Public beaches are a rare commodity here in Palm Beach. Most of the island's best beaches are fronted by private estates and inaccessible to the general public. However, there are a few notable exceptions, including Midtown Beach, east of Worth Avenue, on Ocean Boulevard between Royal Palm Way and Gulfstream Road, which boasts more than 100 feet of undeveloped sand. This newly widened coast is now a centerpiece and a natural oasis in a town dominated by commercial glitz. There are no restrooms or concessions here, though a lifeguard is on duty until sundown. A popular hangout for locals lies about 1 1/2 miles north of here, near Dunbar Street; they prefer it to Midtown Beach because of the relaxed atmosphere. Parking is available at meters along Florida A1A. At the south end of Palm Beach, there's a less-popular but better-equipped beach at Phipps Ocean Park. On Ocean Boulevard, between the Southern Boulevard and Lake Avenue causeways, there's a lively public beach encompassing more than 1,300 feet of groomed oceanfront. With picnic and recreation areas and plenty of parking, the area is especially good for families.
Rent anything from an English single-speed to a full-tilt mountain bike at the Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop, 223 Sunrise Ave. (tel. 561/659-4583; www.palmbeachbicycle.com). Rates are $15 per hour, $29 per half-day (9am-5pm), and $39 for 24 hours, and include a basket and lock (not that a lock is necessary in this fortress of a town). The most scenic route is called the Lake Trail, running the length of the island along the Intracoastal Waterway. On it, you'll see some of the most magnificent mansions and grounds, and enjoy the views of downtown West Palm Beach as well as some great wildlife.
There's good golfing in the Palm Beaches, but many private-club courses are maintained exclusively for members' use. Ask at your hotel or contact the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 561/471-3995) for information on which clubs are available for play. In the off-season, some private courses open to visitors staying in Palm Beach County hotels. This "Golf-A-Round" program boasts no greens fees; reservations can be made through most major hotels.
The best hotel for golf in the area is the PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens (tel. 800/633-9150; www.pga-resorts.com), which features a whopping 90 holes of golf.
The Palm Beach Public Golf Course, 2345 S. Ocean Blvd. (tel. 561/547-0598; www.golfontheocean.com), a popular public 18-hole course, is a par-3 that was redesigned in 2009 by Raymond Floyd and includes new layout, more holes by the ocean, and, down the road, a state-of-the-art clubhouse. The course opens at 8am on a first-come, first-served basis. Club rentals are available. Greens fees start at $14 to $45 per person depending on time and season.
Year-round warm waters, barrier reefs, and plenty of wrecks make South Florida one of the world's most popular places for diving. One of the best-known artificial reefs in this area is a vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, which was sunk offshore in 1985. Nature has taken its toll, however, and divers can no longer sit in the car, which has been ravaged by time and salt water. For gear and excursions, call The Scuba Club, 4708 N. Flagler Dr., West Palm Beach (tel. 561/844-2466; www.thescubaclub.com).
There are hundreds of tennis courts in Palm Beach County. Wherever you are staying, you're bound to be within walking distance of one. In addition to the many hotel tennis courts, you can play at Currie Park, 2400 N. Flagler Dr., West Palm Beach (tel. 561/835-7025), a public park with three lighted hard courts. They're free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Call the Blue Water Boat Rental, 200 E. 13th St., Riviera Beach (tel. 561/840-7470; www.bluewaterboatrental.com), to arrange sailboat, jet-ski, bicycle, kayak, water-ski, and parasail rentals.