Why It’s Better Diving Blue Heron Bridge from the East Shore Instead of Phil Foster Park, Riviera Beach

Better Diving Blue Heron Bridge East Shore Phil Foster Park Riviera Beach, Why It’s Better Diving Blue Heron Bridge from the East Shore Instead of Phil Foster Park, Riviera Beach

Diving Blue Heron Bridge on High Slack and Low Slack Tides

We’ve spent some time learning how to dive the area around the very popular Blue Heron Bridge. I’m glad to share our experiences so your dives can be as fun and rewarding as ours have been. A shore dive in Florida at the Easternmost point in Florida is an unusual and special experience. I’m going to run you through several scenarios – diving from Phil Foster park as well as diving from the shore to the East of the park.

Advance Observations

We got in the habit of stopping by the evening before a dive to make note of what boats are moored where to use as reference once we are in the water, and, before entering the water.

We use the boats to tell us where the tide is still running and where it has slacked.

A powerboat with a shallower keel will point into the current or wind, whichever is stronger. A sailboat with a deeper keel will track toward the current. This knowledge shows you exactly where the current is still running strongly, and where the wind strength is stronger than tidal rip. If boats are pointing in all different directions; it is slack tide at that location. Due to the large number of boats moored south of the Blue Heron Bridge, you have a fantastic indication of exactly where the current is running and at what velocity.

To the East and West are two channels; ICW to the Wast and a boat ramp and low bridge to the East. Because these two cuts are relatively narrow; the current can rip through there. Avoid these two areas during the full run of the tide; incoming or outgoing. Unless… unless you are using the tide to give you a “drift dive” through the bridge. Make sure the opposite tide will return you to your starting point!

Diving High Slack – the preferred time – from Phil Foster Park

Our first experience was diving the west bridge, with a lot of incoming current. We trusted a local to lead the dive, and learned that no matter what; do your own research and know an area and the conditions for yourself. We were in far better physical condition than the dive master, so it was only an annoyance and not a safety problem.

Our next few dives were, again, high slack tide dives from the beach at Phil Foster Park.

We learned that from the southern beach at Phil Foster park, you can get in the water about 45 minutes before the peak of the high slack. That is due to the protection that the shallow area in front of the beach affords. If there is any lingering current there; it’s moving you toward the beach and the shallows.

An easy dive is to start from the beach, dive the snorkel trail West to East, ride the last of the incoming tide through the East bridge, enjoy plenty of “night diving” under the bridge during the high slack. Then begin your return dive with the outgoing tide. This method can give you as much as two hours of bottom time at depths no more than 30 feet. The snorkel trail is in about 15 feet of water, so perfect to enjoy that depth three or more minutes at the end of your dive.

Diving Low Slack – from Phil Foster Park

Diving the low slack is a lot more temperamental and less dependable for several reasons.

The outgoing, or ebb tide anywhere is stronger than the incoming due to a plethora of factors.

First – gravity! A falling tide is… falling. Also, the outgoing tide is emptying into a large area – the ocean – with little resistance. The incoming tide is slower as it fills around bays, bends, islands and other restriction. While you may comfortably swim against the incoming tide; the outdoing tide can be twice as strong – with a much shorter slack time – and twice as difficult to buck.

Second, the visibility may not be as good. This is due to all the runoff from Lake Worth to the North draining through the two bridges to the South. Sometimes you get lucky, as we did in December, and had a fantastic low slack dive since there had been very little rain contributing to silt and sediment. In March, our low slack dive was a lot murkier, but still wonderful.

Third, local knowledge tells us sometimes the low slack is such a short period; the tide may run out, and start coming back in very quickly.

Diving low slack yields a far shorter dive time around the bridges – but you may be able to dive the bridge during the slack, then if you are a good swimmer, also circle around the snorkel trail before the current really kicks up again.

Diving High Slack – from Starfish Point – the BEST OPTION

About five lots to the South of the East section of Blue Heron Bridge is an Airbnb with waterfront access; Starfish Point. The benefit of diving from here is you don’t have to get to Phil Foster park two hours before slack in order to get a parking spot. Also, you can conduct a night dive whenever you like without the limitation of obtaining a permit for the park, or making sure you are out of their parking lot by a certain time.

Diving high slack from Starfish Point is the best possible scenario. Enter the water about 30 minutes before high slack. Use the incoming tide to drift you through all the abandoned docks between them and the bridge. Enjoy your “night dive” under the bridge, explore the area to the North of the East bridge. As the tide begins to ebb, it will carry you right back to Starfish Point.

Diving Low Slack – from Starfish Point

Diving low slack from Starfish Point is a bit tricker. Your dive time will be far shorter because you will swim against the last of the outgoing current to get to the bridge. Your return pits you against the incoming tide, so don’t wait too late to turn around. This dive gives you about an hour of bottom time. If the current gets stronger, head East and take advantage of the shallower water and breakwater effect of all the pilings to return to Starfish Point.

Diving High Slack – from Open Waters Resort

Since Open Waters Resort is North of the East Bridge, your high slack dive will be much shorter. From Open Waters, you will swim South against the incoming tide, then return north against the outgoing tide. To avoid both of those scenarios; stick to the half hour before and after the slack tide.

Diving Low Slack – from Open Waters Resort

This is easier than diving high slack from Open Waters Resort because you are able to drift dive South through the bridge, ramble around the snorkel trail, then return to Open Waters to the North on the incoming tide. However, low slack is the time of lesser visibility.

Backup Plan

Diving from either Starfish Point or Open Waters Resort, there is one possible bailout plan. Head for the beach at Phil Foster park with your dive partner. One of you stay with all the gear, and the other go get a car and drive back to your lodging. Or, stage a car at the park in advance.

Why We Started Diving Blue Heron Bridge from the East Shore

We used to stay at Portside on the Inlet on Singer Island. The kitschy 1960’s vacation efficiencies were right on the inlet. As a boat captain, I like nothing better in my surface intervals than to watch boats come and go through the bumpy inlet. Portside had a pool on the inlet, and endless beach and waterfront views. When they closed and were torn down to make way for high rises – sob – I was forced to look for alternative lodging.

Initially, we had never even considered somewhere on the water off the inlet. Our main criteria for lodging was a great view, a pool, and proximity to Phil Foster park. When I realized Portside had closed, it forced me to find a new lodging option. I had no idea I would find such a solution with added benefits.

Incredibly, with staying on the water so close to the park, we would not have to brave the parking lot. No more arriving two hours in advance in order to get a decent parking spot, or any parking spot. Also, no more dragging tanks across the parking lot, and no more guarding our gear while we ferried gear back and forth. Dead battery? Another trek in hot wetsuit across the parking lot.

No more arriving at the park two hours early and sitting around waiting on the tide. We could eat breakfast, sip coffee, and lounge at the water’s edge with bathrooms, refrigerator, and spare everything only steps away in our room! And yes, now a trip back to the room for a charged battery is shorter than the trip across the parking lot to our car! Wow! It really is a “game changer.”

Staying right on the water meant we could use a rolling cart to bring all our gear right to the water’s edge! With staying somewhere private; we could leave all our clothes, shoes, water bottles, snacks, sunscreen right there by the water’s edge! Upon return; no more parking lot jockeying, With fresh water rinses right there; all we had to do was immediately start to – relax! We’re already “home!”

Through endless searching, I found both Starfish Point and Open Waters Resort. We tried Starfish Point first, then Open Waters Resort.

There are many similarities, and many differences. Depending on your dive group’s wishes, needs, emphasis, and style; the two suit different needs. If you need an oven for dinners; Starfish. If you want a pool; Open Waters.

Better Diving Blue Heron Bridge East Shore Phil Foster Park Riviera Beach, Why It’s Better Diving Blue Heron Bridge from the East Shore Instead of Phil Foster Park, Riviera Beach

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