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Peanut Island, Riviera Beach Florida

Updated: Jul 18

Ariel view of Lake Worth Inlet and Peanut Island

South side ariel view of Peanut Island

Accessible only by boat, Peanut Island, located just inside the Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach of Palm Beach County, is one of my all time favorite places to visit and many other agree as Peanut Island is one of the best snorkeling destinations in all of Florida with crystal clear water teeming with an abundance of underwater sea life.

Boaters, snorkelers, scuba divers, beach goers and even campers flock to the island by the droves to take in all this 79 acre, man made island, has to offer. Sandhill Charters is located mere minutes from Peanut Island which means interested private charters can explore the Island for everything it has to offer as part of your customized trip options. Once you set foot and explore the island once, it will most definitely be a spot you will want to return to as often as possible.

Black and White ariel image of early days of Peanut Island, Inlet and Port of Palm Beach

A little history about the Island. Originally named the Inlet Island, it was constructed in 1918 towards the conclusion of World War I by means of dredging the area to create the Port of Palm Beach along with the deep and wide inlet. The Port of Palm Beach received ownership of island in 1923, 5 years after its construction, and has remained the owner ever since. The island, renamed, received its current name, Peanut Island, after it was planned on being used for a peanut oil shipping operation for which the plans fell through toward the end of WW2 in 1946, and the name stuck ever since. In 2005 a massive $13-million renovation took place which created among other things, camping sites, man made reef/snorkeling lagoon and a pier and most of what you can see there today and another planned renovation approved at the beginning of 2022

Entrance to JFK bunker on Peanut Island, Riviera Beach

During John F. Kennedy's presidency and shortly after his election in 1960, the US Navy quickly and secretly constructed a blast shelter on the island during the escalations of the Cuban Missile Crisis as Kennedy frequented nearby in Palm Beach. Though never used for its built purpose Kennedy did frequent the bunker for training operations. After the bunker became declassified and decommissioned, the bunker later became open to public tours and on the floor is one of two presidential seals found in Florida, which required special permission from the White House to be used.

The only other presidential seal is located in Key West at the former Little White House of Harry S. Truman.

Inside view of Presidential bunker on Peanut Island

The bunker has since fallen into disrepair after the end of a land lease agreement and is unfortunately no longer open to public tours at the time of writing this article. The great news however is, as recently as January 2022, Palm Beach County has approved a measure to take over the land lease, spend $6-$8-million on restoration projects and have plans to finish the restoration project over the next 2-3 years to make the bunker available for tours once again. (for a small fee). While I know the bunker is on the list of restoration projects, its my hope the historical Coast Guard Station and south side docks are part of that project as well. There is still a lot of potential this man made Island has to offer to the general public due to its overwhelming popularity and I am excited to see how it can be utilized to its' fullest potential.

Historical Coast Guard Station on Peanut Island

Overall the park is packed with options for spending the day. It can get quite crowded on the weekends but you'll always find a spot to set up with beach access on the North, East and West sides. However, if you prefer a quieter time, weekdays and mornings you'll find that you practically have the island to yourself. If you are there for the breathtaking underwater views, high tide is the best time for snorkeling as the water is crystal clear. Low tide is just as great of a time to be underwater but the water tends to be just a bit more cloudy. Be sure to bring your underwater cameras, you won't want to miss those amazing and plentiful shots to remember for a lifetime to come. For me, the Island never gets old and viewing the marine life up close and personal is quite the experience. With Manatee Lagoon just to the Southwest of the island, its not uncommon to see manatees venture over during the height of manatee season here in Southeast Florida.

Sandbar located on North side of Island

You'll want to bring your own food and beverages as facilities for such are not available on the island but let's take a look at what this beautiful attraction has to offer.

  • There is a 1.25 mile paved trail that circles the perimeter of the island

  • multiple rinse-off showers in key locations

  • Free-day use boat docks on both the East and West side of Island

  • Huge Sandbar on the north side of the Island for anchoring up

  • Manmade snorkeling lagoon on the Southeast side that is teeming with marine life

  • Artificial snorkeling reefs

  • Covered picnic areas and plenty of charcoal grills

  • Multiple full service/enclosed bathroom facilities

  • Overnight camping with use of showers

  • Historical buildings (currently closed until renovations are complete)

  • Dog friendly

  • Observation pier

There are many ways to get to the island either by water taxi, kayak, your own boat or jetski or if you book a trip with Sandhill Charters based out of Loggerhead Marina in Riviera Beach, Peanut Island can be a stop along the way. In any regard, this is a destination you don't want to miss!

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