BLUE HERON BRIDGE SCUBA DIVING
Ave Depth: 10 ft.
Max Dept 24 ft.
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Blue Heron Bridge, Palm Beach:
Some of the best scuba diving sites for fish-watching are in the least obvious places. The Blue Heron Bridge in Palm Beach, Florida, is one such biological hotspot. This is a top dive destination for spotting unusual species – if you have a keen eye. There are actually 2 bridges that traverse the small island (Singer Island) located in the inland waterway near the Lake Worth inlet. The two dive sites at Blue Heron Bridge consist of a variety of eco-niches such as sand, shell rubble, sea grass, sailboat mooring lines & anchors, and of course bridge pilings and concrete. New artificial reefs were introduced along the snorkel line of Blue Heron Bridge in 2016.
You may hear the site referred to as the Blue Heron Bridge, BHB or Phil Foster Park, but most local divers simply call it The Bridge or Blue Heron. Technically located in Riviera Beach, Blue Heron Bridge has become well known for the wide diversity of unique macro photo subjects that thrive in its waters, though one doesn’t need to be a photographer to enjoy it. The Blue Heron Bridge has over 282 species recorded in the REEF database and the number is increasing monthly. It is not unusual to see open-water scuba diving classes here alongside dedicated underwater photographers with very expensive equipment. Part of the BHB allure is the ease of the diving there. It is a beach entry, and there’s rarely more than a ripple in terms of waves, even if a hurricane is blowing offshore. Oh, and it’s free. A major plus for scuba divers.
The actual dive site is a local county park named Phil Foster Park that is protected with a “no-take” ordinance. The area is separated into two distinctive parts: the smaller bridge on the southeastern side, and the larger bridge on the southwestern side of Phil Foster Park. Both areas are separated by a long stretch of beach containing the snorkeling trail and a public guarded swimming area. All scuba dives are shore-based and must be timed with the high tide to be worthwhile. The dive can be safely done by entering the water one hour before high tide and exiting one hour after high tide. Depths average 6-14 feet and the water is usually clear even if the off-shore ocean is rough.
There are a couple of important things to consider when scuba diving at Blue Heron Bridge. Because of its location so close to the Lake Worth inlet, tidal flow can quite strong at any time other than slack tide around the bridges. Low tide has dirty water from the inlet so visibility will be at its worst. Half an hour before high slack tide (check the 2018 BHB high-tides tables) is the best time to enter the water at the Blue Heron Bridge, as it brings the clear Atlantic Ocean water. At other times, water be green and murky. You can check slack tide by entering the water and seeing if you are pulled towards or away from the bridges. Once the pull stops, it’s safe to go.
Lastly, fishing is allowed on both Blue Heron bridges so watch for fishing lines and be respectful of their right to fish there – but take a knife – to cut yourself free from fishing line. For safety reasons, the lifeguards ask that no scuba diving is done in the guarded swim area near the eastern side of the park. It is okay to enter the water there, but stay afloat until you are out of the guarded swim area which is marked by large orange buoys and signs on the beach.
Night diving is also popular at Blue Heron Bridge, but you will need a parking pass after dusk to scuba there. Guided tours are available from some of the local dive stores – check out the south east Florida dive calendars to find out when the next scuba group might be divng at the world famous Blue Heron Bridge!