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

Last updated on April 21st, 2021 at 07:54 am

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

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.

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)

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.

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.)

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)

Kayaking at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

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.

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)

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 with 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.

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.

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)

Useful links for visiting John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

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

Updated Augusts 2018

From the Editor:

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

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