John D. MacArthur State Park in Florida
John D. MacArthur State Park north of Singer Island, Florida is little-known. Located just north of Palm Beach and south of Jupiter Beach in Southeast Florida, it's quiet most of the year.
This Florida state park has a beautiful beach and a tropical dune trail. It's nice to know that urban sprawl hasn't touched some places.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park also has some, ahem, interesting history, when it was called Air Force Beach, way back in World War 2. Apparently there were some wild beach parties back then!
Located on a Barrier Island
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is located on a barrier island, off the SE Florida coast. A barrier island is generally long and narrow, that separates mainland Florida from the sea -- in this case the Atlantic Ocean.
Many of Florida's barrier islands are so beautiful that the condos and hotels have taken over. How nice to know that there are some islands that are still "au naturale"!
Be on the Lookout For...
Signs of sea turtles. You're not likely to see the turtles themselves (the park isn't open during prime turtle-nesting hours) but you might see evidence that they have been around. However, if you'd really like to see the turtles, there are ranger-led walks in May and June. Make a reservation through the office in advance -- the tours are popular.
You might see some roseate spoonbills at the park. Say what? Roseate spoonbills are some really cool birds in my opinion. They have a rose tint to their feathers and a little, well, spoon-shape at the end of their bills. I once saw a photo of dozens of the spoonbills sitting in a tree -- totally amazing!
Birding tours are occasionally available, so if it's a passion of yours, check with the park office.
What is There to Do at John D. MacArthur State Park?
So what else is there to do at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, aside from animal/bird watching? How about:
Check out the Visitors Center, open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You can get an overview of the park and see a short (15 minute) video.
Paddle in a Kayak
There are plenty of canoeing and kayaking available at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. You can bring your own or else rent a kayak by the hour, half-day or full day (no canoe rentals). Rental hours are from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
If you'd like to paddle but would like a little guidance on where, try the daily ranger-led kayak tour. Fees are $20 for a single, $35 for a double kayak. This is a two-hour trip covering various ecosystems. Daily tours take place at high tide and are first-come, first served (no reservations). Please call (561) 624-6952 for more details on times.
There are several places to fish at John D. MacArthur State Park. First of all, let's cover the issue of a fishing license -- if you are not a Florida resident or if you are fishing from a boat (even if you are a Florida resident) you will need a saltwater fishing license. Don't take the chance of not having one when it's required -- you can have your catch taken away and also be fined.
With that said, the fishing is fine. Naturally bring your own equipment. In John D. MacArthur State Park, you can fish:
Picnics and Pavilions at MacArthur Beach State Park
There are plenty of areas for picnicking in this beach state park. Grills are available, as are some tables. Bathrooms and water are available, as are a few vending machines. Don't count on the vending machines, though -- better to bring your own goodies and drinks.
There are two pavilions available at John D. MacArthur State Park, and each can hold around 72 people. They aren't exactly inexpensive at $100 a piece, but if you have a big group they may be just the ticket. Contact the park office at (561) 624-6950 for reservations.
Weather and Insects
As always when in natural Florida, be aware of the strong sun, plentiful insects and possible rainshowers. Make sure to bring sunblock, sunglasses and at least have some insect repellent available. You may not need the repellant, but better to have it and not need it than to have your day ruined.
If you just plan to visit the beach at John D. MacArthur State Park, the mosquito repellant won't be necessary.
You'd be wise to bring a hat of some sort, if you plan to visit the beach -- for one, it helps keep the sun off your face. Two, it helps to keep your scalp from getting sunburned.
Time and Place
John D. MacArthur State Park is open year-round from 8 AM to sunset. The entrance and other fees are as follows:
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is located on A1A in North Palm Beach, Florida, a little over 2.75 miles south of the US 1 and PGA Boulevard intersection.
To check on any programs that might be available (special activities or tours) when you plan to visit, call the park for an update -- the phone number is (561) 624-6950.
Location in Florida
John D. MacArthur State Park is located in Southeast Florida. The closest city is North Palm Beach, although Singer Island is just a tiny bit south. The closest airport is Palm Beach International.
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