Ocean Ridge Natural Area

Ocean Ridge, Palm Beach County

little blue heron
1 Corrine Street
Ocean Ridge


Overview: Ocean Ridge Natural Area is all about mangroves — reds, whites, blacks. They are the keystone species here, the reason why the natural area exists. Ocean Ridge sits on 12 acres of the Lake Worth Lagoon, essentially a man-made refuge, part of an effort to restore the lagoon to the what nature intended and what it was decades ago when mangroves provided critical habitat for fish and fowl, and protected the shore against battering storms.

A 1,300-foot accessible trail cuts through the tangle of trees to a central island where there is a boat dock, interpretive kiosk and an observation tower. It's an easy hike for everyone.

Ocean Ridge is reachable by boat, by bike and by foot but not directly by car — there is no parking lot. Paid public parking is available at Oceanfront Park on A1A just north of Ocean Boulevard, a 10-minute walk away. Note: There are no signs on A1A indicating the natural area's presence. Just look for Corrine Street and head west. The entrance is directly ahead.

History: Planning for for Ocean Ridge Natural Area began in 1997; in 2006 Palm Beach County's Department of Environmental Resource Management leased the site from the town of Ocean Ridge. To create the preserve, ERM staff and volunteers planted 9,000 red mangroves to create a mangrove forest and 4,000 tropical trees and shrubs to create a marine hammock. ERM and the town co-manage the preserve.

What You'll See: The entrance to Ocean Ridge Natural Area sits back about a hundred yards or so from A1A. Mangroves line the trail, blacks first, as visitors stroll along; soon reds and whites dominate. Blue land crabs and sand fiddler crabs dart along the ground. As the site transitions to reds and whites, mangrove tree crabs clamber about the trunks, branches and leaves of the mangrove forest, while ibis and herons forage in the dark recesses below.

Keep an eye out for — ospreys, little blue herons, night herons, ibis, egrets, cardinals and mockingbirds. Look for warblers and other migratory birds in the cooler months. If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a manatee.

There are gumbo limbo trees, strangler figs, cabbage palms and other trees. In the understory there is coral bean, east coast dune sunflower, necklace pod, beautyberry, snowberry, Christmasberry and more.

Amenities: As noted, there is no on-site parking but there is a bike rack and two floating docks. The 1,300-foot trail includes a concrete walkway and a boardwalk. There is a two-story tower at the end of the trail. There is an interpretive kiosk near the dock. There is no drinking water or restroom facilities. Both are available at Oceanfront Park.

Nearby: Ocean Ridge Hammock Park is about a half-mile south of Ocean Ridge Hammock Park. Delray's municipal beach is about a five- or ten-minute drive to the south. Farther north and to the west sits Hypoluxo Scrub Natural Area and a few minutes farther away is High Ridge Natural Area. Places more akin to Ocean Ridge Natural Area include the Lantana Nature Preserve in Lantana and Snook Island Natural Area and adjacent Bryant Park in Lake Worth.

Of Note: Ocean Ridge Natural Area is open sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Admission is free. A reminder: there is no on-site parking. However, public parking is available at Oceanfront Park, a ten-minute walk to the north.

Cover Photo: A little blue heron perches in the mangroves west of the floating docks.
Virtual Tour

Getting There ...
DIRECTIONS: Ocean Ridge Natural Area sits on the west side of North Ocean Avenue (A1A) north of Woolbright Road and south of East Ocean Boulevard. Both are reachable from U.S. 1 in Boynton Beach. The parking lot at Oceanfront Park is perhaps a quarter mile north of East Ocean. Once you park your car, Corrine Street is a 10-minute walk south; the entrance to the natural area is at the end of the street, perhaps 100 yards or so from the highway. Keep in mind that there are no signs for the natural area on A1A.

Photo Gallery for Ocean Ridge Natural Area

Click on the photograph to see an enlarged image. Click on the name to read more about the species.

Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.