West Palm Beach Point of Interest: John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
The park is named after John D. MacArthur, whose Foundation contributed property for its development in the 1970s, and is located on and just north of Singer Island in North Palm Beach, Florida. The park was initially made available to the public in 1989. Land and water span 438 acres, including an estuary with a boardwalk of 1,600 feet (490 m) in length and Munyon Island (named after Dr James Munyon), an island in the Intracoastal Waterway where the luxurious Hygeia Hotel formerly stood. In 1917, a fire destroyed the hotel. Munyon Island, accessible only by kayak or boat, has hiking paths and pavilions available to the public.
From the early 1940s until the park’s rebranding, one part was known as Air Force Beach because it was frequented by Palm Beach Air Force Base employees. After the state took over the park in 1982, public naked bathing came to an end.
MacArthur Beach is a breeding place for endangered sea turtles, such as the loggerhead and green sea turtles, as well as the uncommon leatherback. Several bird species may be seen in the park, such as peregrine falcons, wood storks, and lesser terns, among others. Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park, a local non-profit, provides financial assistance to the park in addition to state money and entrance fees.
The William T. Kirby Nature Center houses displays on the park’s natural history, as well as live animal exhibits including two loggerhead sea turtles. Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park run the Beach Outfitters Gift Shop and Kayak Rentals, which has a wide range of items and offers kayak rentals, diving flags, lockers, and binoculars for hire.
In 2003, the beach belonging to Palm Beach County saw over 100,000 visitors. This area of the Atlantic Ocean is particularly attractive to tourists because the water is relatively calm and warm enough to swim almost year-round. This state park is categorized as an IUCN category IV meaning that it is a habitat and species management area.