What’s the best way to dive the Blue Heron Bridge? Here we outline a few suggestions to ensure an enjoyable shore dive adventure.
From sunken artifacts and colorful fish to coastal breezes and crystal clear waters, Florida’s sunny shores offer some of the best scuba diving in the country. The Blue Heron Bridge, one of the premiere shore diving destinations, features a combination of excellent conditions, easy accessibility and a vast variety of marine life for divers, snorkelers and underwater photographers.
The diverse ecosystem of this top-rated dive site, located in Phil Foster Park on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), is just inside Palm Beach County’s largest estuary, the Lake Worth Inlet. Since the area is protected by the ICW, scuba diving is possible in weather conditions that would normally limit time in the water via boat or shore diving off Florida’s East Coast.
Location, parking and pre-dive setup
Phil Foster Park is located at 900 Blue Heron Boulevard, Riviera Beach, FL 33404. Driving down Blue Heron Boulevard, you must first drive over the Blue Heron Bridge (heading east) before reaching the entrance to Phil Foster Park and arriving at your final destination. The first thing you will see is the boat channel, do NOT park or dive in this area. As you pass the boat ramp parking area and continue past the restrooms, you will see designated vehicle parking for the park, as well as the dive entry areas. These parking spots fill up fast, so you will want to give yourself plenty of time to find a parking spot. Park your car in one of these locations and proceed to the dive staging and entry locations directly beneath the bridge.
Entering the water
The main diving attractions at the Blue Heron Bridge include a smaller bridge on the southeast side and a larger one on the southwest side. These two bridges are separated by a band of beach that contains the park’s snorkeling trail and swimming area. Once you enter the water, you can swim or snorkel to the east towards the smaller bridge, sometimes called the Old Bridge, or you can swim west to explore the area around and under the main/larger Blue Heron Bridge. This is known as the West Side. Here is where you will find cement columns as well as smaller wrecks that are filled with all sorts of amazing marine life such as schooling french grunts, sea horses, frog fish and all kinds of exotic and rare species of marine life! If entering the water on the eastern side of the beach, stay afloat until you are out of the swimming area marked by orange buoys.
What you can expect to see
The dive depths at Blue Heron Bridge range from 2-6 metres/5-20 feet, making it great for both beginners and experienced divers. Diving enthusiasts can expect to see a wide assortment of sea life in a fairly small area. It is not uncommon to see pipefish, crabs, lobsters, frog fish, schooling grunts, bat fish, and seahorses. If you are really lucky, you just might spot an octopus, angelfish, school of rays, or even a manatee! It should be noted that divers and snorkelers should NOT touch or disrupt the marine life. This can be dangerous to the diver (i.e. fireworms, coral, arrow crabs etc.) as well as the wildlife.
The Phil Foster Artificial Reef and Snorkel Trail is composed of nearly two acres and 600 tons of limestone boulders. Large rocks placed upon smaller piles of rocks have created a habitat of cracks and crevices for sea creatures to live and hide in. Shallow and close to shore, this man-made reef makes a convenient and scenic spot for snorkelers and nature lovers.
All of these natural and man-made habitats make the waters surrounding the Blue Heron Bridge a macro hot spot. You really can see all different kinds of marine life. Below are some images to give you a preview of what you can expect to see.