Fishing ranks a close second to golf in popularity among residents and visitors alike, and there’s an abundant number of places to cast your line, regardless of whether you prefer saltwater or freshwater fishing.
Fishing the Atlantic Ocean off Palm Beach County’s shores provides a wide selection of opportunities to snag a prize saltwater catch. Anglers regularly reel in bluefish, blackfin tuna, cobia, dolphin, kingfish, and a variety of snapper. There’s also wahoo and sailfish that roam these waters, the latter of which provides an exhilarating experience and a chance to snap a keepsake photo. If you don’t own a boat, there are a slew of saltwater fishing charters/guides throughout the county. Visit Surfing Gator’s website for an extensive list. The Palm Beach Post’s sports section also regularly publishes the local fishing report, which is helpful in determining what is biting when and where.
If you prefer to stay closer to shore, you might snag a Spanish mackerel in the surf. Tossing your line from bridges or an inlet jetty can possibly bag you a jack, a snook, or a pompano if you’re lucky.
If freshwater fishing is more your thing, you owe it to yourself to spend a day on Lake Okeechobee, whose southeastern shoreline forms part of the western edge of Palm Beach County and is only about an hour’s drive from West Palm Beach. “The Big O,” as locals call it, is the best largemouth bass fishing lake in the state. It’s the second-largest freshwater lake—next to Lake Michigan—contained entirely within the contiguous 48 states, so there are plenty of spots to anchor or just drift, or you could hire one of the local guides to lead you to the hot spots.
If fishing doesn’t tickle your outdoor fancy, no problem—there are also several recreational parks that offer an array of other outdoor activities, from biking paths to water skiing, all of which are at your beck and call 365 days a year, thanks to the county’s year-round tropical weather.
Fifteen of the 83 county parks have paved bicycle paths that provide a safe venue for cycling enthusiasts. Three of them offer mountain bike trails for those who are looking for a more challenging or exuberant ride. Dyer Park in West Palm Beach has a 4.7-mile single-track perimeter trail and a 2.4-mile trail (called the “Hill”) built upon a former landfill that has been converted into a winding-climbing trail—the only location in the South Florida region with appreciable climbs and descents. There are also single-track trails at Okeeheelee Park (3.2 miles) just west of West Palm Beach and West Delray Regional Park (2.5 miles) in Delray Beach.
Canoeing and Kayaking
A wonderfully scenic paddling experience is the 7.6-mile stretch of the Loxahatchee River from Riverbend Park in Jupiter downstream to Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Whether you’re looking for a one- or two-hour kid-friendly trip or prefer to embark on an all-day adventure, the Loxahatchee offers a variety of options. And even if you rent a canoe or kayak, it’s a fun and inexpensive form of outdoor exercise. For more information, visit Jupiter Outdoor Center’s website.
The Atlantic Ocean forms the entire eastern boundary of Palm Beach County, but it’s not always conducive for great surfing, especially during the summer months, unless there’s a tropical storm or hurricane brewing offshore. However, what it lacks in wave consistency, it makes up for in quality. When the waves are good, such as when winter low-pressure systems deliver fairly consistent groundswell toward the beaches, there are some great spots for surfers—most notably Reef Road, which is tucked away in the north end of the county’s richest real estate. Other sweet spots are just off the Jupiter Inlet and Juno Beach Pier. Check out Surf Line’s website for the latest surf reports and live video web cams.
Most of the numerous private country clubs have tennis courts, as do 12 of the county parks (go to the Palm Beach County website for locations). One of the nicest full-service public tennis facilities is the Delray Beach Tennis Center near bustling downtown Atlantic Avenue in the heart of the city. It has 14 clay courts, six hard-surface courts, and an 8,200-seat stadium and offers a variety of adult and junior programs, clinics, and camps. The center hosts the ATP World Tour’s Delray Beach Open tournament in February each year. There’s also the Delray Swim & Tennis Club that has 24 clay courts.
Navigating Palm Beach County by water is easy, thanks to the Atlantic Ocean’s 45 miles of shoreline, as well as boat access from four inlets and the Gulf Stream (only three miles offshore). The Intracoastal Waterway lies a short distance inland, with numerous marinas scattered along its route, including places where you can pull up to one of several restaurants that provide docking space for boaters looking for a bite to eat or a refreshing beverage.
For freshwater options, Lake Okeechobee forms part of the county’s western border and encompasses 488,000 acres. A handful of smaller inland lakes also provide boating opportunities, the largest being 540-acre Lake Mangonia. Some really great anchoring spots, according to Florida Marine Guide, are Peanut Island in Palm Beach County, across from Lake Worth Inlet, in front of Florida International University in Miami and across from Baker’s Haulover Inlet, and the anchorage in Boca Chica Harbor.
If you need a place to store your boat, the Palm Beach Yacht Club is a world-class marina in West Palm Beach, just a short distance from the Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet. It’s open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis and can accommodate yachts up to 150 feet, as well as sport fishing boats and sailing vessels. If you don’t own your own vessel, the Palm Beach Boat Club offers a variety of membership plans and has a fleet of boats ranging from luxury motor yachts to center-console fishing boats and cabin cruisers.
For information on Boating Safety Education Requirements, registering your boat in Florida, and equipment requirements, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 850-488-4676.