Peanut Island, Florida
Cost of Peanut Island
Peanut Island Pizza Boat Delivery
JFK Bunker and Palm Beach Maritime Museum
Why everyone loves Peanut Island
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Snorkeling (Beach and Lagoon)
- Beach combing
- Wildlife Watching
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a true Caribbean paradise. With white sand beaches and lush palm trees, it all 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
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
When to Go
Get there early
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.
Things to Do
- 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?
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:
- Sea urchins
- Mosquitos and biting flies
- Sea Lice
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.
There is also a 230-foot mangrove boardwalk! Be sure to check out the fascinating mangrove ecosystem and all of the wildlife it supports!
You’re very likely to see a variety of fish, and maybe even a manatee in the winter.
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 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.
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
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.
- East-side picnic area
- West side tidal basin
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.
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
History, Renovation and Management
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
- Serving Utensils
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