Florida on a Tankful: Hiking trail for snorkeling in Palm Beach County

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, May 05, 2017, 8:41 AM EDT

Spending time wandering under most overpasses isn't a safe bet. Unless, you're under a 20-year-old span in West Palm Beach.

"The spirit of adventure,” said Jena McNeal in the shadows of the Blue Heron Bridge, linking Riviera Beach to Singer Island.

Steps away in the Treasure Coast’s largest estuary, the Lake Worth Inlet, find those bobbing for the "booty."

"(It’s) the clearest water you've ever snorkeled in,” Jena boasted.

Don't forget to pack the snorkel, mask, fins and a little toothpaste. That’s right, a little Crest or Colgate can prevent fogging inside your mask.

"This is one of the top spots to come diving in the world now,” Jena said of the man-made reef just steps off the beach that’s hiding under the bridge. Jena is the artificial reef coordinator with Palm Beach County. She’s worked over the past few years to sink boats, shopping carts and reef structures now covered in life.

In her trademark pink flippers, Jena invites you to visit her second office underwater. The submerged “swimming trail” is like a hiking trail for snorkelers at Phil Foster Park.

On the bottom, find artwork, statues of sharks and even old shopping carts anchored to the bottom, perfect for attracting aquatic plants and animals.

"You can see corals, sponges, and then all of the marine life that is attracted to them,” Jena said. 

The underwater objects look like something only seen by submarine or in a Jacques Cousteau film.

Tropical fish that look like they swam in from the Bahamas are at home here, along with lobster, stingrays, and even cryptic seahorses. 

"This is the only place in Florida I have seen octopuses and I have been in this business a long time,” Jena shared.

The tropical fish are found in spots 10 feet deep to areas where you can walk along the bottom.

In order to see the sea life, visitors to Phil Foster Park need to do a little research to catch high tide.

"At high tide, that clear, beautiful, blue, gulf stream water, comes right in the inlet, and bathes this area with that water,” Jenna said.

The water here can go from clear to cloudy within just 10 minutes. Yet, the price to get in stays the same: free.

"No two snorkel trips here are going to be the same,” Jena said.

Know Before You Go: Phil Foster Park is free to visit, park and snorkel.  

Tides: For best visibility underwater, you’ll want to arrange your visit around high tide, when the clear water pours in through the inlet. 
Get tide information: https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/map/index.shtml?region=Florida

Address:  900 Blue Heron Blvd. E, Riviera Beach, FL, 33404

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