Space Coast Boasts Some of the Best Beaches on the East Coast



With beaches like these, who needs anything else? 

The Space Coast, Florida, is home to some of the state's best beaches. In fact, Cocoa Beach was named one of the state's top 10 beaches, with more than 70 miles of sand. The Space Coast waves are renowned for excellent surfing (but be careful of the sharks). Satellite Beach is a well known surfing destination, and the home to a handful of famous surfers. For more privacy on your waves, try the Playalinda Beach in the Canaveral National Seashore. But before you head out toward parking lot 13, know that this pocket of beach attracts nudists. 

Beyond surfing and sand-castle-building, you can explore nature and wildlife at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Or for another perspective of the ocean, go deep-sea fishing at Port Canaveral, a busy cruise ship port. 

Traveling with pets? Canova Beach is Brevard County's only dog-friendly beach (but your furry friends must remain on leash). Traveling with kids? We love the Millennium Park at the Indian Harbour Beach, with its large wooden playground, and Jetty Park is a clean, family-friendly beach with great camping – even with RV hook-ups, laundry facilities, hot showers, toilets and more. So you can get out in nature, but not sacrifice your family's comfort. 



10
Playalinda Beach
Photo courtesy of Flickr user brownpau


 

Playalinda Beach, in Titusville, is housed within a natural reserve, the Canaveral National Seashore. It is also known for its private, nude beach (around parking lot 13, the farthest pier). The people here tend to keep to themselves, so don't worry if that's not your thing. Enjoy 24 miles of protected coastline, including four miles of drivable beach, for a scenic driving tour of the area. Playalinda is a quiet beach, a hidden gem among local surfers, located on a thin barrier island also on the Indian River. The sand is rarely busy. Pack flip-flops because some patches of sand are a bit rough with seashells – but shell collectors and kids can find plenty of treasures here. Along with the undeveloped beauty of Playalinda, there are also not many amenities. Parking is limited, so prepare to walk. Park accordingly.


9
Port Canaveral
Port Canaveral
Photo courtesy of Flickr user tomsaint


 

Port Canaveral is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. Even though millions of cruise passengers pass through her every year, the atmosphere remains relaxed. Located off A1A in Cape Canaveral, Port Canaveral serves as an industrial, commercial and luxury transportation hub by connecting land, sea, air and space travel. In addition to its daily import/export schedule, seven of the finest cruise terminals in the world are located here. Deep sea fishing and boat rental are also available. The Cove at Port Canaveral is a waterfront recreational area that's home to several restaurants, shops, charter boats and attractions.


8
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Photo courtesy of Flickr user cyanocorax


 

The refuge is 140,000 acres (or 22 square miles) of wetlands inhabited by more than 1,500 types of plants and animals, including more than 300 species of birds, ghost crabs, loggerhead and green sea turtles, reptiles, raccoons and bobcats. NASA owns and maintains this treasure and offers the public many ways to experience it. Join in a guided tour or explore four different hiking trails that range from 0.25 mile to five miles long. Boating, canoeing, a manatee observation deck (with informational panels about this endangered species), coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries, fishing and nature photography make this a complete wildlife experience.


7
Canova Beach
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ricardo Mangual


 

Canova Beach Park is a 9-acre beach park that is best known for attracting four-legged surfers. Canova is Brevard County's only dog-friendly beach. This small but sweet stretch of beach always seems to be full of dogs catching balls on the sand and catching waves in the Atlantic. Bring your pups with their current license and vaccinations, a leash and some waste bags; the beach enforces rules to keep this beach clean and safe. You do need to keep your pets on leash, so they can't run freely without you. After splashing in the waves, grill dinner, eat under the pavilion, relax on a bench and watch your furry babies enjoy the Florida sunshine. Take advantage of the outdoor shower area, where you can rinse the salt water off your dog.


6
Melbourne Beach
Melbourne Beach
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ricardo Mangual


 

Melbourne Beach stretches across 33 miles of gorgeous, undeveloped sand, perfect for a walk walks or a jog along the water. The waves here offer nice surfing and snorkeling, and the bars regularly bounce with live music. Melbourne is a family-friendly community, with plenty of great shopping (check out Strawbridge and New Haven avenues), delicious local restaurants, high-quality theater performances and quirky art. You can often find street parties, vendor booths, bands and festivals, including the world-famous Melbourne Art Festival, the Independent Filmmaker's Festival, Aviation Day and annual Oktoberfest. This makes Melbourne Beach more than just soft sand and waves; it's an exciting destination for outdoor entertainment, too. Nearby, go golfing, fishing, boating camping and more.


5
Satellite Beach
Satellite Beach
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ricardo Mangual


 

Satellite Beach is perhaps most known for its surfing, in particular the north dune crossover, where several of the most famous surfers have learned how to surf. Satellite Beach's sand is not known for its peaceful privacy, but it's still laid back and a great place to meet friendly locals. One of the most popular parks at Satellite Beach is the recently renovated Pelican Beach Park. This stretch of beach offers weekly sea turtle "talks 'n' walks," where you can learn all about sea turtles. Satellite Beach is especially family-friendly, and even pet-friendly. If you are traveling with Fido, swing by the Satellite Beach dog park. It's also a great stopping point along A1A, which winds through some of the Space Coast's best beach towns.


4
Indian Harbour Beach
Photo courtesy of Flickr user jared422


 

Indian Harbour Beach is a small beachside community – only two square miles big – between the ocean and the Indian River Lagoon. Although primarily residential, it's worth a visit to walk through the 27-acre Gleason Park or have a picnic at one of Indian Harbor's beachside parks. Indian Harbour Beach has four community parks: Bicentennial Park and Millennium Park are both on the beach. At Bicentennial Park, go surfing, stretch out in the sun, build a sand castle, walk out on the boardwalk and get shade underneath a picnic table pavilion. Millennium Park is another great place for a picnic, a stroll along the beach and great views of the ocean.


3
Canaveral National Seashore


 

Located midway down the Florida east coast between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, the 24 miles of park is home to over 1,000 species of plants and 300 species of birds, including 14 threatened or endangered species. Sea turtles nest here. This is Florida, in nature. Wild and untouched. Visitors enjoy camping (with permit), ocean beaches, surfing, fishing, boating and hunting. Rangers facilitate programs year-round on such topics as canoeing and sea turtle nesting. Take a self-guided tour along Black Point Wildlife Drive, through the marsh. Restrooms and a small bookstore also available, but don't expect picnic benches, phones, drinking fountains or stores. This is an escape from all of that.


2
Jetty Park Beach and Campground
Photo courtesy of Bradley Buhro


 

Jetty Park is one of the Space Coast's best beaches, and a great place to go camping and fishing, too. With many campsites (for different types of camping, from rugged to RV), picnic tables, laundry facilities, hot showers and toilets, electric hook-ups, a playground, a small beach bar and a small shop, Jetty Park is an outdoor adventure destination – the perfect vacation within a vacation, if you're looking for a relaxing experience in Florida's natural habitat. The beach here is pristine, accented by the Jetty Park pier – a fishing hub. This is an ideal area for families, because it even offers security and lifeguards at the beach. The water is calmer than some of the other Space Coast beaches, so children enjoy playing here. Watch for dolphins and manatees.


1
Cocoa Beach
Photo courtesy of Photo by Flickr user Bryan Shrode


 

The Space Coast boasts more than 70 miles of sand – most of which are free and open to the public. Build a sand castle, cool off in the waves and enjoy the sunshine, all without needing to drop a penny. Toss out a fishing line and maybe you can even catch dinner for free. One of the area's best beaches is Cocoa Beach; it was even voted one of the top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida by USA Today. But beware: It can get excruciatingly hot and humid, so it's best to do your beaching early morning or late afternoon.


Map

Meet Aimee Heckel

Aimee Heckel’s passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the...  More About Aimee

×