MacArthur Beach 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, 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
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.
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 State PPark
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
- The website for MacArthur Beach State Park, which is at 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive, North Palm Beach.
- Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park.
- Munyon Island kayak trip at MacArthur Beach
More things to do near MacArthur Beach State Park:
- Howley’s, an authentic 1950s diner in West Palm Beach
- Lake Trail, a bike trail on the elite island of Palm Beach
- Bike trails at Riverbend Park in Jupiter
- Kayaking and canoeing the Loxahatchee
- Snorkeling and historic Kennedy bunk on Peanut Island
- Hiking and biking at Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach
Updated Augusts 2018