Take it Outside: Sports & Recreation in Palm Beach County
The more than 150 golf courses in Palm Beach County consume quite a bit of real estate, but this is a big county geographically, and there’s plenty of area for numerous other outdoor activities besides teeing it up.
Fishing ranks a close second to golf in popularity among residents and visitors alike, and there’s an abundant amount of places to cast your line, regardless if your preference is 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 click a keepsake photo if you’re quick enough with the camera. If you don’t own a boat, there are a slew of saltwater fishing charters/guides throughout the county. Check out the website surfinggator.com for an extensive list. The Palm Beach Post 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 or snook, or even 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 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.
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 beckoning call 365 days a year, thanks to the county’s year-round tropical weather. Here’s a sampling:
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” that is built upon a former landfill that has been converted into a winding-climbing trail that is 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.
The 726-acre family-oriented John Prince Park in Lake Worth has a 48-acre campground situated next to Lake Osborne that includes a ramp to launch watercraft. Peanut Island is a permit/fee-only campground that is surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway near the Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet and is ideal for fishing and boating campers and snorkeling. The South Bay RV Campground in the western part of the county is a spacious, fully-equipped site that includes boat ramp access to Lake Okeechobee.
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 an inexpensive form of outdoor exercise and fun. For more information, check out the website, canoeoutfittersofflorida.com.
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’s some good spots for surfers, most notably Reef Road which is tucked away in the north end of the county’s riches real estate, as well as, off the Jupiter Inlet , and Juno Beach Pier. Check out www.surfline.com 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 pbcgov.com/parks for locations). One of the nicest full-service public tennis facilities is the Delray Beach Tennis Center near the 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.
Okeeheelee Park just west of West Palm Beach has a nationally recognized competitive water ski venue that offers five courses for traditional, barefoot, wakeboard and kneeboard skiing, including one course that is lighted for night skiing. Only USA Water Ski-approved boats are permitted. There’s also the Intracoastal Waterway that stretches the entire north-south length of the county, as well as numerous canals throughout the county. Just be sure to obey the no-wake zones.
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