A drone photo looking up a sandy beach at a boat dock, several boats anchored off shore and a city skyline in the distance

The Best Things to Do on Peanut Island, Florida

Peanut Island is a tropical oasis right in Palm Beach with beautiful beaches and clear waters perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing. Here are all the best things to do on Peanut Island.

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Just over one hundred years ago, Peanut Island didn't even exist.

The 80 acre island is completely man-made, the result of dredging projects to open a shipping channel.

And a tropical beach destination with mature palm trees and diverse wildlife isn't exactly what you'd expect for a piece of land once used to dump spoils, but Peanut Island has quite a history.

Today it's a local favorite for recreation. Pristine waters with artificial reefs attract a constant flow of visitors for snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing.

We were personally drawn here for a unique tent camping experience.

Whether you're interested in a day of fun on the beach, in the water, or a weekend getaway to this little slice of tropical paradise, there's plenty on offer. In this guide we're sharing all our favorite things to do on Peanut Island and how to get there.

The Best Things to do on Peanut Island

Snorkel the Artificial Reef and Lagoon

Between its natural springs, a prehistoric cave, and of course, Biscayne National Park, Florida has plenty of unique snorkeling to choose from. But if you'd like the experience of swimming among diverse sea creatures without heading out into open water, Peanut Island is one of the best places to do it.

A chain of man-made artificial reefs lie just off the shore along the eastern side of the island.

This is where you're sure to encounter schools of colorful fish and other wildlife.

Underwater photo of a woman snorkeling and taking a photo of a school of fish swimming near an artificial reef

In just two afternoons of swimming here we were able to spot stingrays, sea turtles, parrotfish, angelfish, and sea hares, among others.

A shallow lagoon that's surrounded by boardwalks is just beyond the beach, allowing for even more opportunities to see wildlife. Manatees have even been known to come in during the colder months of the year.

You'll want to bring along your own snorkel gear, because there are no concessions or venders on Peanut Island to rent from.

The beach area is manned by lifeguards during the weekend and flags are present during hazardous conditions.

Top down drone shot looking at the artificial reefs along a sandy beach
A guard station with a sign overlooking the beach on Peanut IslandTop down looking at white seashells scattered across a golden colored sandy beach

Hang Out on the Beach

Even if snorkeling isn't your thing, the beach is a perfect way to enjoy Peanut Island for a day. Who doesn't love a day of swimming in sunny Florida?

Thanks to its location in the intracoastal waterway, the water here is calm and enjoyable. Soft, sandy beaches that are littered with mature palm trees will have you feeling like you've jetted off to a tropical destination. The water temps average a perfect 78-85F from April through December and only dip a little lower during the winter.

There's plenty of room to spread out and catch some sun for a few hours, but be warned: Peanut Island can be incredibly popular on weekends and holidays during the warmer months.

Our tip if it's a busy day and you're looking to avoid crowds: head north. Most people will congregate on the eastern side of the island, near the covered picnic pavilions and bathrooms. The sandy beach actually extends almost the entire way around the island and can easily be reached on the paved walking path.

You may need to walk a little further for a bathroom break and won't have access to the barbecue grills, but if you're like us it's worth it to have a little slice of beach perfection to yourselves.

A cluster of tall palm trees on a sandy beach

Get a Private Boat for the Day

Local vendors rent out a variety of boats, so you can have complete control over your day on the island.

Grab a private boat for the day and make your way out to the island on your own time, drop anchor just offshore and go snorkeling, or gather up a group of friends and make it a party. Alcohol isn't permitted on the island itself, except inside the campground. But you can (responsibly) enjoy some adult beverages from your own vessel.

Need a designated captain so you can enjoy a few drinks yourself, or don't have any experience operating a boat? You can setup a chartered tour to get out on the water for the day or for a sunset cruise.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard

Another way to get yourself out to the island and see more of it is to hop on a kayak or SUP and paddle there.

Single and double kayaks and paddleboards are all available to rent for a half day or more.

Leaving from Riviera Beach Marina, the paddle is just over a quarter mile to the west side of the island and under a mile to get to the boat dock area.

Nautical Ventures has a rental outpost at the marina and rents both paddleboards and kayaks by the half day or full day. This is who we used and we had a great experience.

Another nearby option is Get Wet Watersports, which offers jet skis, snorkel gear and more, in addition to kayaks and paddleboards. Online reviews are mixed and we personally had trouble getting in touch with them and receiving answers to our questions over the phone.

Side view of a woman kayaking parallel to a shoreline
A man pulling a kayak up onto the shore of a sandy beachFirst person perspective looking down at a man standing next to a kayak with snorkel fins and a paddle resting on it

Spend a Night Tent Camping

When was the last time you camped out under the stars and swaying palm trees on a tiny island? Sounds like something you'd see in a travel brochure for a far off destination, doesn't it?

If you ask us, a night of camping on Peanut Island is the best way to fully experience this place.

The primitive campground has 17 sites that you can reserve over the phone up to 90 days in advance. Each one includes a picnic table, grill, and a sandy tent pad. Campers also have access to the hot showers inside the nearest restroom, a covered picnic area, and a communal fire pit.

It may not be quite as adventurous as say, river camping on the wild side of Florida, but with quick, convenient access to the island, and the beautiful views around the beaches and campground, you just can't beat a night or two here.

The experience alone of a Florida sunrise along the beach is worth it.

A tent set up on a sandy pad with tall palm trees behind itA woman sitting in the door of a tent smiling with a cup of coffee

Take a Walk Around the Loop Trail

You can make the 1.3 mile walk around the entire island in about 20 or 30 minutes.

We actually did it twice when we stayed, once during the day, and once at night when the path was illuminated by lamps and we just had the surrounding city lights, chirping insects, and crashing waves as company.

It's a flat, paved path that takes you down the main beach area, past the snorkeling lagoon and boardwalks, to the former Coast Guard station at the southern end of the island. Here you can see some remaining structures, which are currently fenced off, and read about the historic Kennedy Bunker, a nuclear fallout shelter built in the 1960s for JFK.

The loop continues around to the west side of the island, past a small harbor, then the northern beach, before returning you to the campground and main dock area.

A woman in a wide brimmed hat walking down a paved walking trail among dense tropical vegetation

Try Out Some Saltwater Fishing

There are several opportunities to cast a net or a line around Peanut Island and catch some fresh seafood.

The large fishing pier on the northeastern edge of the island is open from sunrise to sunset and has a fish cleaning station.

As long as you're away from designated swimming areas you can also fish from the beach, or venture out in a boat.

Read more about whether you'll need a fishing license from Florida Fish & Wildlife.

Getting to Peanut Island

Getting to Peanut Island is as easy as parking at one of two marinas and taking the shuttle or water taxi over.

From the Riviera Beach Marina, you can park for free in the large public lot, and walk over to Peanut Island Shuttle. They depart every 30 minutes between 10 AM and 5 PM. The cost is $25 for adults and $12 for children. If you plan on camping, you'll need to call ahead at least 24 hours and make a reservation.

From Sailfish Marina, which is on Palm Beach Shores, you can take the water taxi for $20. They run three times a day, between 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM.

Your other options for getting over to the island are to rent or charter a private boat, or grab a kayak for the day and paddle across, which will probably take you about 45 minutes or so in either direction.

Want to visit Peanut Island? Pin it for later!

A tent in a campsite surrounded by palm trees with text overlay that says "Best Things to do on Peanut Island"

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