West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach History
A town founded by the railroad and Standard Oil tycoon, Henry Flagler, West Palm Beach is South Florida at its finest. Founded in the 1890’s, Flagler bought and developed the land while scouting land to extend his Florida East Coast railroad south. Flagler built two of his hotels in West Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana and the Palm Beach Inn (later known as the Breakers Hotel). Over the course of the next twenty years of development, West Palm Beach quickly became developed and became the tourist destination for travelers.
West Palm Beach is located along the Atlantic Ocean, and has smooth sand beaches and one of the nation’s most alluring waterways, the intracoastal. Also worth noting is the West Palm Beach Canal, which was dug in the early 1900’s to lower Lake Okeechobee and drain a part of the Everglades in order to farm the land. Today, the canal serves as part of the Central and Southern Florida flood control system. The canal starts at Lake Okeechobee and provides drainage for sugarcane in the Everglades Agricultural Area and as it enters the coastal urban area, the canal receives storm water runoff from cities before emptying into the Lake Worth Lagoon. The Lake Worth Lagoon runs parallel to the coast and is connected to the ocean by to man-made inlets, the Lake Worth Inlet and the South Lake Worth Inlet, with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway running the entire length of the lagoon.
West Palm Beach’s public water supply comes from Grassy Waters Preserve, which is part of the Everglades Ecosystem. The system feeds and sustains Lake Magnolia and Clear Lake. At times, this water supply is supplemented from Lake Okeechobee. The water from these services is processed at a Water Treatment Plant using conventional filtration and lime softening.
Points of Interest
John D. MacArthur State Park
Located in North Palm Beach and nestled on a barrier island, this state park is truly an oasis nestled away from the city. The park has almost two miles of picturesque pristine beaches that offer beachgoers ample opportunities to soak up the sunshine while snorkeling and swimming. On the opposite side of the park, is the Lake Worth Lagoon and Intracoastal Waterway, where you can kayak, canoe, or hike one of the many nature trails. During select summer nights, visitors can join in on a sea turtle walk, and watch a loggerhead sea turtle make her nest and lay her eggs! The park is also home to the Anastasia Limestone Rock Reef, a community that was formed more than 125,000 years ago. Many species of tropical fish and marine animals inhabit the reef, including parrotfish, barracuda, damselfish, and even Loggerhead Sea Turtles! The park’s nature center offers more information and exhibits on the park’s habitat, ecology, and natural resources.
Blue Heron Bridge
Named as the best scuba dive spot in North America by “Sport Diver,” the Blue Heron Bridge is extraordinary for snorkelers and scuba divers alike! The bridge is located in Riviera Beach, just outside of West Palm Beach, and is situated on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Lake Worth Inlet.
The diversity of life, easy access, shallow waters, and affordability, make the Blue Heron Bridge one of the most popular dives spots in all of Florida. The best time to snorkel or dive the bridge is thirty minutes before and thirty minutes after high tide and the average depth is less than 25 feet. The variety of life that can be spotted is endless, with everything from seahorses, starfish, nudibranches, octopuses, sea turtles, squid, eels, flying gurnards, frogfish, eagle rays, sharks, essentially everything your diver’s heart could possibly desire, and more.
Ocean Reef Park
This beach has a great reef extremely close to shore with amble snorkel opportunities, even for the beginner! Additionally, this is an ideal spot for beachgoers, with smooth sand and lifeguards.