Just off the coast of the Palm Beaches, I slip beneath the surface of the crystal waters and descend into a colorful coral reef bustling with activity. A pair of queen angelfish glide past a moray eel, which bares its needle-sharp teeth. A hawksbill sea turtle floated into view. Purple sea fans sway with the current.
Reef diving is just one of many natural attractions in Palm Beach County, where unexpected possibilities come to life every day.
Take an adrenaline-pumping airboat ride through the Everglades or embark on a lion country safari. Reel in marlin on a deep-sea fishing trip or catch bass in the Loxahatchee River. Picnic on secluded beaches.
Finish your action-packed adventure at area hotels, resorts and bed & breakfasts. Through late 2010, at participating properties, receive an extra night for $19.09 when you stay two, three or four nights.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Palm Beach County boasts 47 miles of coastline. On a recent weekend, I visited one of my favorites: MacArthur Beach State Park in Singer Island. I boarded a tram that delivered me straight to the beach. Afterward, I enjoyed a blue grass concert at an outdoor pavilion.
Farther south, Spanish River Park in Boca Raton is an idyllic spot to grill out, play volleyball and hike. The park offers covered shelters, a boat dock and 1,850 feet of ocean frontage. The views from the 40-foot observation tower will astonish you.
If you love to fish, strap on a fighting belt and get ready to reel. The area is teeming with sportfish, and on deep-sea fishing trips I’ve landed blackfin tuna, sailfish and wahoo.
Those who enjoy exploring life below the water’s surface can snorkel along beaches or plunge deeper. I recently donned SCUBA gear to explore two miles of natural reef just offshore the legendary Palm Beach resort, The Breakers. More than 400 species of marine life, including sea turtles and stingrays, live there. On my dive, I even snared dinner: Florida spiny lobster.
Less than an hour’s drive from the beaches is Lake Okeechobee, the nation’s second largest freshwater lake. I've enjoyed zipping through the lake on an airboat, snapping pics of alligators and endangered birds, as well as bass fishing.
Bring binoculars to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, where 221 miles of Everglades habitat are home to hundreds of bird species.
At Riverbend Park in Jupiter, I’ve found kayaking the perfect way to experience “Old Florida.” Paddle the Loxahatchee River, the state’s first nationally designated wild and scenic river, and see bald eagles, otters and deer.
Just south in West Palm Beach is the diverse Okeeheelee Park. By water, go freshwater fishing, boating or water-skiing. On land, hit the links at the 27-hole golf course, play tennis or perfect a trick at the BMX track.
Explore the area’s wild side at West Palm Beach’s Lion Country Safari, where the lions’ roars seem to reverberate for miles. The attraction, Florida’s only drive-through safari and walk-through amusement park, houses more than 800 animals. Feed giraffes, wander the petting zoo or cool off in the water attraction.
For an intimate glimpse into the world of sea turtles, browse exhibits or sign up for a beach walk at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The Juno Beach center offers walks during nesting season.
With 2,400 square miles of natural wonder – and great deals at area hotels – Palm Beach County is the ultimate place for outdoor adventures.
This article is brought to you by the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information about Palm Beach County, visit www.palmbeachfl.com.