Last updated on September 20th, 2020.
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 the whole family, and all ages. Kids love playing in clear, clam water. Older kids and adults love snorkeling and the tropical, exotic schools of fish. It’s common to see tropical fish, stingrays, starfish, and other sea life. In the winter, you might even see manatees!
- Three clean, full-service, enclosed bathroom buildings
- Outdoor rinse-off showers are scattered around the island
- Covered picnic cabanas
- Charcoal grills
- Seasonal lifeguards
- Free day-use boat docks
- Overnight camping in designated areas
- Snorkeling lagoon
- Artificial snorkeling reefs
- Mangrove boardwalk
- Walking trail
- Historical buildings (Closed)
Peanut Island is small— a bit less than 80 acres— but it feels much larger once you get there. Even when it’s crowded, you can almost find a great beach spot.
What’s it like?
Overall, Peanut Island Park is exceptionally nice, with excellent facilities. Everything is well-managed and well maintained. It has almost every beach activity you could think of.
- Snorkeling (Beach and Lagoon)
- Beach combing
- Wildlife Watching
- Grilling, picnics and cookouts
Peanut Island doesn’t have any houses or condos. This might sound like a weird thing to mention, but it’s an unusual feature for Florida beaches. 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.
Peanut Island feels 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.
Actually, that’s not really surprising. Peanut Island is only 60 miles away from the Islands of the Bahamas, so the water has a very similar feel.
Peanut Island has beautiful, clear water almost all the time, but it’s best if you can catch it at a particular time of day. At high-tide beautiful, clear ocean water floods into the Palm Beach Inlet, and onto the beaches of Peanut Island.
Peanut Island Park Facilities
There are good, clean, full-service restrooms in three spots around Peanut Island. There are also many open-air rinse-off showers available to all island visitors.
- East-side picnic area
- Snorkeling Lagoon
- West side tidal basin
There are hot-water showers near the east-side picnic area, but they’re reserved for campers, and locked with an access code.
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, and some have charcoal grills under shade.
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.
Why everyone loves Peanut Island
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.
Are dogs allowed on Peanut Island?
Yes! Dogs are allowed on Peanut Island, as long as they are on a leash which is 6 feet long, or shorter.
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.
Costs of Visiting Peanut Island
Peanut Island can be a nice, affordable break from the expensive surrounding areas of Palm Beach, Singer Island, Juno Beach and others.
Peanut Island Park is 100% free, except for the ferry ride if you don’t have your own boat or kayak to reach the island. In fact, there are no stores, restaurants, or chances to spend money, even if you wanted 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.
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.
Best times to visit Peanut Island
The best time to visit Peanut Island will depend on what you want from your visit.
The island is usually less crowded on weekdays. It can become very crowded on weekends and holidays, especially around sand bar on the the north end of the island.
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.
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 tides have a strong effect on Peanut Island’s snorkeling and water clarity. The water in the Lake Worth Inlet 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 truly 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.
Check the official NOAA West Palm Beach weather station for up-to-date Peanut Island 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 frisbee with their dogs.
Low tide also reveal fun treasures like tide pools and seashells!
How to get to Peanut Island
Peanut Island is a true island, so it’s only reachable via water. Most people come either with their own boat, or the Peanut Island ferry.
If you don’t have your own boat, I highly recommend the ferry/shuttle boat. The entire process is simple, fun and easy, and we love the great views from the boat.
Peanut Island Ferry
- The Peanut Island ferry is located inside the Riviera Beach Marina Village.
- The 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.
The boats are nice, large and open pontoon boats.
The trip lasts about 10 minutes, and is very nice. It gives you the chance to see a bit of the surrounding area from a different perspective. There are great views of water-front mansions, luxury motor yachts and beautiful sailboats. The clear, blue water is fun to watch, and you might get lucky and see dolphins, too!
The ferries run less frequently during the slow season, so you might have to wait a few extra minutes for the boat to fill up. If you’re waiting on the island you can call the ferry’s phone number and they’ll come pick you up. Or, just wait and it’ll be around soon. There are benches and lots of shady spots on the island, so it’s not a bad place to wait.
The parking area for Peanut Island is free, well labeled and super easy to find. The parking lot is a very short walk from the ferry dock, and you’ll walk past cool sea-life murals. Plus, you’re right next door to the Manatee Lagoon viewing center!
Reservations are not required, you just show up at the dock. They accept cash and credit cards.
After buying your ticket you’ll be helped aboard by a crew member.
The ferry sits up higher than the dock, about calf-high.
If you have kids, or rolling beach gear, don’t worry about boarding. The friendly staff help families lift strollers and beach wagons, so don’t feel stressed about the boarding process!
If you have wheelchair needs or other mobility questions I’d be sure to call and ask before you go.
Peanut Island Shuttle Boat
Shuttle Boat Contact: 561-723-2028
Peanut Island Ferry Prices
- 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.
Peanut Island Parking
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”.
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.
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.
Things to Do on Peanut Island
Swim and Snorkel
The best swimming and 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.
Walk around the Island
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 because center of the island is still an active dredging soil deposit area.
Have a picnic
There are many picnic tables and free charcoal grills available for us on a first-come, first-served basis. Some are under large, covered picnic areas, and some are open and in full sun.
Visitors should bring their own food, water and supplies. There are no stores, restaurants or vendors on the island!
Peanut Island Sandbar
A shallow sandbar at the north end of Peanut Island is a popular weekend hangout and party spot. People gather there because it’s not technically considered part of Peanut Island, and so alcohol flows freely. Especially on weekends, the area can get rowdy with hundreds of boats, loud music and more. Police boats patrol the area to try and keep things reasonably peaceful.
- Arrive early, or wake up at your campsite
- Explore and walk around the island. Capture photos in best light
- 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!
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.
Fish you might find:
Maritime Museum and JFK Bunker
Peanut Island visitors used to love 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.
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.
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.
It’s not 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.
Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
Peanut Island—and the Lake Worth Inlet in general—are great and popular kayaking and paddle boarding spots. Kayak and paddle board rentals are available at the Riviera Beach Marina.
If you bring your own, there is a kayak drop-off area in the Riviera Beach marina, and free parking in the overflow lot.
Kayaking to Peanut Island is easy because it’s very close. Just be careful for boat traffic! You could also launch from Phil Foster Park and paddle over, which is a very popular route.
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.
Peanut Island Floatopia
In years past, Peanut Island has been home to a national float-party craze called Floatopia.
The event began in California, and quickly spread to satelite locations all around the country. The event was famous for becoming unruly, even by Peanut Island party standards. Local officials and residents have asked for the unofficial event to not be held at Peanut Island in the future.
The best beaches
The best family beaches are on on the southeast side of the island. There, the water is the clearest, and the sandy beaches are the biggest and nicest. Depending on the wind, it’s probably the most sheltered and calmest for swimming, too.
The north and west sides of the island are not as beautiful. They have smaller beaches and the water is not as clear.
That side of the island also faces the Port of Palm Beach, which has a more industrial feel. For luxurious, sandy beaches and Bahama-blue water, stick to the east and southeast sides.
The southeast part of the island–near the Palm Beach Inlet–is the best spot for snorkeling. The water is crystal clear, and loaded with schools of exotic fish in a respectable reef system. It’s common to see starfish, barracuda and stingrays. If you’re lucky you might even see nurse sharks or manatees.
It’s easy to find this section- just turn left (south) when you exit the island ferry dock.
Start walking along the easy concrete paved pathway. You’ll pass some covered picnic areas, rows of beautiful, towering palm and coconut trees. The Peanut Island campground will be 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.
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!
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 an exotic vacation.
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:
- French Grunts
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.
There are nice docks and ladders to enter the lagoon. Lifeguards patrol the area during the summer season, and on weekends during the winter.
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.
There are also two awesome bridges, and a 230-foot mangrove boardwalk!
These all give an eagle-eye view over the lagoon water and mangrove habitat. It’s a great place to observe the mangrove ecosystem and the wildlife it supports. You’re very likely to see a variety of fish, and maybe even a manatee in the winter.
Palm Beach Maritime Museum and JFK Bunker
Both the Peanut Island JFK Bunker, and its former parent organization, the old Peanut Island Coast Guard Station, 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.
Pizza Delivery Boat
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!
Staying Safe on 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.
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.
Always stay within an arm’s reach of children, and always watch them closely.
Anybody who cannot swim should wear a USCG approved life jacket!
Consider wearing good water shoes while you’re exploring around. Many people are injured with cuts and scrapes from rocks.
Be careful of pests:
- Sea urchins
- Mosquitos and biting flies
- 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!
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!
Be very careful of boat traffic, especially while kayaking, snorkeling and swimming!
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’re 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 on the island.
Things to Bring
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. It’s always a great idea to prepare and do a test at home before you go!
Use a checklist for little things, like bbq lighters, etc. so you don’t forget. Here’s a list of basic things to get started.
- Food and drinks
- Serving Utensils
Bring good beach gear!
- Umbrella, or shade
- Beach chairs
- Beach blanket
- Beach buggie or wagon with sand-safe wheels
- 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
History of Peanut Island
Why is it called Peanut Island?
Many people assume it’s because of the island’s shape, or maybe small size. But, neither are true. The island got its name because it was originally going to be used as a port, to service ships carrying peanut-oil.
The project began in the early 1900’s. At that time, lots of infrastructure was being built in Florida, including the creation of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), the Lake Worth Inlet, and the Lake Worth Lagoon.
The peanut oil port plan was cancelled in 1946, but the island was used to dump soil, dug from the bottom of Lake Worth Lagoon.
At first Peanut Island was only 10 acres large, but over time it’s grown to cover 80 acres. Today the center of the island is still used as a dumping ground for soil dredged from the Lake Worth Lagoon and Inlet.
For most of its life Peanut island has been a popular local party spot.
Like many beautiful natural areas in Florida, there’s a sad history of drunken party-people trashing the place. Pollution and litter became a major problem. Because there were no bathrooms or facilities, people used the island as their bathroom.
In 2005 Palm Beach County opened Peanut Island Park, and has managed it since.
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