Cocoa Beach is known for some great activities, surfing, fishing, and boating to name a few. Something you might not be aware of, some of the best kayaking can be found in Cocoa Beach thanks to the city’s western boundary, the Banana River. If you have the good fortune to live on either a canal or on the river, you have pretty easy access to our waterways and mangrove islands. If you are visiting or live on a dry lot, you still have plenty of access to this fantastic resource. Since I have kayaks, that is my mindset and point of reference throughout this post. Of course, you can also use a canoe or stand up paddleboard/SUP from any of these locations.
From the north end of town south, here are some great spots to launch your kayak from.
SR528 just west of Port Canaveral.
As you are leaving the beaches, passing Port Canaveral and going over the 401, get in the far right land and pull over before you get to Merritt Island. The closer to the Canaveral Locks the better. You will have open parking along the river & 528. The water’s edge is mostly sand (even though there are some rocks in the water). When you launch, head north! You can enjoy a close up look at the Canaveral Locks and some derelict abandoned boats (the unfortunate consequence of recent storms) Depending on the tides, you could have 20+ islands to paddle around and explore. Most of the islands we stopped at were solid land (ok, sandy land) that are good stopping spots to stretch the legs, do some fishing or have a picnic. This small chain of islands leads towards the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Canaveral Air Force Station & the Space Center. It’s probably best not to try and access the Air Force Station or the Space Center.
Banana River Park Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral has a great park located at 901 Puerto Del Rio Drive for kayaking. They offer two launch spots and access to the Banana River. You have mangroves to explore north of the park where 528 becomes A1A again. You can also paddle along 528 to explore the pylons under the bridge and over to the north side to head towards the 20+ islands that lead towards Merritt Island Wildlife refuge and KSC. What’s great about this park is they do not allow motor craft, so boat traffic should be lighter than other areas on the water. Banana River Park also has restrooms and a picnic area to use before & after your kayaking trip.
Constitution Bicentennial Park Cocoa Beach
Located at 501 West Cocoa Beach Causeway (aka 520) offers a boat ramp and is an amazing spot if you are a fan of kite surfing. This is a pretty active ramp for boats too. I certainly prefer an area with a little less boat traffic BUT this location does offer pretty easy access to the chain of mangrove islands in this section of Cocoa Beach. The first island you can see looking south across the channel is Shell Point and this island offers a labyrinth in the mangroves for you to explore for hours. The east side of this mangrove island offers views of some beautiful homes in Cocoa Beach along the river. The smaller mangrove island to the west is Big Island and it appears to have some solid ground that should allow a place to land your kayak to stretch, explore, and have a picnic. Constitution Bicentennial Park is definitely better suited for a motorboat and is utilized by our area kite surfing community, but is still a good spot for kayaking. They do offer restrooms (port-o-potties) and a picnic area at the park. Even though this is in the city limits of Cocoa Beach, the city does not maintain it.
Holiday Lane Ramp
This ramp has been here for a long time. We moved here in the early 80’s and I remember the ramp being here behind the Boeing building, which is now home to the Cocoa Beach Health & Fitness center. The owners of the land are gracious enough to allow access to this ramp and there is limited parking available to this hidden gem. The ramp and parking are the only facilities here, so leave only your footprints. If you love paddling along the canals and river to look at the homes and boats, this is a great spot to launch from. You also have all the mangrove islands to explore. We recently launched from here and paddled south and west along the small chain of islands that run along the Houseboat Cut channel. We let the current and breezes set the pace with very little paddling going out. This allowed us to watch the osprey find and enjoy some breakfast, the pelicans gliding just above the water, along with the occasional stingray and horseshoe crab going by under the yaks. Even though dolphin and manatee are regularly seen in the water, we only saw a couple of dolphins off in the distance and did not come across any manatee.
At the end of the small mangrove islands along Houseboat Cut, we had a choice. Either head south towards Minutemen Causeway to head around to the country club or back to Holiday Lane OR head north to explore the mangrove island chain that will eventually lead us to Shell Point closer to 520. We opted to head north across the channel, and into the wind to explore the perimeter of this mangrove island. We were hoping to find a sandy spot along the island to land the boats for our lunch break and ended up settling for a quiet shallow spot on the west side of a mangrove island.
Cocoa Beach Aquatic Center
The city of Cocoa Beach has some amazing resources for us to enjoy. The west end of Minutemen Causeway has the Cocoa Beach Country Club with 27 holes of golf, the Racquet Club of Cocoa Beach for tennis and the Aquatic Center with a heated 50-meter pool, waterslide & spray park. To the east of the Aquatic Center is a great spot to launch your kayaks to explore the Banana River. You can head east along the baseball fields & skate park and explore the mangrove islands and canals along Minutemen Causeway and 4th St south or you can paddle west around the golf course to the north side of Minutemen Causeway to view some amazing homes and access the mangrove islands to the north.
Ramp Road Park
The city of Cocoa Beach has 20 parks and Ramp Road has something for everyone. There is a playground for the kiddos to enjoy. They have a tennis court. They have horseshoe pits. There are restrooms and picnic areas. There is a fishing dock. They have a ramp to launch your boat from and they have two spots to launch your kayaks from. Once in the water, you have a lot to explore here. You can go along the channel and around the mangrove islands. You can explore the canals and see the homes along 4th St south. You can continue west towards the high school and Cocoa Beach Country Club. You can head south and see the homes and condos along the river. Since you are on a kayak, you also have the mangrove tunnels to explore.
The mangrove tunnel entrance is due west of the boat ramp and it is a labyrinth. You have decisions every couple hundred feet as to what direction you would like to go. Parts of the mangrove tunnels are shady. Parts of the mangrove tunnels open up to a private lagoon. Parts of the mangrove tunnels are so tight, you cannot paddle and you have to pull yourself along by the branches overhead. Make certain you have your phone handy just in case you get turned around and cannot find your way out (Google maps will help you get out!)
Whether you live in Cocoa Beach, somewhere nearby, or are simply visiting the Space Coast; kayaking is something I recommend to everyone to try. If you do not have a kayak, there are several places you can rent them from and get tours around the mangrove islands.
Buying a kayak is fairly inexpensive and are available at WalMart, West Marine, Ron Jons, and the Cocoa Beach Surf Company to name a few places. You will need to decide if you want a sit-on-top kayak, a sit-inside kayak, a fishing kayak, a peddle kayak, or inflatable kayak. You will need to figure out how to transport your kayak (I have a truck, so it’s easy!) I see a lot of roof racks on cars for kayaks and see the occasional light trailer being towed behind cars too.
I cannot recommend kayaking enough. It is a fun day on the water, getting some exercise & sunshine as well as seeing some Florida wildlife in their natural habitat. Besides these great spots in Cocoa Beach, there are great spots to kayak throughout Brevard County, central Florida and the entire state! We have launched in Satellite Beach from the Pineda Causeway. We have launched from Kiwanis Island in Merritt Island. We have traveled south to the Sebastian Inlet. We have traveled 90 minutes away to Kings Landing too. Here is a post on Kayaking in Melbourne along the Crane Creek https://cocoabeachinsider.com/2018/04/12/another-great-kayaking-spot-near-cocoa-beach
If you have a favorite spot to go kayaking, paddle boarding, or canoeing; I would love to hear from you! Comment on the post or send me a text message 321.795.1854
About the author:
Eric Larkin is a Broker Associate with REMAX Aerospace. He lives, works, and plays in the Cocoa Beach area. If you have questions about moving or relocating to Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast, let me know! I get calls, texts, direct messages & comments on my posts every day about the real estate market and things that are happening in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast that I love answering. Ask me your questions on moving, relocating here, or anything about the community. I am here to help. I have been helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs since becoming a real estate agent in 2003. My focus is always on helping, answering your questions, and doing everything possible to make certain you have a smooth transaction from beginning to end.
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