Palm Beach: An Oasis With Surprises...
My first time visiting this area was for a mission trip in West Palm Beach when I was a preteen. Along with my memories of the incredible children we were able to work with, I also remember the blue waters and the long stretches of beautiful beaches. So when I came across a very interesting place called Peanut Island, located near West Palm Beach, I was very excited to get back! So we booked our stay... and then Covid19 happened.
The first thing to note is that Peanut Island was our reason for visiting the Palm Beach area. Peanut Island is a county park with a very unique history and several sandy campsites that you can camp on! The Adventurous Alfords love to camp so we were immediately drawn to this location. Booking our site was very easy and super affordable. Keep in mind, this is more of a tropical primitive tent camping experience. You can visit http://discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Pages/Camping-PeanutIsland.aspx for a full list of rules, regulations, the ferry shuttle information that you will need for transport, and a contact number to make your reservation through, however, due to the coronavirus, Peanut Island remains closed at this time. Which brings us to the next chapter of our Palm Beach adventure: Marriott's Ocean Pointe
Where To Stay: We went back and forth with what to do since our point of interest was closed. We finally decided that we still wanted to visit the Palm Beach area regardless of the park closure. After much research, we opted for Ocean Pointe by Marriott as our place to stay. This place became the reason that we will be going back next summer! This fantastic vacation rental establishment has it all! All the needs for a fantastic vacation at your fingertips and that does not even include the other fun places we found outside the resort that you can visit as well! With multiple pools, a splash pad, an outdoor walk up grill and bar, putt putt and private beach access to guests, there really is no reason to leave. Due to Covid19 the resort, unfortunately, had many of these amenities unavailable. During these unprecedented times, if you still choose to travel, you must be attentive about calling ahead of your vacation to double check what is open and what is not. The staff, while we were there, were outstanding and were taking all precautions very seriously. As far as the amenities that were not operating, such as the grill and bar; I have some tips for you on that if you still choose to visit before Ocean Pointe is fully operational again...
Food And Drinks? We brought our own cocktails and beverages and kept them in our room refrigerator. We would make our drinks in our room and take them to the pool. We were also able to order DoorDash to deliver food to the resort. This was great because we were able to take nachos and room-made margaritas to the pool! One family we spoke with brought their own putters from their home, as well as golfballs, that they used on the putt putt course. The beach was beautiful and not crowded at all. After dinner one night, we walked down the beach to another hotel, The Islander, whose bar was open, and ordered drinks for us and Shirley Temples for the kiddos. This was a a fun thing to do after dinner and who doesn't like a relaxing beach stroll at sunset? Just be mindful of all of the turtle nests on your walk.
Snorkel, Snorkel, Snorkel: Remember your snorkel gear because the water is clear but be warned that the water can be a little rough during certain tides and times of day. Always swim with caution. And of course when Peanut Island is open, it is so close by, (see map photo above) that you for sure must plan on taking the ferry over to snorkel all day as a change of scenery and for a unique experience like no other. Be sure to explore the island and check out the bunker that was placed there for JFK during his visits. For more on Ocean Pointe you can click the link below for rates and available dates.
Walking distance to good eats: Just a 5 minute walk from Ocean Pointe is a shopping strip, called Ocean Walk, that includes several restaurants, a 7 eleven, and a small surf shop. One of these restaurants was called "Mulligans". The food was fantastic. They also have a small indoor "soft play" for kids. Request a table closest to that for some entertainment for the kiddos. This would also be a great door dash option if you are not comfortable dining in just yet. (FYI: there were $5 off coupons at the hostess station for door dash, so when driving in to start your vacay, be sure to swing in there first to grab one.) This "shopping" location is also home to "Two Drunkin' Goats" that has a reputation for outstanding breakfast options. Disappointingly, they did not open until 11am during our visit (weekday hours) so we were not able to try it out. But be sure to visit on the weekend where their hours begin at 8am.
A slightly secret snorkel site... Due to rough waters one day during our visit, tours and beaches were not open for snorkeling. Leave it to bad luck that our visit was accompanied by a tropical storm. But with no lightning or thunder in sight, we were still anxious to get in the water somewhere. Enter Phil Foster Park. Phil Foster Park is a hidden gem that I WISH we could have had more time to explore. Located under the Blue Heron Bridge is a small beach that leads into an inlet that has loads to explore. Life guards are usually on duty and there is a playground there as well. Our family of four was literally the only ones on the beach. The water was still a little murky due to the weather, but even though there was not much to see, the floating about and shell exploring was enough to make sure that this place had its own mention. Despite the weather, my husband was still able to get a really cool live go pro shot of a crab and a flounder underwater. Visit this link to read more on their boat slip policies and unique snorkel experiences.
"The Blue Heron Bridge area is internationally recognized by scientists, scuba divers, underwater photographers, and snorkelers for its abundance of unique marine life. Squid, octopus, spotted rays, and starfish are regularly seen. A snorkel trail made of limestone boulders and prefabricated reef modules spans a two-acre area in 6 to 10 feet of water. 600 tons of rock were used to build this artificial reef!" -PBC parks & recreation
Going to go grab some food? During a pandemic? Not so fast... There are hundreds of places to eat in Palm Beach, trust me, but if you are looking for a unique experience, the Grandview Public Market is where you need to go! Garrett and I were looking for and calling every other business we could find on the internet to serve us breakfast but we were coming up short at every turn due to Covid19. We were repeatedly met with "closed until further notice" or "take out limited menu only" or "Hotel restaurants only open to hotel guests at this time". So we decided to get in the car and drive around. And that is how we found the Grandview Market. When we parked our car and observed the outside, we knew right away that this was a trendy, yet fun atmosphere where all walks could come in, find something to eat for every single member of your party and sit down like a family. Grandview Public Market is an indoor market of several different food stations. But it gets even better: there is an indoor/outdoor bar, along with the outdoor area being a covered "pavilion" style, first come, first serve seating area. This is where you can take your food choices or drinks and have a seat. One of the indoor food walk ups offered breakfast and another offered coffee. This is what brought us to this location. Masks were strongly encouraged while walking around but not while seated at your table. We sat outside and listened to the rain tap on the roof of the outdoor pavilion while sipping on iced coffee and eating a Cuban style breakfast along with some traditional crepes. Perfection. We were so pleased that we decided to come back that night for dinner. We were so happy to find out when we returned that there was a happy hour and a trivia theme night going on. After a delicious dinner from three different vendors, we grab the kids iPads from the car and let them have some screen time while eating ice cream from the Sugar Milk vendor, allowing mommy and daddy to enjoy some trivia. Fallon and Roman were willing to take a break away from the iPads to help us in the Disney category. I have to add that The Adventurous Alfords won LAST place and earned ourselves two free drinks from the bar that we gave to the next to last place winners, who gratefully accepted. Ha!
So that's it. Our time in West Palm Beach was short, sweet, and beautiful! We had awful weather and a pandemic working against us and we still had the best time! There is so much more to explore in Palm Beach so we can not wait to be back there in 2021, the year after the craziest year ever, am I right? So if you are going to be visiting this area in the near future, please let me know in the comments some must do's and sees! I would love to add them to our trip next year for sure!
Please remember that circumstances are constantly changing during this pandemic, so in order to have the best time on your vacation, you will need to be flexible and CALL CALL CALL ahead. Any restaurant you may want to try, any hotel amenities you will want to enjoy, any attractions you will want to visit... Call ahead and ask lots of questions. Unpleasant surprises without a back up plan can make a vacation miserable. Be safe out there my friends and don't forget to pack your masks... just in case.
The Adventurous Alfords