This Florida Beach Town Has Bioluminescent Kayaking, Sunset Cruises, and the Best Waves to Surf

Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach is considered one of the best beach towns in Florida, and for good reason.

From its famous pier to the prominent surf scene infused with local culture, Cocoa Beach provides a much-needed respite from the stresses of daily life. Grab a cocktail, find a warm spot on the beach, and get ready to relax. 

If you’re in the area, traveling to Orlando, Daytona Beach, or down to West Palm Beach, make sure to stop by Cocoa Beach and explore the hidden gems this seaside town has to offer. 

Swim, Surf, and Bask in the Sun at Cocoa Beach

Although there are countless things to do in Cocoa Beach, don’t forget to enjoy the namesake of the town — the actual Cocoa Beach.

Did you know there are more than 72 miles of shoreline in Cocoa Beach? That gives you plenty of opportunities to sunbathe on the warm, golden sand. 

There’s no better place to surf in Florida than at Cocoa Beach.

Go on a Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour

Another fun water activity is to go on a bioluminescence kayaking tour. The best time of year for these tours are summer months when you’ll see the most activity for bright, colorful waterways that make for a magical, romantic evening out with your loved one. 

Paddle the Banana River Lagoon

Visitors can also explore more than 300 acres of saltwater marshes and mangroves in the nearby Banana River Lagoon, a 20-minute drive from downtown Cocoa Beach. Travel by boat or try standup paddling down the waterways as you navigate from island to island. 

Check Out the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

A trip to Cocoa Beach wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier. At over 800 feet long, the pier brings restaurants, gift shops, and live entertainment to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit the area. 

It’s also a historical landmark. Once known as “Canaveral Pier,” Cocoa Beach Pier was built in 1962 as an integral spot along the legendary Space Coast of Florida. These days, visitors can witness SpaceX launches from nearby Cape Canaveral, just 15 minutes north of the beach. 

Cocoa Beach Pier is also a great spot to watch the sunset after a long day relaxing on the beach. Cozy up to your sweetheart with some cocktails and enjoy the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Visit the Historic Cocoa Village

Cocoa Village was settled in the mid-19th century and has become a popular tourist attraction. This charming district mixes historic buildings, a booming culinary scene, and local artisans who run eclectic shops and boutiques. 

In the heart of downtown Cocoa, the Cocoa Riverfront Park is nearly 10 acres of riverfront property along the Indian River. Families and couples can enjoy a boardwalk, a playground area, various spots for fishing and water sports, and an amphitheater for outdoor concerts. 

Cocoa Village is a walkable neighborhood, making it easy to spend the day exploring the various shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. The Cocoa Village Playhouse was once a silent-movie theater and now puts on plays and musicals each season and is known as the “Broadway of Brevard.” 

Check Out Lori Wilson Park

Lori Wilson Park sits on 32 acres of natural Florida coastline. With six dune crossovers and three pavilions along a 1,000-foot boardwalk, travelers can enjoy the day beachcombing, grilling with friends, or surfing. 

The park is a maritime hammock, an evergreen hardwood forest that develops along the back dunes of barrier islands. Spend the afternoon wandering through the hammock, observing different plant species and wildlife, from Spanish moss to oak trees and regional birds that live in the hammock. 

Lori Wilson Park is open every day of the year, from 7 am to 7 pm.

Admission and parking are free and visitors can bring their dogs and let them run around the dog park on the property. 

Explore the Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center, located 25 minutes north of Cocoa Beach in Merritt Island, attracts space and adventure enthusiasts to the area every year. It’s a top destination for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like meeting an astronaut, seeing space shuttles up close, and watching shuttle launches. 

The Visitors Complex allows guests to immerse themselves in the past and present world of space exploration. Tours are available to take you “behind the gates” to see where shuttle missions and the Apollo spacecraft launched, learn about current space program innovations, and walk through the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

There’s even a Rocket Garden with multiple rockets and spacecraft for visitors to see. You can also pay respect to the astronauts we lost on Columbia and Challenger at the Forever Remembered Memorial.  

Visit Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral has a long and storied history connected to America’s space, science, and technology industries. As a centerpiece of the Space Coast, Cape Canaveral is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, with over 700 buildings and facilities part of the complex. 

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a popular attraction, with over 140,000 acres of wildlife refuge along Florida’s largest barrier island. Situated along the Indian River and nearby marshlands, you can explore hiking trails, go fishing, and find ideal spots for birdwatching. You might also catch manatees as they move inland during winter months at the Manatee Sanctuary Park

Port Canaveral is also one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, where Disney Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines frequently leave from and dock. If you find yourself on your way to or from a cruise and in the area, make sure to explore the history and 

Go Shopping at the Iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop

Whether you’re a seasoned wave rider or an amateur grom (a young surfer), Ron Jon Surf Shop is a must-stop destination on your trip to Cocoa Beach. For over 60 years, Ron Jon Surf Shop has been the go-to spot for surf gear.

As the largest surfing shop in the world, the Cocoa Beach location is also home to the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum, which highlights the surf culture of the East Coast. 

Eleven-time World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater grew up in Cocoa Beach, and a statue of the legendary surfer is only two-and-a-half miles from the surf shop. In case you’re not into surfing, don’t worry. You can find lots of outdoor gear for body boarding or skateboarding, apparel, and souvenirs to take home with you. 

Ron John Surf Shop is a family-friendly store with a vibrant and passionate energy from its staff. Everyone there has surf stories to share or recommendations to check out on your stay in town. Don’t miss the chance to experience a bit of surf history right here in Cocoa Beach.

Surfing, Kayaking, Paddling and More Watersports

Wherever your trip takes you in Cocoa Beach, chances are there are many opportunities to enjoy water activities and ocean adventures. This area is one of the best surfing spots along the eastern coast of Florida. If you’ve never surfed before, take a surf lesson from one of the many surf schools by renowned and experienced surf instructors. 

For a more relaxing experience on the water, couples can join a bioluminescence kayaking tour or spend a calming day standup paddle boarding at different spots around town, like Lori Wilson Park or along the Banana River Lagoon. If you’re new to the area or this is your first time visiting, we recommend going with a guide who can help you navigate the waterways in the lagoon. 

Cocoa Beach is also a promising spot for fishing. Each season brings different fish to the area. Try your luck catching marlin, bass, and amberjack during summer, while winter months see a spike in striped bass, tuna, and snapper. 

Go on an Eco Wildlife Cruise To See Manatee 

Cocoa Beach is full of natural coastlines, habitats, and ecosystems unique to the eastern Florida coast. To experience the full scope of the area, take an Eco Wildlife Cruise through the Thousand Island nature preserve and Banana River Lagoon. 

Tours are about two hours long and take passengers on a slow ride down waterways and along islands. You may want to bring a pair of binoculars with you to see the rich, beautiful vegetation and spot the different kinds of wildlife living in the canals. From birds to manatees to dolphins, there’s no telling what you might see. 

Take a Sunset Cruise 

What better way to end a day in Cocoa Beach than a sunset cruise on the Atlantic Ocean? There are many sunset tours and private charters that will take you out on the water as the sun dips below the horizon. As you cruise through the waters, sipping on a cocktail, keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees drifting alongside the catamaran. 

The best time of year to experience sunsets along the eastern coast of Florida is from October through May. With cooler weather, snuggle under a blanket with your sweetheart for a romantic evening drifting along the water. 

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Zaida Marston