What do JFK, peanut oil, and West Palm Beach have in common?

At any given point in time there’s a good chance you’ll find a member (or three) of the Adventure Club (AC) in some far off corner of the world. But when the stars in our busy schedules align and we’re all together at home for a weekend, we rarely pass up the chance to explore our own South Florida playground. After all, we don’t discriminate… especially when adventures are concerned.

One of the many joys of living in Florida is that there’s always an island nearby in need of exploring (actually over 4,500 of them, if you’re fact checking). A few weeks ago, our impromptu stroke of adventure appetite landed us on Peanut Island, in the intracoastal waterway, off the Lake Worth Inlet. 

After a Christmas carol-filled 90-minutes ride north on interstate 95 from downtown Miami, the four of us were standing on the pier of Sailfish Marina. Champagne, check. Publix sub-filled coolers, check. Snorkel gear, check. GoPros and Santa hats, duh, check check. After all, a quick glance at our social media will reveal, AC rarely turns down a good selfie-stick op earning extra points for donning an element of coordinated attire. 

Now, for the recap:

Something hilarious

  • The boat ride to the island. It’s quite literally 45-seconds long, and we felt duped considering the price tag on the roundtrip ferry ticket was a whopping $12. Hell, if we didn’t have so much gear we would have probably just opted to swim there.
  • While there are picnic tables (and grills!) in the picnic area, bathrooms (and showers!) in the bathroom area, there are no hammocks in the island’s Hammock area. We have since learned that a “Hammock” is actually just a stand of trees, and our vigorous quest for siesta slings that day turned into a walk around the island’s entire perimeter. The upsides to this haphazard stroll were that we got our 10,000 steps for the day and, we happened to stumble upon a piece of Peanut Island’s intriguing history involving former President John F. Kennedy and a bomb shelter (more on that below).

Something helpful

  • There is *free* valet parking at Sailfish Marina, which sort of makes up for the silly price of the ferry ticket. 
  • You can buy your ferry tickets directly at Sailfish Marina, but make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before the ferry is set to depart or you’ll be begging the Ferry Captain in person for permission to board the taxi. These West Palm Beach folk are just a lovely and welcoming bunch but, they have no patience for “Miami time”. 
  • The Peanut Island official website says there is no food or drink on the island. Not. True. There’s a small shop and museum located right outside of the island’s friendly neighborhood blast shelter (yup, keep reading…) that sells snacks, drinks, and apparel. They even take credit cards.
  • The camping areas were closed. Perhaps they’ve since reopened, but we’d recommend calling to confirm before you pack up your tents.
  • The snorkeling area is right off the beach, and on a good day you can even encounter Moray Eels hanging out on the manmade reef. 

Something historical

  • Peanut Island (originally named Inlet Island) emerged as a result of massive dredging in the Lake Worth Inlet in 1918. In the 1940s, there were plans to use the island as a peanut oil-shipping operation, but those plans eventually failed and in the 1960s, shortly after the election of President John F. Kennedy, the US Navy decided it a strategic location to build a 1,500 square-foot nuclear fallout shelter for the former president. (After all, the Kennedy Estate in Palm Beach, where JFK was known for spending winters, was a mere five minute helicopter ride away.) After JFK’s assassination, the shelter was abandoned for a few decades and in 2005 underwent a $13 million renovation and became what we know today as Peanut Island Park, run by the Palm Beach Maritime Museum.

We definitely recommend this little getaway if you don’t want to go NUTS (see what we did there?) on travel time or cash, if want to keep it local (for our readers in South Florida) or if you’re passing through the area (for our readers elsewhere).  If you’re in the area, we also recommend checking out West Palm Beach.  They’ve got a street art scene that is sure not to be missed – photos below.  

Have you been to Peanut Island? Thoughts? Are there local adventure spots in your backyard that you’ve loved? Hit us up! We’d love to hear from you.

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” —John F. Kennedy

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