Beaches / Parks & Forests / Snorkeling / Southeast Florida

MacArthur Beach State Park: Great for snorkeling, kayaking, beach walks

MacArthur Beach offers beauty on land and water

MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach, Florida

MacArthur Beach State Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

MacArthur Beach State Park boardwalk, North Palm Beach, Florida

A long scenic boardwalk leads to MacArthur Beach.

MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach, Florida

Seashells are plentiful at MacArthur Beach State Park.

MacArthur Beach State Park

MacArthur Beach State Park invites long walks.

I love to walk on the beach almost as much as I love to swim there. And that’s one reason why John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach is such a great destination.

But there are plenty of others. With big rock outcroppings forming a reef right at the water’s edge, MacArthur Beach is that rare beach where you find great snorkeling without needing a boat or long swim. Snorkelers spot a great variety of reef creatures — reef squid, colorful tropical fish and schools of tarpon and snook. On a day where waves were too rough for snorkeling,  I saw schools of fish shimmering in the clear water as I walked.

MacArthur Beach State Park has almost two miles of beach, lined with wild sand dunes covered with native vegetation. There aren’t many beaches in southeast Florida that rival the length and beauty of MacArthur Beach.  But the rest of the park is special, too.

A scenic 1,600-foot boardwalk crosses a waterway that separates the parking lot and nature center from the beach.  A tram runs regularly; a big help for folks with lots of beach gear. The waterway is a small cove of Lake Worth, rich with estuary creatures, including oyster beds and wading birds. (In winter, you might be rewarded with a glimpse of my personal favorite, the Barbie-pink roseate spoonbill.)

Kayaking at MacArthur Beach

MarArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach, Florida

Natural dunes line MacArthur Beach.

The waterways at MacArthur Beach State Park are good for kayaking, and the park rents gear ($12 an hour for a single; $30 for a half day.)

The park offers one of my favorite kinds of kayak trails – a trip to an island reachable only by boat. To make it better, it’s an historic island with an interesting story.

Add to that numerous ospreys swooping overhead, a shaded walk through a forest of native vegetation and some deserted little beaches, and you have the recipe for a great day in a kayak.

MacArthur Beach State Park Munyon Island sandy point

A sandy point on the northeast end of Munyon Island, reachable only by boat. (Photo: David Blasco)

Here’s our trip report on the kayak trail to the park’s Munyon Island, a historic and scenic destination.

MacArthur Beach also features picnic grounds, a playground and a nice short hike, the Satinleaf Nature Trail. (If you don’t know the satinleaf tree, it’s worth taking the walk to admire its bronze-satin leaves.)

MacArthur Beach State Park is named for its previous owner, the philanthropist John D. MacArthur, who donated this treasure, 438 acres, to be a public park.

 

Resources for a visit to MacArthur Beach

Parking: Ample and no extra charge beyond park admission

Fees: $5 per vehicle, up to eight people. $4 single occupant or motorcycle.

Alcohol: Not allowed.

Pets: On leashes, but not at beach.

Location: 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive, North Palm Beach.

Useful information for visiting MacArthur Beach State Park

More things to do near MacArthur Beach State Park:

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3 Comments

  1. Beach potato says:

    I remember as a kid when Mr. Mac set this property aside for his use, liked to go swimming in the nude….. it was a nude beach back in the day and used by many. The Sheriff liked to send in his Deputies on occasion but Mr. Mac stopped that. Now its a beautiful unspoiled area of Florida. This and Merritt Island refuge just north of NASA are the only true Florida left.

  2. What a great idea! For those of us who are looking to know more about the natural, real Florida this site is a jewel.

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