Cocoa Beach is a great place to vacation. It lies along the eastern coast of Florida, about halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, and it has a vibrant surf scene. With fun family activities and great restaurants, you’re sure to find lots to entertain everyone in your party.
But let’s face it – you’ve probably come to Florida for the weather, the sunshine, and the beautiful ocean! So if you’re looking to get out into the water, here are some of the best water sports and activities to enjoy on your Cocoa Beach vacation.
Surfing has to be the #1 sport in Cocoa Beach! After all, it’s famous as being the home of champion surfer Kelly Slater, as well as the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop!
Cocoa Beach features decent-sized waves that are easy enough for beginners, but still offer challenges and excitement for surfing veterans. And the warm Gulf Stream waters can be enjoyed year-round.
The community is tight-knit yet open, and there are lots of great places to surf. The most obvious, though the most crowded, is of course the Cocoa Beach Pier. Here you will find locals and tourists all lining up to catch a wave. But as you head south, you’ll find plenty of other beaches for surfing as well, such as at Lori Wilson Park. The beaches along Patrick Space Force Base are excellent and a short 10-15 minute drive south of Cocoa Beach. Go a bit further and you’ll find Satellite Beach and then Melbourne Beach, all with prime surf spots.
If you’re just learning to surf, then lessons might be in order. There are several companies that offer them, including Cocoa Beach Surf School, Ron Jon Surf School, and School of Surf. If you’re coming from out of state or out of country, and can’t bring your own board, then you can rent one from Cocoa Beach Surf Company, A1A Outdoors, and Oceansports World.
Kayaking is another fun watersport and there are tons of places to kayak in, or near, Cocoa Beach. Bring your kayak or rent them locally, and try kayaking the ocean or the intracoastal waterway – known as the Banana and Indian Rivers here in Brevard County – or in the marshes and waterways that make up the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to the north of Cocoa Beach.
Looking for something unique? How about a bioluminescence kayak tour?! Between July and October each year, dinoflagellates in the waters of the Indian and Banana Rivers glow whenever the water is disturbed. Our local comb jellyfish do as well (plus, they don’t sting!). Some places even offer clear kayaks, so you can see the bio through your boat.
Try to plan for these tours when there is little or no moonlight, so the contrast between the glowing creatures and the ambient light is greater.
Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Stand-up paddleboarding has become all the rage over the last decade. It’s easier than surfing, but not exactly easy to do! And it’s a great workout.
A paddleboard looks like a long surfboard, and can be used in the ocean or the intracoastal, or really just about anywhere. If you’re just starting out, you may want to kneel on the board (and stay in still waters) while you get the hang of it. Later on you cna graduate to standing, and then venture out among the ocean waves, too!
Windsurfing is another popular water sport in Cocoa Beach, especially along the “beachline”, highway 528, between Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach. (Don’t be surprised if you hear locals call it the “beeline”, the highway’s old name. We’re nostalgic!)
Windsurfing involves a sail, similar to one on a sailboat, that’s attached to a special surfboard. Rather than having ocean waves propel you forward, the motion is powered by the wind. This is another great workout in disguise – your arms and shoulders are sure to be tired after a fun day windsurfing!
For lessons and rentals, visit Calema Watersports. They also offering sailing!
Would you prefer to be high over the water, rather than in it? If you’re not afraid of heights, then parasailing is for you!
Parasailing involves getting strapped into this contraption with a parachute attached, then pulled along behind a boat. As the boat accelerates, you’re lifted higher and higher. The views are unmatched! You can even parasail in tandem, so you can enjoy the experience with a friend or loved one.
If parasailing in Cocoa Beach sounds like fun, contact Cocoa Beach Parasail. They’re located in nearby Cape Canaveral.
Deep Sea Fishing
Deep sea fishing is a popular sport, not to mention a great way to catch your dinner! Cocoa Beach’s location on the coast and proximity to the Gulf Stream means there are ample opportunities for deep sea fishing.
Fishing is plentiful year round, and you may catch species such as mackerel, amberjack mahi mahi (dolphin), grouper, cobia, snapper, bonita, cobia (my favorite!), jack, sailfish, or even a shark!
Or, if you prefer, there’s inshore fishing too, where you might catch redfish, trout, snook, tarpon, and black drum.
If you want an experience unique to Florida, then you need to take an airboat ride. I left this for last since it’s not really in Cocoa Beach, but it’s not far either.
If you’re not familiar with airboats, these are a sight to see. Imagine a skiff or small fishing boat with a GIANT fan behind it! The fan propels the boat at high speeds, through tidal creeks and around tight turns. It’s a great way to get out in nature, and to have some adventure too. Different companies have various approaches; I’ve done airboat ride that were all about the speed and thrill, and others that focused more on wildlife and signtseeing.
Most airboat rides are done in marshland, so you won’t find them in Cocoa Beach, but a quick trip west of Cocoa (a distinct town from Cocoa Beach) will take you to the waters around the St. John’s River. While on your trip you’ll likely see alligators and turtles, wading birds like egrets and herons, and water-based insects such as dragonflies. The marsh is actually very beautiful, and if you’ve never spent time in it, I highly encourage it.
As you can see, there are tons of options for spending your vacation time on, in, or above the central Florida waters when you visit Cocoa Beach. From the fast and thrilling to the slow and easy, you’re sure to find an enjoyable outing no matter what your preferences are! Cocoa Beach is a wonderful place in Florida to visit, or to live!