boat slips are first-come, first-serve during the day. After sunset they’re reserved for campers staying inside the park.

Bicycles, skateboards, etc. are not allowed

Alcohol is not allowed

History of Peanut Island

The island has a really cool history which dates back all the way to 1918. During this important time in Florida’s history, there was a lot of construction and infrastructure being built. Before it was dredged into the Lake Worth Inlet, the area was a large fresh water lake. 

Peanut Island’s Name

It’s called Peanut Island because it was built to be a port for ships carrying peanut-oil.
 
The peanut oil port plan was cancelled in 1946. The island became a dumping ground for soil dredged from the bottom of Lake Worth Lagoon, and a local party spot.

History, Renovation and Management

Like many natural areas in Florida, drunken party-people trashed the place. Pollution and litter became a major problem. Because there were no bathrooms or facilities, people used the island as a party bathroom.
 
In 2005 Palm Beach County opened Peanut Island Park, and has managed it since.

The island began as a mere 10 acres, but grew to cover 80 acres. Today it’s still growing because it’s still used as a place to deposit soil and material from dredging of the Lake Worth Inlet.

It was built with soil dredged (scooped out) while creating the Lake Worth Inlet.

Things to Bring

  • Food and drinks
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Serving Utensils
  • Condiments

Because it’s an island, you can’t run to the store for something you forgot. Make sure to bring everything you need, and start thinking about it early. Use a checklist for little things, like bbq lighters, etc. so you don’t forget.

It’s a great idea to prepare and do a test-camp at home before you go! 

Make sure you bring:

  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Snorkel gear
  • Lots of water
  • Shade for when you want to get out of the sun
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Waterproof camera polarized camera filter
  • Polarized filter for smartphone
  • Smartphone waterproof camera bag
  • Rash guard

Bring water shoes! Paved trails get hot in the sun, and there are areas with sharp rocks, especially around the water.

Jelly fish are often present, so lots of people wear rash guards to help guard against stings. Rash guards and sun shirts are great protection from the sun, too.

Top Visitor Complaints:

  • Can be crowded on weekends and holidays
  • Wanting a better waterproof camera
  • Cuts and scrapes on rocks
  • Hot feet on sidewalks
  • Ferry is relatively expensive for such a short ride
  • Snorkeling lagoon is not clear
  • Jelly fish stings
  • Strong tide currents
  • Wish would have gone earlier
  • Leaving!