Welcome underwater adventurers, to the stunning world of scuba diving in Palm Beach County, Florida! Nestled along the southeastern coast of the Sunshine State, Palm Beach County isn’t just a tropical paradise for sun-seekers; it’s also a hidden gem for scuba divers seeking unparalleled underwater experiences. Let’s plunge into the depths of this aquatic wonderland, where beautiful waters, vibrant marine life, and a treasure trove of dive sites await. So, strap on your fins and dive in with us as we explore the enchanting world beneath the waves.
Palm Beach County boasts a unique position along the Gulf Stream, a warm oceanic current that brings an abundance of marine life right to its shores. This underwater highway acts like a bustling express lane for a myriad of sea creatures, making it a dream destination for divers of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or dipping your toes into the world of scuba for the first time, Palm Beach County offers something for everyone beneath its azure surface. From vibrant coral reefs teeming with tropical fish to awe-inspiring shipwrecks shrouded in history, this underwater realm is a canvas of adventure waiting to be explored. In the sections to follow, we’ll dive deeper into the remarkable dive sites, marine encounters, and practical know-how for your Palm Beach County scuba diving journey. So, let’s dive in together and discover why this slice of Florida’s coastline is a scuba diver’s paradise.
Day 1 Blue Heron Bridge
Your scuba diving adventure in Palm Beach County begins with a visit to the iconic Blue Heron Bridge. Known affectionately as “The Bridge” by local divers, this site is a mesmerizing introduction to the region’s underwater wonders. Located in Phil Foster Park, it’s not your typical dive site; in fact, it’s a shore dive just beneath a picturesque bridge. As you gear up for your first descent, you might wonder what makes this place so special. Well, prepare to be amazed!
Beneath the surface of The Bridge lies a world of colorful marine life, stunning coral formations, and unique critters that have made it their home. Its sheltered location means that even novice divers can explore its depths with ease. The site is renowned for its macro photography opportunities, making it a favorite among underwater photographers. Expect to encounter seahorses, frogfish, and countless other tiny creatures that often elude the naked eye. It’s like stepping into a hidden realm filled with marine marvels. So, as you submerge into the clear waters of The Bridge, keep your camera ready, and let the underwater enchantment begin.
Day 2 Dive Boat – Mid-shore
On your second day of scuba diving in Palm Beach County, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the enchanting mid-shore dive sites along the famous Breakers Reef. Your adventure begins at the Rivera Beach Marina, where dive boats depart to take you to these underwater wonders.
Breakers Reef is renowned among divers for its vibrant marine life and stunning coral formations. The mid-shore dive sites offer the perfect blend of accessibility and rich marine biodiversity. As you descend beneath the surface, you’ll find yourself immersed in a kaleidoscope of colors. The clear blue waters provide excellent visibility, making this area ideal for divers of all skill levels.
One of the highlights of diving at Breakers Reef is encountering its diverse marine residents. From playful sea turtles to majestic spotted eagle rays gliding gracefully by, every dive promises a chance to witness the beauty of Palm Beach County’s underwater world. The reef’s intricate coral formations are home to a myriad of tropical fish species, creating a vibrant and bustling ecosystem just waiting to be explored.
So, as you step onto the dive boat at Rivera Beach Marina, get ready for a day filled with incredible underwater encounters. Breakers Reef beckons with its underwater treasures, and you’re about to dive right in!
Day 3 Dive Boat – Juno Ledge
On the third day of your scuba diving adventure in Palm Beach County, prepare to be captivated by the incredible dive sites around Juno Ledge. Boats for Juno Ledge depart from the picturesque Jupiter Inlet, offering access to some of the country’s most cherished underwater spots.
Juno Ledge boasts a variety of dive sites, each with its own unique charm. One notable site is the Lighthouse/Loggerhead Reef, named after the iconic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. This area is celebrated for its vibrant coral formations and an abundance of marine life. As you descend beneath the waves, you’ll encounter schools of colorful fish, curious sea turtles, and possibly even a friendly nurse shark or two.
Another gem along Juno Ledge is Captain Kurl’s Reef. This site is known for its intricate coral gardens and intriguing underwater topography. Diving here feels like exploring a hidden underwater paradise. Keep your eyes peeled for camouflaged creatures like octopuses and seahorses, which often make appearances amid the corals.
The boats departing from Jupiter Inlet provide easy access to these remarkable dive sites, making it a convenient choice for divers looking to explore Juno Ledge’s underwater wonders. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or still relatively new to the sport, the dive sites at Juno Ledge offer an unforgettable underwater experience that will leave you in awe of Palm Beach County’s rich marine biodiversity.
So, as you board the dive boat at Jupiter Inlet, get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Juno Ledge’s underwater realm. It’s a day of exploration you won’t want to miss!
Day 3 Night Dive (Optional)
Since you’ve made the all the way down to South Florida, why not squeeze in all the diving you can while you are here? You can’t see everything we have to offer diving while the sun is up. To get the full experience, you’ve got to get your fins wet at night. So let’s look at your options for a night dive.
If you already dive night dives then you know the beauty of the world beneath the waves at night. If you’ve never done a night dive, We’ve got a treat for you. Here in Palm Beach County, we have two very different options for night dives.
Night Dive Option 1: Night Dive at the Blue Heron Bridge
The Blue Heron Bridge is a different dive site at night. Even if you dove it on Day 1, a night dive will show you a whole new side of this world-renowned dive site. You’ll see things you won’t see during the day, it’s an absolutely beautiful site. There are a couple of things you need to know though.
- There are only a few nights a month you can dive the bridge
We dive the Blue Heron Bridge with the tides. Specifically, we like to be in the water about 60 minutes before high tide. This means that if you are diving without a guide, you’ll need to plan the dive yourself. Check out the “Blue Heron Bridge Tide Schedule” for a current list of tides. In the right-hand column, there will be a small icon of the moon on days when the late high tide is within the window.
- You need a pass
The park closes at dusk. However, on nights when high tide is after sunset, the park rangers make an exception for divers. However, for them to allow you to stay in the park, you need a pass. You can get a pass from most of the local dive centers but you do have to get one or the Park Rangers will ticket you. Most local dive centers will gladly give you one if you stop by and ask. Some local dive centers will only give out passes to divers who hire a guide from them. This is okay and it leads me to my next point.
- Hire a guide
If you are not a regular diver at the Blue Heron Bridge, hire a guide for your night dive. This is especially important if this is your first night dive at the bridge. A guide not only knows where to find the cool stuff, but they also know how to keep you safe during the dive. Hiring a dive guide for a night dive at the Blue Heron Bridge is an investment in making sure it’s a great dive.
Night Dive Option 2: Blackwater Dive
Ready for something different? Try a Blackwater Dive. Several boats in the area that operate out of the Rivera Beach Marina offer this unique experience.
Blackwater diving is an adventure that usually takes divers far offshore. Down here in South Florida, the boats usually take you 45 minutes to an hour off-shore and into the Gulfstream. While this is not out of sight of land, it is far enough so that the lights from land are not visible underwater. However long it takes your boat to get into position, the wait is well worth it. Blackwater diving offers a completely different perspective of the world beneath the waves.
For a complete description of blackwater diving and what to expect – along with some fantastic pictures, check out “What is blackwater diving?” For now, just know it’s a scuba diving experience like you’ve never had before,
Since you control how deep you go on a blackwater dive, the only required certification is an Open Water certification. However, I would strongly suggest that you get your Nitrox certification before you go. You will stay down longer.
Not all dive boats in the area offer blackwater dives and the ones that do usually only offer them once a week or so. Therefore if you are interested in making a blackwater dive, contact your favorite dive boat operator and ask them.
Day 4 No Fly Day
Every scuba diving adventure deserves a day of rest and exploration above the waves. In Palm Beach County, a no-fly day can be just as captivating as your underwater escapades. So, let’s plan the perfect day on dry land, filled with culture, delicious cuisine, and a touch of wildlife.
Morning: A Glimpse into History at Whitehall
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
One Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, FL 33480
Begin your no-fly day with a visit to Whitehall, a historic mansion and museum located in Palm Beach. Whitehall, once the grand residence of Henry Flagler, a prominent figure in Florida’s development, is a masterpiece of Gilded Age architecture. As you stroll through its opulent halls, you’ll be transported to a bygone era of luxury and sophistication.
Explore the meticulously manicured gardens surrounding the mansion, offering a tranquil retreat amid lush greenery and serene fountains. Take your time to appreciate the exquisite art collections and the fascinating history of this iconic estate. Whitehall provides a glimpse into the opulence that defined Palm Beach’s past.
Lunch: Local Flavor at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon
E.R. Bradley’s Saloon
104 S Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
After your morning excursion, head to E.R. Bradley’s Saloon, a beloved local eatery located along the waterfront in West Palm Beach. Here, you can savor delicious seafood, fresh salads, and a variety of mouthwatering dishes. Enjoy your meal while taking in breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway. E.R. Bradley’s is not only known for its delectable cuisine but also its relaxed, coastal ambiance.
Afternoon Option 1: Art and Culture at The Norton Museum
Norton Museum of Art
1450 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
If you’re an art enthusiast, spend your afternoon at The Norton Museum of Art. Located in West Palm Beach, this renowned institution showcases an impressive collection of art, including European, American, Chinese, and contemporary works. Explore the thought-provoking exhibitions and appreciate the cultural richness of the museum’s offerings. The Norton Museum is a hub of creativity and inspiration, perfect for those seeking to immerse themselves in the world of art.
Afternoon Option 2: A Wild Safari at Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari
2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470
Alternatively, if you prefer a more adventurous afternoon, set off for Lion Country Safari, just a short drive from Palm Beach. This unique wildlife park allows you to observe exotic animals in a natural habitat from the comfort of your vehicle. Drive through the safari and witness giraffes, zebras, lions, and many other fascinating creatures up close. It’s an immersive wildlife experience that will leave you with incredible memories of your visit.
Whether you choose to explore art and culture at The Norton Museum or embark on a wild safari at Lion Country Safari, your no-fly day in Palm Beach County promises to be a delightful adventure. So, take a break from diving, savor the local flavors, and indulge in the beauty and culture of this captivating region.
No Fly Day: Alternative Sugar Express
If you are visiting the area between October and January, a great option for your no-dive day is the Sugar Express. Sugar Express features historic steam locomotive No. 148, vintage passenger cars from the 20th Century, and diesel locomotives from the neighboring freight and sugarcane farming railroad. The Sugar Express operates on a seasonal basis, so once you have your schedule set, check to see if this is an option.
Depending on which trip you take, this is between a 2 and 6-hour trip. All trains leave out of Clewiston, Florida, which is about an hour and a half drive from West Palm Beach.
Dive Boat Operators
There are a lot of great dive boat operators operating in Palm Beach County, FL. Almost all of the dive boats in Palm Beach County are day boats. In scuba diving, a day boat is your ride to the underwater world. It’s a boat designed for short trips, taking divers from the shore to diving spots and back within the same day. These boats all have the necessary equipment for divers and sometimes even snacks. Most dive operators offer gear rental if you don’t have your gear or don’t want to travel with it.
Day boats are convenient for those who prefer shorter diving adventures without the need to stay overnight. They offer a straightforward way to enjoy scuba diving without the hassle of longer trips.
351 South US 1, #103 Jupiter, FL 33477
Jupiter Dive Center
1001 FL A1AAlt Suite 113, Jupiter, FL 33477
1111 Love Street, Jupiter, FL 33477
Rivera Beach Inlet
Calypso Dive Charters
200 E 13th St, Riviera Beach, FL 33404
Kyalami Scuba Club
607 A Northlake Blvd. North Palm Beach, FL. 33408
Narcosis Dive Company
200 E 13th Street · Riviera Beach, Florida 33404
2513 Beach Ct,, Riviera Beach, FL 33404
Walkers Dive Charters
200 East 13th St. Slip P25, Riviera Beach, FL. 33404
Where to stay
There are a lot of great places to stay in Palm Beach County, FL. Where you stay will most likely be determined by your budget and where you want to be in the county. Accommodations range from the breakers on Palm Beach to hotels on Singer Island, to chain hotels on US1. We’ve listed two of our favorite places to stay to get you started in finding the perfect place to stay during your scuba diving adventure. If neither of these fits your requirements, look around, you will be surprised by what you can find!
Palm Beach Marriot Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa
3800 North Ocean Drive, Singer Island, Riviera Beach, Florida, USA, 33404
Best Western Intracoastal Inn
810 S US Highway 1, Jupiter, Florida 33477
Where To Eat
Palm Beach County has every chain restaurant you can think of. A quick search of the area on your favorite search engine will turn up all of your favorites. If however, you want to eat off the beaten path, eat where the locals eat, try one of these spots.
The Catch Seafood & Sushi
766 Northlake Blvd, North Palm Beach, FL 33403
Dixie Grill & Bar
5101 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach FL
103 US-1 Suite a1, Jupiter, FL 33477
775 N Highway A1A Alt, Jupiter, FL 33477-5009
104 S Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
4700 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, FL 33405-2929
71 E. Indiantown Road, Suite 805 Jupiter, FL 33477
Palm Beach County, Florida is a scuba diver’s paradise, right here in the United States. We have beautiful dive sites from 10 feet down to 130 feet and below. We have wrecks and reefs and an abundance of life on both. If you want help, we have guides that will dive with you, making sure you get the best possible experience. It all starts with a plan, this is your chance, plan your scuba adventure down in Palm Beach County today!