Nov 8-18: Palm Beach at the Riviera Beach City Marina
Our first plan is to visit this mysterious Peanut Island! Once known as Inlet Island, it was initially a place to dump dredging when the inlet for the Port of Palm Beach was made. The island was later named Peanut Island after a peanut-oil shipping operation which later failed.
The island became famous because a bomb shelter for President John F. Kennedy was secretly constructed here after his 1960 election. The shelter is now a hotel and museum. The island became a favorite for the locals in 2005 though when a $13 million renovation was completed on the island. It is now a stunning park with areas for swimming, camping, events, walking trails and fishing.
When we visited the island was bustling with activity. This time of year is considered to be their winter so it was amazing to see how many people were out mid-week. Wildlife was everywhere. A variety of different birds, iguana, fish, stingrays and other wildlife were also out enjoying the day.
As we walked the pathways we were so impressed with how well it was planned. Camping spaces were hidden between palm trees, equipped with BBQs and soft sand beds surrounded with wood for easy tent mounting. Larger thatched pergolas sheltered rows of picnic tables, ideal for large school groups or even weddings, as well as benches, outlooks and walkways all carefully planned to provide a relaxed meander around the island. A nice introduction to the area.
As we rounded the south side of the marina we began to see the wear and tear from hurricanes. Sections of retaining wall were missing and one of the ferry terminals and its docks were still destroyed and unusable. Alongside were two boats that we saw as we arrived in the harbour, both badly battered on shore.
This morning we had arrived with a picnic lunch and planned to suntan for a while before moving our boat to the marina. It was nice to finally feel the sand between our toes and take our first swim in saltwater this trip. The beach offered a perfect ridge to prop up our heads as we read, watching shells and coconuts tumble in the soft waves.
Later we arrived at the marina to our slip and were pleasantly surprised by how well the marina was maintained. The staff quickly made sure we had what we needed and, despite heavy winds, we were shortly into our slip.
The marina was set up as a destination unto its own with all the services necessary for mega yachts to small watercraft; event centre for weddings and a restaurant; speedboat, diving and fishing tours; paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes; and a beach and water park for families passing by.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for us, there are no other touristy areas nearby. We would normally want to do a bit of touring but for the next week we would be working hard to finish final prep before we cross to the Bahamas. Final food purchases, oil changes, clothing purchases, dive equipment, marine supplies, etc.still needed to be coordinated and completed.
The days following became regular treks to various stores. The area is known to be a rough neighborhood but since we are used to living in Toronto it doesn't really bother us. As usual we have greeted people by the road with a wave and smile as we made trip after trip with our folding red wagon.
Our longest walk was an hour to a Walmart for collapsible water jugs, sewing supplies and tonic water which is my favorite pop. We Ubered back and have taken Uber for anything further than that, like our trip to a mall. (I have to say, it is bizarre to see Christmas decorations up in stores while we are still in shorts.)
The winds have not let up since we arrived, delaying us longer than we hoped but it has worked out. We needed the additional days for prep and for some breaks. (Sunday was a lovely devotional, rest, reflection and reading day!)
The marina has been the perfect place to be as we work. Their Rafiki Tiki restaurant has become our favorite spot to eat when we are too exhausted to think.
Tomorrow the weather will finally clear long enough for us to cross so we have been completing final projects today in prep. As we prepare for bed the event centre is hosting a community movie night complete with free popcorn and food trucks amazing! What a lovely way to fall asleep and dream about arriving in the Bahamas . . . tomorrow!