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

Last updated on September 9th, 2021 at 08:53 am

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park offers beauty on land and water

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, this 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.

John D MacArthur Beach State Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

John D. 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.

Seashells are plentiful at John D MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Seashells are plentiful at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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 John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

John D MacArthur Beach State Park Munyon Island sandy point
A sandy point on the northeast end of Munyon Island, reachable only by boat at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: David Blasco)

The waterways at MacArthur Beach State Park are good for kayaking, and the park rents gear at reasonable rates.

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.

Here’s our trip report on the kayak trail to the park’s Munyon Island, a historic and scenic destination within John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.

Newly added to the many activities available MacArthur Beach State Park is stand up paddleboard rentals. SUPs rent for $20 for the first hour or $30 for two hours from High Point Paddle Adventures. Details on SUP rentals are here.

A long scenic boardwalk leads to the beach at John D MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
A long scenic boardwalk leads to the beach at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Other things to do at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

  • MacArthur Beach features a short (one third mile) 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.
  • Picnic tables and a playground area available at the north end of the park (near the Satinleaf Trail.) Two picnic pavilions are availble for rent.
  • The small nature center has a sea turtle tank, a mangrove aquarium and several other exhibits.

Planning a visit to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

John D. 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.

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 links for visiting John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, North Palm Beach, Florida
Natural dunes line the shore at John D.. MacArthur Beach State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

More things to do near John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

This article is the property of FloridaRambler.com and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.


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Harvey

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

Years ago... Before the State of Florida ruined it there was natural vegetion, hiking trails and Free parking. On Sundays this was the in place to see and be seen. Many of Palm Beaches brat pack would show up after a late night at the discotheques. Originally called "The Air Force Beach"

Beach potato

Thursday 13th of April 2017

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.

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