Palm Beach’s historic Peanut Island offers recreation and relaxation
Ariel view of the beaches at Peanut Island on Memorial Day weekend.
Photo by Sky View Photography
Near the mouth of the Lake Worth Inlet, the 80-acre Peanut Island is one of six islands in Palm Beach County. Home to Peanut Island Park, it boasts plenty of activities for families or solo beach lovers looking for a tropical escape any day of the week.
The island is accessible only by water taxi, shuttle or private boat. Two private water taxi services are available: the Peanut Island Shuttle Boat and the Palm Beach Water Taxi. For those taking private boats, the island has a marina. The island is on the quieter side until the weekend, when boaters head to the beach and party (alcohol is permitted in the park).
Since a $13 million renovation completed in 2005, Peanut Island Park’s amenities include picnic tables, grills, group pavilions, outdoor showers, three restrooms and lifeguards.
The park has 17 campsites, each featuring a tent pad, grill and picnic table. The camping facility includes hot indoor showers and a sizable fire ring. Reservations are required, and campers may stay a maximum of three nights. Campers can sign up for a three-night stay once every two months. The fee is $28 (plus tax) for one night in a single campsite. One tent and six campers are allotted per site, and campers must have their tents set up before sunset.
Pets on leashes (even in the water) are permitted in the park. Campers are allowed two pets per site. Doggie bag dispensers are available throughout the park, and owners are expected to clean up after their critters.
Around the perimeter of the island, a 1.25-mile walking trail offers a chance to connect with the native fauna. Motorized and wheeled vehicles are prohibited on the trail, encouraging visitors to slow down and smell the flowers and gumbo limbo trees.
Along the walking trail is a bomb shelter built for President John Kennedy in 1961. The bunker was completed in seven days but was never used by Kennedy, though he and his first lady did visit Peanut Island. The shelter closed indefinitely to visitors in October 2017, but the building and surrounding island remain part of history.
Peanut Island features a snorkeling lagoon along the southeastern shore. Gear can be rented on the island. Because of the rocky nature of the beach and snorkeling area, water shoes may help snorkelers navigate the waters better. Marine creatures appear in the lagoon year-round, but the winter is an excellent time to catch a glimpse of manatees.
Other activities include kayaking, fishing and exploring the island’s boardwalk, which spans over 200 feet and crosses a mangrove stand.
Built in 1918, the island was created during dredging for the Lake Worth Inlet. Its name comes from a proposal that never stuck to transport peanut oil shipments from the island. Once it was abandoned in 1946, the island became a popular party destination for boaters. Palm Beach County created the park in 1999, and the island outside of the park still serves as a dredging repository, meaning it continues to grow.