The Blue Heron Bridge, located in sunny Riviera Beach, Florida is a Winter wonderland for those willing to don their wetsuits and venture in.
Cold(er) weather brings seasonal changes to the beloved dive site at Phil Foster Park which results in biodiverse marine life, fun behavior, and all-around great dives at the bridge.
For those curious to dive the Blue Heron Bridge during this vibrant winter season, Force-E Scuba Centers is here to help.
New to the Blue Heron Bridge? Click here to learn more about this awesome dive and snorkel site.
What kind of fish and marine life is found at the Blue Heron Bridge during winter?
The Blue Heron Bridge is located near the Riviera Beach Florida Power and Light power plant, which attracts manatees from the ocean in search of warmer waters. This makes manatees an even more likely sight the cooler the water gets! Remember if you see a manatee please do not chase, harass or touch...they are protected by law. Other large animal sightings like spotted eagle rays and even the occasional friendly but shy nurse shark are common from the good visibility and colder water temperatures that winter weather brings.
In the shallows of the Blue Heron Bridge it becomes seahorse city during the winter months. These beloved critters live in such shallow water that they can even be seen snorkeling! They are very active this time of year and will go about eating and enjoying their time if they remain undisturbed so keep an eye out in the meadows and remain respectful to enjoy the best behavior. It’s good practice to keep fins up during surface swims year-round, but it is especially so during the time that these critters are scattered along the shallows where people swim and play in the water.
Other small critter sightings during this time are Nudibranchs, so go very slow and look on the weeds and grasses for these pretty creatures. Also small, look for the fairy-like fish popping in-and-out of the sand. You will most likely get to meet a jawfish incubating eggs. The Jawfish mouth-broods their eggs and will periodically rotate them to ensure they’re receiving fresh oxygen. This behavior can be quite a sight to encounter and photograph! It’s also common to encounter curious, young octopi during the winter months at the Blue Heron Bridge, they are most active at night, join us for our Force-E FREE BHB Night dive events, the schedule for these can be found here.
To make sure to see all these incredible critters, reach out to Force-E Scuba Centers to book a local guide. Our professionals not only help you navigate this dive site, they dive it so often they know where the spots are to find them.
What kind of winter weather should divers expect at the Blue heron bridge?
Northern cold fronts begin making their way down the eastern seaboard around November and bring with them storms and colder weather. These fronts typically take a day or two to blow over and then gorgeous weather comes in and warms everything back up. Sometimes it stays warm for a few weeks and sometimes only a few days. The longer it stays warm, the more likely it will be to get a little hot and humid again, then a storm makes its way down and the cycle repeats until about mid-march.
Right after a cold front is when we experience blue skies, sunshine, and that crisp 75 F weather that makes you want to do nothing but dive, dive, dive!
Out-of-town divers should give themselves a few days on each end of their trip if they are truly looking to enjoy Florida’s sunshine during their stay but it is very unlikely to have to cancel or call a dive at the Blue Heron Bridge for weather, due to its protected nature.
What is the Water Temperature at the Blue Heron Bridge during Winter?
December, January, and February have dipping water temperatures and typically reach their minimum around the second week of February which is about 72 F (22 C). The average water temperature will rest around 74 F (23 C) but does not usually get warmer than 76 F (24 C).
What Wetsuit is Best for Winter at the Blue Heron Bridge?
Winter in Florida still requires thermal protection although it may seem bright and sunny on the top side. The right mm thickness varies from person to person. Divers who get cold choose up to 7 mm with a core on the colder days and many visitors are happy with a 5 mm or even true cold water divers will choose a 3 mm or even just a core. A drysuit has not been necessary for the Blue Heron Bridge though it is not uncommon for divers to choose this option for the deeper dives just outside the Port of Palm Beach. This diver tends to get cold and opts for a 7 mil with a core and hood to ensure lengthy 2+ hour dives with a camera.
What is the visibility at the Blue Heron Bridge during winter?
Local divers typically choose to dive a few days after the cold fronts pass through to give the visibility at the Blue Heron Bridge some time to settle down as it does tend to stir up with the storms. After a few calm days, we can see amazing 30-foot visibility that brings with it large animal sightings and blue water that makes for some incredible dives!
When to Dive the Blue Heron Bridge during winter?
Diving the Blue Heron Bridge is always best done at the high tides no matter the season the high tide table can be found here. Weekdays, night dives, and off times are going to be less busy and weekends will have a lot of dive traffic even on stormy or windy days as the offshore boats get blown out leaving divers searching for a different option. The bridge remains a popular dive destination even when the water cools down. People love coming to the Blue Heron Bridge from all over during the winter months because it is so accommodating for a dive holiday, not to mention there are more local divers present in South Florida during the winter months and many of them enjoy heading to the Blue Heron Bridge. Weekend divers should get to the bridge with plenty of time before the high tide to ensure a quick parking spot and a full dive.
How is Snorkeling at the Blue Heron Bridge during Winter?
Plenty of locals and tourists will choose to snorkel the Blue Heron Bridge throughout Florida’s colder months. As previously stated, seahorses are easy to spot in the shallows, making them a treasure anyone can find. The snorkel trail is only more fun when the blue ocean water floods in at high tide, keep an eye out for schools of sheepshead, angelfish, barracuda, and spadefish! Sun exposure and dehydration are still factors even once the water cools down so don’t forget the reef-safe sunscreen and reusable water bottles!
Time to dive?
For other questions regarding the Blue Heron Bridge, divers and snorkelers are welcome to contact Force-E Scuba Centers. Those ready to dive for themselves can plan their dive with the Blue Heron Bridge Tide Chart. Let’s go diving!