Headed to the beach? We found some of the best ones to enjoy without the usual crowds. Relax and have fun!
1. CORAL COVE PARK
Vital statistics: 15 acres, 600 feet of guarded beach, open sunrise to sunset
The primary draw of this quiet beach – the county’s northernmost — is the snorkeling. With clear waters and multiple rock formations within wading distance of shore, Coral Cove allows you to swim with the tropical fishes, sting rays and seahorses. In addition to its guarded beach, Coral Cove also offers 600 feet of Intracoastal Waterway
frontage that’s paddleboard-perfect.
Coral Cove Park: 1600 S. Beach Road, Tequesta; 561-624-0065
2. JOHN D MACARTHUR STATE PARK
Vital statistics: 438 acres, two miles of unguarded beach, open 8 a.m. to sunset
Admission: $5 per vehicle (limit two to eight people), $4 per single-occupant vehicle, $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists or extra passengers
The only state park in Palm Beach County, MacArthur truly is a local treasure. A 1,600-foot boardwalk carries you from an exhibit-filled nature center to a beach of untamed, abiding beauty. From certain vantage points on the boardwalk, you can block out all signs of civilization and imagine what it was like to be an early settler plying these waters. And if your party isn’t up to the walk, trams will ferry you between parking lot and beach. Reef and rock outcroppings in shallow water near the park a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers hoping to see squid, schools of snook and colorful tropical fish.
John D. MacArthur State Park: 11611 Ellison Wilson Rd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-624-6950
3. OCEAN RIDGE HAMMOCK PARK
Vital statistics: Eight acres, 1100 feet of unguarded beach, open sunrise to sunset
What this low-key beach lacks in amenities – it doesn’t have restrooms, and it’s one of only two Palm Beach County beach parks without lifeguards (the other is Jupiter’s Ocean Cay) – it makes up for with the singularly beautiful trail that zig-zags to the beach through dense coastal hammock. Walking through it feels like you’ve entered a fairy tale set in South Florida.
Ocean Ridge Hammock Park: 6620 N. Ocean Blvd., Ocean Ridge; 561-276-3990
4. GULFSTREAM PARK
Vital statistics: Seven acres, 600 feet of guarded beach, open sunrise to sunset
Gulfstream Park is often referred to as “a hidden gem,” thanks to its low profile and small size. The well-manicured park area is packed with shady picnic tables, grills, a play area and swings for toddlers.
Nearby points of interest: Grab huge, handcrafted sandwiches to go at Seaside Deli & Market. Forget your
sunscreen or want to pick up a skim board? Pop into friendly Nomad Surf Shop, a local landmark since 1968.
Gulfstream Park: 4489 N. Ocean Blvd., Boynton Beach; 561-629-8775
5. ATLANTIC DUNES PARK
Vital statistics: Seven acres, 450 feet of guarded beach, open 8 a.m. to sunset daily
Parking: $1.50 per hour
The main attraction: If you prefer solitude and serenity to the busier scene on Delray’s primary beach, Atlantic Dunes is for you. And you’ve got two ways to reach the beach from Ocean Boulevard. The most direct route is the wide boardwalk. The other, marked by a small sign bearing the image of a blue stick figure, is a hard-packed, 300-foot nature trail that leads you through a tropical hammock. The live oaks and seagrapes can get so dense that you might need to lift your sunglasses to see the path ahead.
Atlantic Dunes Park: 1605 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561-243-7250