It’s undisputed that The Palm Beaches is a naturally magnificent place to live. Our white sand beaches are sparkling and pristine, our water is a lovely turquoise, and the natural flora of this area grows in beautiful abundance. There’s no question: if you’re a nature enthusiast or even just someone looking to get out and about every once in a while, The Palm Beaches is where you want to be. But beyond just our beaches, we’re actually home to some pretty incredible natural preserves and state parks that a lot of people don’t know about, and that beg to be explored. Take off on foot, on kayak, or even with your trusty canoe to any one of these incredible natural sanctuaries to truly appreciate the boundless beauty and grace of South Florida.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park:
Located on the northern edge of Singer Island, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is a veritable sanctuary of unique ecosystems and protected habitats. The only state park in Palm Beach, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is the perfect destination for the outdoorsman. A beautiful white sand beach area is buffeted by sand dunes: walk its many trails to discover native tortoises, herons and sandhill cranes, and so many other species unique to South Florida. Walking the Satinleaf Trail, you can visit a protected maritime hammock; or walk along the park’s boardwalk to visit the estuary, which is home to hundreds of different species of marine animals. Finally, a rock reef just off the beach makes an ideal destination for the avid snorkeler. Thousands of fish make this reef their home and snorkeling presents the perfect opportunity to view them at close range. Be sure to pack your sunscreen and a picnic lunch: the avid outdoorsman could very easily spend an entire day at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and not have seen everything!
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge:
The number of unique and exotic animal species to be encountered at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is staggering. With over 250,000 different species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, be sure to bring your camera: an encounter with someone (perhaps even the North American Alligator!) is surely in the cards. With over 144,000 acres of terrain and wetlands, there’s absolutely no way to see it all. But you can certainly gain a deep appreciation for the refuge and its inhabitants via a number of different methods. Hiking trails allow access by foot or by bicycle, and the marshy swamps of the wetlands are an ideal place to drop in a canoe or kayak for a truly close-up experience with this incredible ecosystem. Plan to make a day of your visit: there’s too much to see and too much land to cover for a quick stop-in.
Pine Glades Natural Area:
Pine Glades Natural Area is the newest of Palm Beach County’s 34 distinct natural areas dedicated to the preservation of the Treasure Coast’s natural flora and fauna. With over 7 miles of hiking/walking/biking trails, an observation dome, and miles of marshy terrain that can be taken in by canoe or kayak, there’s something here for every outdoorsman. Be sure to keep on the lookout: Pine Glades Natural Area is home to the sandhill crane, the green-winged teal, and the white-tailed deer. It’s not uncommon to see one (or all!) of these majestic creatures as you are out for a hike in the area’s trails or taking in the marsh from your kayak.
No matter where you choose to take in the natural beauty of this unique county, you’re sure to encounter something truly magnificent. With sunscreen in hand, and an openness to adventure, there’s no knowing what you might see, who you might discover, or what kind of exotic plants, animals, or ecosystems you may find. Happy exploring!