John D MacArthur Beach
John D MacArthur Beach State Park
Offers One of Florida's Most Beautiful Beaches
General Description: Spend the day snorkeling along almost 2 miles of pristine South Florida beach at John D MacArthur Beach State Park. Afterwards (or before), explore 325 acres of sub-tropical splendor.
N 26.82000 deg, W 80.04167 deg
On A1A, 2.8 miles south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and PGA Boulevard. As the crow flies: 6.75 miles NNE of West Palm Beach on A1A.
Finishing point: Same place
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
561-624-6950, 10900 State Road 703 (A1A), North Palm Beach, Florida 33408
John D MacArthur Beach State Park, a 325-acre sub-tropical preservation, boasts almost 2 miles of pristine South Florida beach. Further, the Gulf Stream, which comes closest to the U.S. mainland near here, helps make these ocean waters some of the clearest in the state.
A rock reef just off the beach provides excellent snorkeling when the visibility is not reduced by occasional rough surf. Underwater visibility can range from 6 or 8 feet to perhaps 100 feet on a day when the ocean is calm. Tropical fish such as the sergeant-major on the left, and the juvenile french angelfish on the right add to the reef's color.
Dive flags are required for snorkelers. If you don't have a flag, rent one at the park's Nature Center, which you should check out anyway on your way to the beach. The wildlife displays there are well done and absolutely worth while.
Guided Snorkeling Tour
You can sign up for a Saturday morning guided reef tour, which is a good way to be introduced to the park's snorkeling area. It begins with a 20-minute program on the types of marine wildlife you may see, such as this school of porkish. After a few safety tips, you're on your way to the water. To be assured of a place on the tour, sign up in advance.
Other guided tours
In addition to snorkeling, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park offers guided kayak tours and guided butterfly and birding walks.
The kayak tours sometimes allow closer contact with the park's wildlife. You may see manatees, rays, dolphins, not to mention an array of interesting birds such as roseate spoonbills which feed in the flats. Their pink feathers and spoon-shaped bill make observing them a sheer delight. Kayakers sometimes stop at historic Munyon Island, which once hosted a lavish tourist resort. But fire destroyed the resort in 1915, and nature has since reclaimed the island.
Make arrangements for a butterfly walk or a bird walk at the Nature Center. It's best to call in advance.
One of Florida's last remaining coastal hardwood hammocks
One of John D MacArthur Beach State Park's most interesting features is its lush sub-tropical coastal hardwood hammock and it's cool, shaded trails. Once, such places were common, but relentless land development has taken its toll in this part of the state.
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