First of all: people unfamiliar with the area will ask, “Is there good surfing in West Palm Beach?” not understanding that West Palm Beach doesn't really have a beach. Palm Beach surfing is a different story, but the only kind of West Palm Beach surfing is wakeboarding at Shark Wake Park. Our Palm Beach County slice of paradise is not only renowned for its stunning beaches and dreamt-about lifestyle, but also usually has the best surfing in all of South Florida (except for that late September 2022 blast from Hurricane Ian that pretty much bypassed the Palm Beaches completely and blew up in South Beach). So, in a strange, but particular order, let’s look at the best Palm Beach surfing, and other surf spots near West Palm Beach.
First, let’s talk seasons. The best time of year to go surfing in Palm Beach County coincides with the busy tourist season, unfortunately. The winter storms out over the Atlantic tend to kick up the best mid-to-long period swells, and our proximity to the gulf stream keeps the water clear, warm, and pleasant, even on the few days a year when the air temperature drops below fifty. There will be a few good swells here and there in Fall and Spring, and we can’t discount the Hurricane potential, but in general—late Fall to Early Spring is best.
Juno Beach Pier:
The Pier has to be at the top of the list because it’s almost undisputedly the best around. Of course, that means crowds, though. Depending on the tide, swell direction, and wind direction, one side will be better than the other. If you’re just getting started, stay out of the water here on the big swells. They’ll be bigger here than just about any other spot in the county, and you don’t want to be struggling just to get out and get in peoples’ way. However, there are sandbars that run out in both directions from the pier, so if you’re trying to avoid a crowd and are willing to sacrifice some quality, then you can find a good time at a secondary break north or south of the pier. Head north far enough and you’ll hit the Jupiter inlet, which can provide some of the best rights around.
As of this publishing date, Surfline still has a free camera (3 actually) to check the live action at the pier. When looking for a good surf spot, finding the concentration of surf shops tends to be a good rule of thumb, and Jupiter and Juno boast: Blueline Surf and Paddle Co, Ocean Magic Surf Shop, Locals Surf Shop, and Groundswell Surf Shop.
There’s a free parking lot right across A1A, as well as free on-street parking within walking distance. If it’s a perfect storm: bluebird weekend day, warm temperatures, and good surf, then the parking can get like a competitive game of musical chairs, so get there early (or very late) if you’re planning on going.
There are a few superior breaks up and down the island, but on a good day, you can avoid the crowds if you’re willing to walk a little or get up before the sun. If you’re looking for an in-depth surf report from a true expert, then check out WPTV’s local weatherman’s surf blog. James Wieland (aka the Surfing Weatherman) provides a little more color and context than most of the global forecasting sites.
When school is in session, the college kids will be all over arguably the best break—Flagpole—where there is limited free parking on some streets. If the waters of the municipal beach are crowded, then the lifeguards will whistle surfers out of the designated swimming areas, so be cognizant of where you’re drifting.
Of course, there is the elusive Reef Road, an east-west street that points at another good break on the island's northern end. However, there is basically no parking, so unless you’re getting dropped off, taking a bike, or live in the neighborhood, then getting there can get tricky.
Lake Worth Pier:
The Lake Worth Pier will turn on and off pretty much in accordance with the Palm Beach forecast. It’s a decently consistent spot, similar to the Juno Pier, but usually a little smaller and a little less crowded. The downside for non-Lake Worth residents is that parking isn’t free and isn’t super cheap during the season. So, unless you’re parking illegally or risking a ticket, you’re likely going to have to plug the meter (tap your phone). The structure of the pier provides a pretty steady wave during the season, making it a reliable spot for those looking for a shorter drive up from lower Palm Beach County.
Speaking of lower Palm Beach County, there are still waves to be had, just not as many, not as frequently, and usually not as big due to the blocking from the Bahamas. The further south you go in PBC, the more East/Northeast swells get swallowed in Florida’s own Bermuda Triangle. However, on the topic of surfing in Palm Beach County, we can’t neglect Boynton—the home of Nomad surf shop, one of the better, and better-known establishments in the area. The Boynton Inlet can turn on with the right conditions, as can the Deerfield Pier. Delray has the annual log jam, and Boca has more college kids just out there for the sake of being out there.
Palm Beach County isn’t known the world over for surfing, but when the conditions are right, there is nowhere on the East Coast that can compare: warm, crystal-clear blue water, sea turtles, an abundance of tiki bars and laid-back restaurants to grab a blackened grouper sandwich in flip flops—you just can’t beat it.
The waves aren’t always on, but if you’re into fishing, golf, paddleboarding, boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, volleyball, etc., then you’ll always have something to do. Wherever you go in the county, remember to respect the local surf community, listen to the lifeguards when applicable, and always be mindful of your abilities and limitations.