Peanut Island, Palm Beach
||Palm Beach, FL|
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Peanut Island is an interesting place to visit. Before Peanut Island existed, there was no inlet and Palm Beach was connected to Singer Island. When the Port of Palm Beach was created on the intracoastal, a dredging project created the inlet between Palm Beach and Singer Island, and the extra sand was dumped near the inlet creating Peanut Island. At first it was called Inlet Island, but when a peanut processing plant was begun on the island (before the 1928 hurricane destroyed it) the island got the name Peanut Island. Today it is a park with a lovely wide brick pathway all around it, in the shade of thick coastal hammock. Delightful picnic areas under Samoan-style huts surrounded by coconut trees are dotted about the island. On the east side of the island are pretty views of the inlet and the mansions of Palm Beach. On the south side, where a gazebo sits on the highest point (it is nice to be up high for a change in Florida!), the views of the port aren't as nice. On the southeast side is a lagoon lined with coconut trees and crossed by two bridges. It looks fun to swim around on clear-water days.A partying crowd hang out on the beach (east) side of the island on weekends, coming by boat, drinking out in the water (drinking is not allowed on the island), and playing very loud Latino music. There are pretty girls and the smell of delicious spiced BBQs but not much serenity to be had. Floating grills and bars a few meters from the shore cater to the partying crowd, and look quite unique out in the water.The beach on Peanut Island is strewn with rocks and debris, but has a cute shape to it with little rock walls and curves here and there. Wildflowers and tiny dunes add a picturesque look. The water is sometimes clear as can be (you can even see piranha and tropical fish without the need for a snorkel), and other times brown, depending on whether the locks are open to release yucky water from the inland canals after a heavy rain. The brown water is most common from spring to fall after heavy storms, and at low tide. Come at high tide when it is crystal clear! Jellyfish like yucky water the best, so on these days there are two reasons not to swim. If you don't have a boat you can get to the island by a water taxi (see price below) which leaves every half hour on the weekends- a five minute ride that is fun for kids. It leaves from Sailfish Marina and Resort, an upscale marina with a waterfront cafe.If you go to Peanut Island, don't miss out on the thirty minute tour, which you take from the Boathouse on the south side of the island. The tour leaves pretty soon after you show up for it (see days and prices below). While you wait, enjoy a fruity popsicle on the breezy patio. The tour guide is knowledgable and enthusiastic. You find out about how the island was created, and get to walk around the old Coast Guard headquarters, now a maritime museum (entered only through the tour). The Coast Guard headquarters were built in the 1930s when all Coast Guard headquarters throughout the country were built from the same blueprint, hence they are a different style of architecture but suit Florida very well nonetheless. Even their basement is ok since the ground is raised up here more than usual in Florida. Inside, the windows looking out on the sea and masses of coconuts on the trees are wonderful. You can see the mess hall and TV room. There is equipment from drug boats that have been seized by the Coast Guard, which officially used this building until 1996. After the maritime museum, you walk over with the tour guide to the Kennedy bunker. President John F. Kennedy had this built during the height of the Cold War. It was to be used in case of nuclear fallout if the president was at his "Winter White House," in Palm Beach. It was a secret for many years after his presidency but was later revealed. Inside it is musty but quite elaborate, with even a presidential seal on the ground. There are no cars on the island and you can walk around the entire island easily, even with kids!
For a park with crystal clear water and sea-life galore, check out Phil Foster Park, just north across the intracoastal from Peanut Island.
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The water taxi to Peanut Island leaves from Sailfish Marina and Resort every half hour on the weekend and also goes on weekdays, and costs $10 per person for a round trip. Children 3 and under are free. Call (561) 842-8449 for specific times.Sailfish Marina and Resort is located at 98 Lake Dr, West Palm Beach FL 33404. From Highway 95, exit at Blue Heron Blvd and follow it for four miles. After you go over the bridge, turn right on Lake Dr. The marina will be on your right and there is a large parking lot. You can park where it says "No overnight Peanut Island parking," as long as you are only staying for the day.
Half-hour tours of the old Coast Guard headquarters and Kennedy's bunker leave from the Boathouse on the south side of the island frequently. Cost is $14 per adult, $12 for seniors, and $8 per child aged 5 to 17. Children under 5 are free. Tours are available when you show up, Thurs-Sun from 11-4. Call (561) 848-2960.
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Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.