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.

What you can expect to see at the blue heron bridge (VIDEO)

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.

Blue Heron Bridge Scuba Diving Map

Diving conditions
The best time for diving the Blue Heron Bridge is half an hour before or after slack high tide. At this time, clear water from the Atlantic Ocean allows visibility up to 30 metres/100 feet. It is extremely important to review the tide tables, and plan your dives accordingly. Diving outside of this window puts you at risk of diving in heavy currents as the water transitions out of the ICW.

You will find the clearest water under the east and west bridges but if you are not careful, you can stir up the thin layer of sediment on the bottom, resulting in poor visibility. Another tip is to be prepared and aware of other divers around you. The Blue Heron Bridge was voted the top dive site in the nation in 2013 and that reputation, accompanied by very few shore diving locations in the area, brings in a lot of other divers. Since the average depth of your dive will be in the 3 metre/10 foot range, a typical dive at this location can last from 60 – 90 minutes, depending on air consumption rates.

Tide Predictions from
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Safety tips
Safety is always a key issue when diving. The tidal flow around the Blue Heron Bridge area can be strong when it is not high slack tide. Scuba divers are required to, and should always, use dive flags, otherwise there is a chance of being injured or fined. A boat channel runs about 30 meters/100 feet parallel to the shore and under the center of the bridge. Use caution and stay clear of this area.

The Phil Foster Park is open from sunrise to sunset. Diving is not allowed at any other time unless by a special permit from the county. Several dive shops offer guided night diving excursions and private tours. The park has on-site restrooms, picnic tables and grills as well as plenty of parking and space for pre-dive setup. Tanks, weights and other gear are available for rent or purchase at local dive shops located near the Blue Heron Bridge, and all over South Florida.

The diverse ecosystem, easy accessibility and all-weather diving conditions at the Blue Heron Bridge have earned it a top spot on the list of the best dive sites in the world. So this inconspicuous public park is actually a once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving destination! Enjoy and happy diving!

Here is some sea life you can expect to see!


2 replies
  1. Jen Adamson
    Jen Adamson says:

    Unfortunately, the ease of access has a down-side. The aquatic life can (and sometimes do) end up being a new addition to thieves fish tanks. Most blogs on this subject have been removed so that the general public is unaware of the unique array of life under the bridge. It is a rare and wonderful dive and I hope it is not further compromised by this post.

    Reply
  2. loco2
    loco2 says:

    Every diving location in the world has its compromise it is impossible to keep it quiet, unfortunately it is up to the authorities to decide the faith of this beautiful diving location. By keeping it quite does not help at all we shall keep on showing until the local community and authority come together and create laws to protection. No post nor ad will compromise anything Jen. It is up to us to show and preserve. No laws no preservation.

    Reply

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