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The Paradise of the Palm Beaches

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson once said, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” That’s not a problem we will ever have in our little piece of Floridian paradise. On our daily commutes to work, we pass through some of the most scenic, stunning views in the country.

We asked readers to submit their favorite photos for a chance to be featured in our January issue. We received more than 500 stunning submissions, and on these pages we present the best of the best.

(Photo above: Sunrise at the Juno Beach Pier the morning after Tropical Storm Andrea passes through the area in June 2013. Credit: Michael Brown.)

During a late-night storm, lightning strikes next to the Jupiter Lighthouse around 2 a.m. Florida has more lightning storms per year than any other state in the U.S. Photo by Austin Alberto.

A large juvenile green sea turtle, named Captain Hook, is found floating in the Intracoastal Waterway near PGA Boulevard in August 2013. After four months of rehabilitation, the sea turtle was released by Loggerhead Marinelife Center off of Juno Beach. Photo by Kat Rumbley.

Built in traditional shingle style in 1898, the DuBois Pioneer Home is listed on the National Register of Historic places. It was built atop an Indian shell mound. Photo by Jorge Huerta.

Following an afternoon rainstorm, a tiny frog sits in a pool of water at the top of a small potted pineapple plant at Jupiter Farms. “He was no bigger than my thumb,” the photographer says. Photo by Emily Calkins.

The photographer captures West Palm Beach at 5 a.m. when the city is quiet, calm and alive with color. Photo by David Scarola.

The photographer captures the water at sunrise near the Juno Beach Pier using a long exposure. “Being that it was early in the morning, there was essentially no one else around other than a few fishermen. These factors aligned to exhibit the true beauty of the scene and of the Juno Beach Pier,” the photographer says. Photo by Alonzo Ortiz.

The photographer captures this swell about a half mile north of the Juno Beach Pier as it breaks on a shallow sandbar. He uses an SPL water housing to protect his camera. “I grew up surfing in Jupiter and have had a deep love for the sport ever since I started,” the photographer says.Photo by Sam Farkas.

The Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa’s tranquility pool, as seen from the hotel’s fifth floor, is one of the most relaxing spots in Palm Beach. Photo by Cheri Craft.

Miss Rose O’Hara visits her grandparents at Blue Caribe Gems at Via Mizner, Palm Beach. Photo by Cheri Craft.

From her vantage point on Palm Beach island, the photographer captures this view of West Palm Beach. “It’s a beautiful view, and from this place you can see all the happenings right across the water,” the photographer says. Photo by Elizabeth de la Rosa.

A team of fishermen exiting the Jupiter Inlet at sunrise wave from aboard a sport fishing boat. Photo by David Scarola.

Harry Scarola, 8, enjoys a summer afternoon, playfully relaxing by the Jupiter Inlet at DuBois Park. Photo by David Scarola.

The photographer contrasts the colorful clouds with the palm trees at Coral Cove Park on Jupiter Island. Photo by Mike Poole.

Brandon Bowe, a professional kiteboarder, makes an appearance at Jupiter Beach, a popular spot for elite water sports athletes. Photo by Lori Griffith.

Coral Cove Park on Jupiter Island showcases Anastasia limestone and coquina rock formations. Scientists estimate that the rocks were formed 120,000 years ago, and are composed primarily of shell and coral fragments, with fossils and sand. Photo by Jeffrey Bundonis.

The first surfer of the day awaits the incoming swell. Photo by Max Chesnes.

The photographer captures a mother manatee and her calf near the Palm Beach Inlet. “I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter many of these docile creatures over the years while free diving, and a lot of them are like puppy dogs at times, begging to be scratched and genuinely wanting attention. After about 10 minutes of interacting with these two, they came up from below me and posed like this for a second or two, and then slowly swam off. It was a wonderful moment and the best manatee encounter I’ve had,” the photographer says. Photo by Sam Farkas.

The photographer experiments with slow shutters and flash photography to create unusual action shots. “I take my dogs to the beach here in Jupiter weekly, and what better subject to practice on than my goofy animals? To take this photo, I [ran] as fast as I could alongside my beautiful dog Emma, and mostly shot blindly in hopes of getting a usable shot,” he says. Photo by Sam Farkas.

The photographer captures a full rainbow stretch over the Alternate A1A Bridge in Jupiter. Photo by David Scarola

While free diving near Jupiter Inlet, the photographer captures a swarming school of lookdowns. “They made multiple passes as I sat calmly on the bottom marveling at how the light reflected off their thin bodies. It was a sight I will never forget,” he says. Photo by Sam Farkas.

On a rainy summer day at the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Jupiter High School student Jonathan Beres captures these two great blue herons as they prepare to mate. “When I saw the birds begin to interact with each other, it was amazing and very interesting. So I decided I would take a picture to share the experience with as many people as possible,” he says. Photo by Jonathan Beres.