There’s no denying that northern Palm Beach County abounds with marine life gold. With so many great snorkeling spots on the map, we turned to local experts Jena McNeal and Andy Earl to find out which merit a visit this summer. Here are three recommended spots to explore.
Hidden Gem: Cato’s Bridge
You won’t see this site listed first in any travel guide, but according to Jena McNeal,
senior environmental analyst and artificial reef coordinator for Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, it’s one of the best snorkeling spots there is. Cato’s Bridge is the drawbridge that takes motorists from Tequesta to Jupiter Island—and the area underneath and around the bridge is the sweet spot. “This needs to be snorkeled at slack high tide, otherwise the current is pretty strong,” McNeal says of the trail, with depths ranging from 5 to 20 feet.
Experience level: Advanced
Good to know: Hundreds of snook are visible certain times of the year, while the shallow area along the shore is home to many crabs and tropical fish.
Must-See: Phil Foster Park
Highly regarded by locals as a not-to-be-missed snorkel site, the trail at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach is made of limestone boulders and an 800-foot-long prefabricated reef. At the center of the Blue Heron Bridge in the Lake Worth Lagoon, snorkelers descend about 10 feet (high tide is best, says McNeal) to see octopi, spotted rays, starfish, manatees, and more. Parking is free on site, though McNeal advises arriving early in the morning as the lot fills up fast on weekends.
Experience level: Intermediate
Good to know: If you get in the water before high tide hits, you will likely witness a school of rainbow parrotfish coming in from offshore near the east end of the snorkel trail.
Low-key Excursion: Coral Cove
The reef at Coral Cove Park in Tequestais ideal for newer snorkelers and kids, with depths ranging from just a couple of feet to about 10 to 15 feet and a 15-acre lifeguard- protected beach. Snorkelers will come across local species like grunts and damselfish; the reef is also teeming with snook and even some juvenile green sea turtles.
Experience level: Beginner
Good to know: “Before you go out, check the surf and tide reports to make sure the ocean is not too rough,” says Andy Earl, maintenance technician at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “High tide is ultimately the better time to see marine life among other underwater sights.”