An image of two containerships docked at the Port of Palm Beach

Port of Palm Beach: Everything you Need to Know

Image from the Public Domain

The Port of Palm Beach is a crucial artery to trade in the Caribbean. While some might discount it given its smaller size when compared to other Florida ports like Miami or Jacksonville, it plays a crucial role for the region. To some small island nations, Palm Beach has become a main access point for commercial goods. For the Bahamas, for instance, it is estimated that about 60% of all goods in the country originated from Palm Beach. Not to mention its high connectivity with the rest of the US handling over 16,000 rail cars full of goods every year. As a result, in 2023 it ranked as the 29th largest in North America and 21st largest in the country, as well as the 13th largest in the East Coast.

Given its importance, we at Auba put together a list of the most important statistics about the port and its true impact on the US economy.

Where is the Port of Palm Beach Located?

The Port of Palm Beach is located on the East coast of Florida,  roughly 77 miles north of Miami. In total, the port occupies 165 acres worth of land, and currently has a channel depth of over 37 ft capable of handling both container and bulk container ships, as well as roll on roll off vessels.

How Many TEUs Can the Port of Palm Beach Handle?

The specific number of TEUs—a common metric for containers—handled by the Port of Palm Beach varies year to year. In our most recent report (The State of North American Ports by Auba), we found that the port handled over 283,000 TEUs in 2023 alone.

Port of Palm Beach: Total TEUs Handled Over Time

A bar graph showing the TEUs handled by the port of palm beach between 22018 and 2023

(Data from Auba)

Across time, the port exhibited a considerable increase in the number of TEUs handled, with only a mild decrease in 2020 likely resulting from the COVID pandemic. Starting in 2021, the port’s activity grew considerably from over 199 thousand TEUs to over 196,000—a growth rate of 64.4%. By 2023, the number had reached over 283,000 containers handled. So, in a timeframe of just six years, containers handled at Palm Beach grew by 107%. 

What does the Port of Palm Beach export?

The port of Palm Beach thrives on exports. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 80% of its cargo consists of exports with only some minor imports arriving at the port. For 2023, it was estimated that the port handled a total of over 2.4 million short tons worth of goods valued at $14.9 billion. Amongst the top categories for exports were sugar, liquid asphalt, and molasses. Sugar alone accounts for some 19.87% of total exports at the port—most of it coming from local production in the Glades.

Exports by Category in the Port of Palm Beach (2023)

A bar graph showing the main exports from the port of palm beach in 2023 as measured in short tonnes

(Data from the Port of Palm Beach)

Crucially, the port serves as a lifeline to the Caribbean, with small island nations depending on its exports for subsistence. In some cases, like that of the Bahamas, it is estimated that around 60% of all goods consumed on the archipelago come directly from the Port of Palm Beach. The Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands also receive $1.54 and $1.4 bn worth of exports from Palm Beach respectively.

How does the Port of Palm Beach Compare to Other Ports? 

The port of Palm Beach remains crucial to the US and the Americas as a whole—not to mention to the Caribbean nations which rely on it for subsistence. In total, it handles 0.56% of all containers in the US. As a result, we found that the port is the 29th largest in the region and 21st largest in the US, comparable to the ports of Ensenada in Mexico and the Port of Boston in Massachusetts. However, it is worth noting that Palm Beach is far from being one of the main largest ports in North America and its total TEUs in 2023 only accounted for about 3.29% of those handled by the port of Los Angeles (the largest in the US).

Top 30 Ports in North America by TEUs Handled (2023)

A bar graph showing the top ports in North America by TEUs handled in 2023

(Data from Auba)