Spanish River Park

Boca Raton, Palm Beach County

spanish river park beach
3001 N. Ocean Blvd.
Boca Raton


Overview: Spanish River Park is 94.4 acres of prime barrier island real estate straddling the Intracoastal Waterway and the beach. It's a place you go for a swim, lounge on the beach, have a picnic or get the kids moving outdoors. But it also offers a variety of natural habitats, including mangrove forest, coastal hammock and beach dunes, and trails that wind through them.

The birding is good enough to rate the park a spot on the Great Florida Birding Trail (link below). The trees provide a resting place for birds heading north and south during the fall and spring migrations. The better spots during our visit were the trees in the northern end of the park, and along the beach.

History: In the 1960s, Boca Raton leaders decided to preserve as much of the city's remaining open beach as possible. Between 1965 and 1973, voters approved a series of bond issues that raised $33 million to make that happen. Among the target properties: the 94.4 acres that is now Spanish River Park. The name, Spanish River, comes from a freshwater stream that once flowed along the park's western edge. Back in the day, what is now the Intracoastal Waterway was a series of freshwater lakes, streams and marshes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged and channelized and opened permanently to the ocean. Thus ended Spanish River.

What You'll See: The park with its wooded areas is an attraction for migrating birds during fall and spring migrations. Species we spotted included northern mockingbird, warblers, gnatcatchers, cardinals, terns, ringbilled gulls, laughing gulls and sanderlings. You may catch an osprey patrolling the beach or the intracoastal or an egret or heron foraging along the inland shore.

Amenities: There is a nature trail running along the western edge of the park and a bird observation area in the park's north end. Spanish River Park has a camp site for youth groups, but overnight camping is not permited for individuals. There are picnic tables and pavilion and a kayak launch are on the Intracoastal Waterway. There is plenty of parking, drinking water and restrooms. Three tunnels provide easy pedestrian access from the Intracoastal side of the park to the beach without having to cross busy A1A.

Nearby: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is a few minutes drive to the south of Spanish River Park. Atlantic Dunes Park is about five or 10 minutes to the north and the Delray Municipal Beach is a short distance beyond Atlantic Dunes. To the west along Spanish River Boulevard just beyond I95 is Pondhawk Natural Area.

Links: The Instittute for Regional Conservation's inventory of plants for Spanish River Park is here. The Great Florida Birding Trail's take on Spanish River Park.

Of Note: There is a parking fee ($35) if you enter the park by vehicle. Boca Raton residents may buy an annual beach pass for $75. Check the website for details and current rates. There is some metered street parking nearby and there is no charge to enter the park on foot. Spanish River Park is open 8 a.m. until sunset every day of the year.

Cover Photo: Avian royaty: A pair of royal terns enjoying the beach on a warm December afternoon.
Virtual Tour

Getting There ...
Spanish River Park sits just south of Spanish River Boulevard Along the west side of North Ocean Boulevard (A1A). It can be reached I95 by taking the Spanish River Boulevard exit and heading east. From U.S.1, turn east onto Spanish River Boulevard.

Photo Gallery for Spanish River Park

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.