Cocoa Beach – Orlando’s Local Beach
The first time I ever came to Florida, like millions of visitors every year, I came to Orlando. The highlight was spending a few days at Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic East coast. The endless soft sands, warm waters and lack of crowds made this one of my favorite beach vacations of all time!
Cocoa Beach is home to around 12,500 residents and many more thousands of visitors pass through every year. It is located just south of Cape Canaveral near Merritt Island.
Cocoa Beach is known as the Small-Wave Capital of the world. It is perfect for beginner surfing with predictable rolling surf. Once you have mastered your balance, it is the perfect place to show off your moves, as many wetsuit-clad surfers do by the pier.
Close by is the world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop – open 24/7 with everything you can possibly imagine for rent or for sale in the Art Deco Surf Palace. It is the World’s Largest Surf Shop covering 52,000 square feet and compliments the nearby Ron Jon Watersports Shop. If you ever have a rainy day in Cocoa Beach, this is a great place to hang out!
As well as catching the rays on the sandy beach, you can go kayaking, sport fishing, take an airboat ride, go parasailing, take surf lessons or spot Florida wildlife from an airboat ride at Midway.
Cocoa Beach has a few restaurants and shops selling beachwear, shells and clothing. You may not be able to do your weekly shop but you will find plenty of places to rent and buy beach gear and maybe even get a tattoo! Casual beach bars and restaurants overlook the beach and places like The Beach Shack and Coconuts on the Beach offer good food, live music and the occasional bikini contest.
The gorgeous sandy beach is lined with hotels and holiday apartments to accommodate guests. Many more day-trippers take a day off from Orlando, 60 miles away, to enjoy a day relaxing on Cocoa Beach.
There are plenty of excellent things to do around Cocoa Beach. Take a stroll along the pier or visit Jetty Park where you can go fishing and watch cruise ships sail by from the beach.
A day at the Kennedy Space Center is a must for families of all ages. See the launch pads, explore the Space Garden and get a virtual experience of a Space Shuttle launch. There are many 3D film experiences and exhibits telling the tale of the Space Race.
One of the best things to do is take a two-hour boat trip with Island Boat Line Eco Tours through the small barrier islands known as Thousand Islands on the Banana River, part of the Indian River Lagoon. The tours depart from the E. Merritt Island Causeway near the sunset Waterfront Grill and Bar. The trips are on pontoon boats on calm waters and are led by a certified captain and a professional naturalist. They do a great job of spotting wildlife, including herons, alligators, frogs, turtles and generally an endangered manatee or two. In the nesting season, the island trees are covered in nests of herons, egrets and even pelicans, sitting on huge nests.
There are many more fun and interesting things to do and see so do check out “Days Out Around Cocoa Beach” (available in all formats) which has 15 more places to visit. The Villages residents will also find this a useful addition to my “The Villages” series of books.