Welcome to Cocoa Beach Florida, USA! Stretching across 72 miles of pristine shoreline offers more than just beautiful beaches. From historic villages and playhouses to museums celebrating its rich history, the town presents a diverse array of attractions. In this article, we explore the vibrant and historic Cocoa Beach, nestled just an hour away from Orlando’s theme parks and attractions.
History, Population, and Location
Set against the backdrop of the Atlantic coast, Cocoa Beach is an authentic East Coast Florida beach town with roots dating back to 1880, when newly freed slaves established the first non-native settlement in the area. As we delve into the history, the community as we know it today began shaping up in the 1920s, spurred by the rise of America’s space program in the mid-20th century. Cocoa Beach experienced tremendous growth, with young families flocking to the area. As a quick overview, Cocoa Beach boasts a population of around 12,000 and is conveniently situated approximately one hour and twenty minutes from Daytona Beach and just an hour from Orlando.
How Far is Cocoa Beach from Orlando
Cocoa Beach is approximately 60 miles east of Orlando, making it an easy drive for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The drive from Orlando to Cocoa Beach typically takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic conditions and the specific locations within each city.
Cocoa Beach Florida Map
Closest Beach to Orlando
Among the options available, Cocoa Beach emerges as the closest beach to Orlando. Cocoa Beach’s proximity to Orlando makes it a convenient choice for a day trip or weekend escape. Cocoa Beach stands out as Orlando’s closest beach, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, recreational activities, and unique attractions.
Cocoa Beach Weather
Cocoa Beach experiences a classic Florida climate characterized by warm temperatures, abundant sunshine, and occasional rain showers. Understanding the different seasons can help you tailor your visit to your preferred weather conditions.
Summer (June to August)
- Temperature: Summer brings warmth to Cocoa Beach, with daytime temperatures ranging from 80°F to 90°F (27°C to 32°C).
- Weather: Expect plenty of sunshine and occasional afternoon thunderstorms. Humidity levels are higher during this season.
Fall (September to November)
- Temperature: Fall sees a gradual decrease in temperatures, ranging from 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C).
- Weather: The humidity begins to subside, and rainfall decreases. Fall is considered a pleasant time to visit, with warm days and cooler evenings.
Winter (December to February)
- Temperature: Winter in Cocoa Beach is mild, with daytime temperatures averaging between 60°F and 75°F (16°C to 24°C).
- Weather: While cooler than other seasons, winter still offers plenty of sunny days. Light layers are recommended for evenings.
Spring (March to May)
- Temperature: Spring brings a gradual warming, with daytime temperatures ranging from 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C).
- Weather: This season is marked by blooming flowers and a return to higher humidity. It’s a popular time for outdoor activities.
Things to Do in Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is a vibrant destination offering a myriad of activities for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a sunseeker, an adventure enthusiast, or a history buff, Cocoa Beach has something special for you. Let’s dive into the top things to do in Cocoa Beach for an unforgettable coastal experience.
Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center located on the remote Merritt Island north of Cocoa Beach, the Kennedy Space Center stands as a testament to America’s space exploration history. Home to historic rockets, space memorabilia, and even astronaut encounters, the center provides an immersive experience of space exploration.
The first reason people love Cocoa Beach is the proximity to the Kennedy Space Center. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex narrates the captivating story of human exploration into space, from the first American orbits to moon landings, making it a compelling destination. The town even celebrated astronauts’ returns with parades, solidifying its identity as the surfing capital of the East Coast, proudly embracing the American surfer lifestyle. For space enthusiasts, the Kennedy Space Center offers a front-row seat to rocket launches.
Cocoa Beach’s Beaches
Cocoa Beach’s beaches are a major draw, offering 72 miles of pristine shoreline. Whether you seek relaxation or the thrill of water activities like surfing, Cocoa Beach provides some of the best waves on the East Coast.
Historic Cocoa Village
Founded in the 19th century, historic Cocoa Village has transformed into a tourist hotspot with local shops, restaurants, and attractions like the Florida Historical Society and the Library of Florida History. Historic Cocoa Village offers a charming blend of shopping, entertainment, and a genuinely historic ambiance. It has evolved into a 21st-century tourist attraction while retaining its colorful, old-time village charm.
Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse
Originally the Aladdin Theater in 1924, the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse has become a cultural hub, earning the nickname “Broadway on Brevard.” With regular Broadway musicals, concerts, children’s shows, and movies, it attracts over 55,000 visitors annually.
Explore the diverse sections of the Brevard Zoo, from Paws on Play to Expedition Africa. The nearby Museum of History and Natural Science offers exhibits on the Windover Woman, Native Americans, pioneers, and early railroads.
Just a 25-minute drive from the beach, the Brevard Zoo offers educational experiences, interactive learning, and family fun. From creepy crawly critters to Florida’s native animals and the wilds of Africa, the zoo caters to diverse interests.
Cocoa Beach Pier
No visit to Cocoa Beach is complete without a stroll along the legendary Cocoa Beach Pier. Stretching 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Cocoa Pier, originally constructed in the early 1960s, is a family-friendly destination drawing over a million visitors annually. This old-fashioned wooden structure spans 800 yards over the water, featuring restaurants, unique shops, souvenirs, and live performances. It boasts four restaurants, five tropical bars, and numerous gift shops, making it a must-visit location along Cocoa Beach.
Twister Airboat Rides
For a thrilling adventure, try Twister Airboat Rides at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp. Navigate the St. Johns River and Lake Poinsett, getting an intimate look at the diverse ecosystem, including alligators, bald eagles, and wading birds. Enjoy a fishing adventure with Fin and Fly Fishing Charters, explore nature with Wildside Tours, or go kayaking to encounter manatees with Cocoa Beach Kayaking Tour.
Cocoa Beach Park
Cocoa Beach State Park
For a mix of relaxation and adrenaline, Cocoa Beach State Park offers bowls and a half-pipe for skating enthusiasts, providing an ideal spot for both thrill-seekers and spectators.
Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park
Situated on 16th Street South, this memorial park’s white sand beaches attract surfers, families, tourists, and locals alike. With a planked boardwalk shaded by trees, it offers a unique ambiance.
Lori Wilson Park
This 20-acre park with calm waters, a scenic trail, a boardwalk, and various amenities provides an affordable and family-friendly environment, making it one of Cocoa Beach’s popular spots. The Lori Wilson Park provides spectacular views, while the visitor complex showcases cutting-edge technology from NASA and its commercial partners.
Alan Shepard Park
Enjoy a beach day at Alan Shepard Park, offering amenities like picnic areas, changing rooms, and proximity to restaurants and shopping centers.
Part of the Canaveral National Seashore reserve, Playalinda Beach provides a peaceful escape with its 24-mile stretch of sand, dunes, marshes, and lagoons.
2nd Light Beach
Named after its location by the second traffic light on the south route, 2nd Light Beach is a popular surfing spot with great waves and a relaxing atmosphere.
Port Canaveral Space Coast Segway Tours
Embark on a cruise adventure from Port Canaveral, taking in the sights on a Segway tour with views of Ron Jon Cape Caribe, ship launches, and the possibility of spotting manatees.
Canaveral Exploration Tower & Lighthouse
Discover the 7-story Exploration Tower’s interactive exhibits and observation decks, offering panoramic views of the Kennedy Space Center. Explore the historic 151-foot-tall lighthouse and its scenic surroundings.
Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures
Delve into history at the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures, featuring a Dinosaur Store, a section with real fossils, and an Ancient Cultures exhibit showcasing artifacts from Egypt, China, and Africa.
Manatees on Kayaking Tours
Embark on a kayaking tour with Cocoa Beach Kayaking to get up close and personal with Florida’s beloved sea cows, the manatees. Glide through the beautiful Thousand Islands or the Indian River Lagoon and encounter not only manatees but also dolphins, migratory birds, and other wildlife.
Cocoa Beach offers exceptional fishing opportunities, with Fin and Fly Fishing Charters specializing in sport fishing for various species. The waters near Cocoa Beach are known for their enormous fish, and charter crews provide all the necessary equipment.
Ron Jon’s Surf Shop
Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf retail destination, offers a vast selection of surfing essentials. Ron Jon’s Surf Shop is a hub for surfing and water sports enthusiasts. Boasting 52,000 square feet of water sports goodies, it’s a must-visit for those passionate about the beach lifestyle.
The waters around Cocoa Beach Pier have long been a hub for Central Florida surfing. Surf lessons are readily available, catering to all skill levels with experienced instructors guiding enthusiasts through water safety and basic board skills.
Cocoa Beach Surf Report
To make the most of your surf session, staying informed about the current surf conditions is crucial. In this surf report, we’ll delve into the key factors that shape Cocoa Beach’s surf, ensuring you’re well-prepared for an exciting day on the water.
Swell Size: Cocoa Beach typically experiences a moderate swell size, ranging from 2 to 4 feet on average. However, larger swells are not uncommon, especially during peak surf seasons.
Swell Direction: The predominant swell direction in Cocoa Beach is from the east to southeast, courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean. This direction ensures consistent and rideable waves along the coastline.
Wave Quality: Cocoa Beach offers a mix of wave types, from mellow and rolling waves suitable for beginners to more powerful, hollow waves that challenge experienced surfers. The wave quality can vary based on tide, wind, and swell conditions.
Best Surfing Conditions: The optimal surfing conditions in Cocoa Beach often coincide with an incoming tide, moderate offshore winds, and a well-aligned swell. Mornings tend to provide cleaner and more organized waves, offering an ideal window for surfing.
Wind Conditions: Offshore winds, blowing from the land toward the ocean, contribute to clean and well-formed waves. Onshore winds, from the ocean toward the land, can create choppy and less rideable conditions.
Tide Levels: Tide levels significantly impact the surf at Cocoa Beach. Mid to high tide often results in better wave quality, providing longer rides and more consistent sets.
Swell Period: A longer swell period generally leads to more powerful and well-defined waves. Keep an eye on the swell period to gauge the potential quality of the surf.
Boat Tours and Wildlife Sanctuary
Discover the beauty of the area through boat tours, airboat rides, and visits to the Ullamay Wildlife Sanctuary. This hidden gem covers over 430 acres, known for its bird rookery and various outdoor activities, providing a peaceful escape.
Downtown Cocoa Beach
Venture into downtown Cocoa Beach, where a statue of local surfing legend Kelly Slater welcomes visitors. This vibrant area is filled with boutiques, restaurants, and bars, adorned with colorful murals depicting the laid-back lifestyle synonymous with this community.
Cocoa Beach Spa: Relax at Cocoa Beach Spa, offering vintage beach house aesthetics and top-notch services.
Golf Courses: Golfing enthusiasts will appreciate Cocoa Beach’s numerous top-notch golf courses. With natural beauty, challenging holes, and sunny weather, golf is a popular activity in the area.
Escape Cocoa Beach, and Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures: Challenge your mind at Escape Cocoa Beach’s themed escape rooms or opt for an adrenaline-pumping experience at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures.
Oz Museum: Explore the Wizard of Oz Museum in Cape Canaveral, offering an immersive experience of the beloved fairy tale.
321 Kiteboarding and Watersports: Freshen up your kitesurfing and surfing skills or rent gear for paddleboarding and kayaking at 321 Kiteboarding and Watersports.
Elevator Ride: Elevate your experience at Port Canaveral by taking an elevator ride to the top of the Exploration Tower for breathtaking views of cruise ships.
Fat Kahuna’s Beach Side Grille and Coconuts on the Beach: Indulge in seafood dishes and ocean views at Fat Kahuna’s Beach Side Grille, and savor the charm of Coconuts on the Beach with its delightful menu and beachside ambiance.
These are just some of the many reasons people love Cocoa Beach. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or cultural experiences, Cocoa Beach, Florida, has it all. If you have your reasons, feel free to share them in the comments. We hope you enjoyed this article. You can explore Florida at Key Largo & Key West: Discovering Florida’s Best 1-Kept Secrets Paradise, Things to Do in Key Largo: Unlocking the Secrets of the Florida Keys, Things To Do In Key West: Crack the Island’s Code with These Ultimate Things to Do, and Clearwater Beach Uncovered: Top Attractions, Activities, and Hidden Gems Revealed