photo of Cocoa Beach

A overlook at Cocoa Beach, Florida. (Photographer's Choice/James Randklev)

What to do in Cocoa Beach

Every winter, Cocoa Beach's population of 13,000 swells to nearly 30,000. It's easy to see why this classic Florida beach town has become such a popular vacation spot on the state's east-central coast: Cocoa Beach is family-friendly, affordable (most of the area's 2,400 hotel rooms have reasonable rates), and steeped in Space Coast lore. The sixties sitcom I Dream of Jeannie was set here, and with the Kennedy Space Center just 15 miles to the north, visitors can watch dramatic launches right from the town beach.

As dimensions go, Cocoa Beach comes in on the small side—six miles long, less than a mile wide—but it still packs a sandy wallop. The town is located on an offshore barrier island south of the city of Cape Canaveral and has four well-maintained beach parks, the largest of which is Lori Wilson Park (32.5 acres). For those sun lovers who are used to the busy, elbow-to-elbow stretches of sand in other parts of the state, Cocoa Beach's uncrowded shoreline will be a welcome respite. There's plenty of room to throw down your towel, not to mention miles of other undeveloped beaches up and down the Space Coast. If you like some man-made thrills with your solitude? Orlando's theme parks are about an hour's drive to the west.

Cocoa Beach has as much to offer offshore as it does on. There's first-rate surfing (it's considered the surf capital of Florida), numerous kayak wildlife tours, and excellent deep-sea fishing year-round. The town has also become a popular vacation add-on to the growing number of cruises out of nearby Port Canaveral (where Disney Cruise Line, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean are all based). No matter how you work Cocoa Beach into your vacation, be sure to spend at least one sunset on the town's historic pier. Gazing out over the spacious beaches and wide Atlantic, it's hard to imagine a more perfect setting from which to send men to the moon.

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