Port Canaveral Beaches – A Guide for Cruisers

Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach Beaches – A Guide for Cruisers and Visitors

If you are looking for a beach you came to the right place! You have beach all the way from Port Canaveral down to Miami and beyond. Near the Port, we suggest you visit one of four beach areas depending on your interests and budget. While it is tempting to swim anywhere, please consider this tip from us:

TIP – even when the waves do not look that big, the ocean here is deceiving with dangerous rip currents and the (very) rare shark attack. For these reason I suggest you ALWAYS swim near a lifeguard station. You also want restrooms and on-site beach toy rentals! And lifeguards will warn visitors when painful man ‘o war are present (see picture)

big man o' war next to a size 11.5 foot
big man o’ war next to a size 11.5 foot

 

TIP – Upon arrival at Port Canaveral, all cruisers should use their smart phones or tablets to browse to our LIVE Google map. There are no apps to install. Your position will be shown on our map in relation to the beaches mentioned here. With our map you cannot get lost and you do not have to be worried about making your way around the area.

There are four year round lifeguard towers near Port Canaveral as shown on our map:

  • Jetty Park – closest to the cruise ships with a shop/cafe/beach rentals/restrooms. The cafe opening times vary during the year.
  • Cocoa Beach Pier – the busiest beach with everything you need nearby as well as bars, restaurants and shops
  • Alan Shepard Park – popular with cruise ship shore excursions and always busy when the ships are in. Ron Jon surf shop, bars, restaurants, beach rentals and restrooms
  • Lori Wilson Park – fewest people and the furthest away from the port therefor not for everyone. Restrooms and rentals but no restaurants or bars nearby except at the Hilton and International Palms

Getting to the Beaches from the Port, and Back

Your options depend on your cruise terminal.

If you dock at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3:

  • You can walk to Jetty Park Beach. The beach is 1.5 miles from Terminal 1 and 0.5 miles from Terminal 3 and the walk is clearly marked in green on our map. You will walk on a wide side-walk shared with cyclists. It is flat, safe and easy walking.
  • You can take the SCAT bus ($1.50 per person each way) to Cocoa Beach Pier Beach, Alan Shepard Park Beach and Lori Wilson Park Beach. We show you exactly how to use the SCAT bus in another section – Using the SCAT Bus.

Options from any Terminal:

a] Cruise line Shore Excursions to the Beach

  • Travel time – It takes about 15-20 minutes from the Port to Alan Shepard Park or the Sheraton Four Points Hotel from where it is a very short walk to the beach (east) and the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop (south).
  • Frequency – The buses run every 30 minutes or so and the last shuttle is usually 3 hours prior to ship sailing time from both pick up and drop off location.
  • Costs – Average $15 to $19 per adult for the round-trip usually including 15% shopping discount vouchers but this depends on the cruise line.
  • Description – This is a cruise line bus service running continually throughout the day during your cruise ship visit. You will travel to Alan Shepard Park in a large air-conditioned bus or smaller vans.
  • Negatives – While convenient, it can get expensive if you have more than 2 people in your group. UberX will cost between $25 and $35 per car round-trip (maximum 4 adults). Also, you do not get to choose which beach you want to visit – it will be Alan Shepard Park Beach and that’s it. And you will have lines as shown in the pictures below!

NOTE – In 2018 we are seeing most cruise lines drop passengers at the Sheraton Four Points across the street from Ron Jon, instead of Shepard Beach. It may be a better option in Summer because of the heat and lack of shade/shelter at Shepard Beach.

Please also note – there are no bathrooms at the beach if you walk directly east from the Sheraton. The nearest bathrooms are at the hotel or a block or two north at Shepard Beach. 

Here are photos of the cruise line buses at Shepard Beach and vans at the Sheraton Four Points. Note the stop is under cover at the Sheraton and in the open at Shepard Beach:

Carnival buses at Shepard Beach
Carnival buses at Shepard Beach (click to enlarge)
RCL Bus at Shepard Beach
RCL Buses at Shepard Beach (click to enlarge)
Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop
NCL Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop (click to enlarge)
Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop
Sheraton Beach Shuttle Stop (click to enlarge)

b] Uber and Taxi Services

While 888-Transportation taxis will be waiting outside your terminal, those are metered therefor we recommend Uber because traffic can slow you down as you near the Cocoa Beach area. As stated above, expect to pay between $25 and $35 per car round-trip (maximum 4 adults) to Alan Shepard Beach but cheaper to the others. With Uber and Taxis you have flexibility and can choose your beach.

c] Rental Cars

It is wonderful to have your own transportation and the area is extremely easy to navigate. You can explore the beaches mentioned above or venture to others further away from the crowds.

Parking, however, can be a challenge unless you are willing to pay. Rates are shown below for each beach.

Please read our dedicated car rental pages!

d] Bike Rentals

This area is perfect for bike enthusiasts. It is flat with bike lanes and sidewalks everywhere. You can also ride on the beach (weather and tides permitting). Several of the rental companies will deliver your bikes to a predetermined location and arrange for convenient drop-offs. Please read our page Dedicated to Bike Rentals!

Jetty Park Beach

The best beach is Jetty Park because it is near the Port, it is far less commercial, the sand is wide with some wave action and there are life guards on duty. You can also walk out on the long fishing pier for a close-up look at the entrance of Port Canaveral!

However, if you are looking for bars and restaurants and shops, it is best to head further south to Cocoa Beach Pier or Alan Shepard Park.

If you enjoy walking you can easily walk the 3 miles from Jetty Park to Cocoa Beach Pier along the beach (easier at low tide).

Jetty Park Map
Jetty Park Map (click to enlarge)
Jetty Park Beach and Jetty
Jetty Park Beach and Jetty (click to enlarge)
Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)
Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)
Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach (click to enlarge)
Jetty Park Beach
Jetty Park Beach and life guard station (click to enlarge)

Parking/Entry Costs – $15 per car. Walking and cycling are free

Beach Rentals

Jetty Park Beach Rental Rates
Jetty Park Beach Rental Rates (click to enlarge)

Shops – The campground has a small shop but the gates are often locked. The beach Pavilion Store is open from 7:00am – 7:00pm if you want sodas, chips, etc.

Food/drinks – Fishlips Restaurant is the concessionaire for a good selection of hot meals. Hours are 7:00am – 7:00 pm.

Jetty Park Fishlips Pavilion Menu
Jetty Park Fishlips Pavilion Menu (click to enlarge)

Restrooms – yes with a water fountain

Cocoa Beach Pier Beach

If you want to go to the beach near restaurants or bars where surfers play, then the Cocoa Beach Pier beach area is just what you need! It is always busy but rarely overcrowded. If you want fewer people around you, just walk a few hundred yards to the north or south.

To see real-time beach conditions, here is a webcam of Cocoa Beach Pier:

Cocoa Beach Pier
Cocoa Beach Pier (click to enlarge)
Cocoa Beach Pier 2017
Cocoa Beach Pier (February 2017) – click to enlarge

The pier is fun but you either have to pay $2 to walk beyond the restaurants or buy a drink inside and keep the receipt! There is a small drink station on the outside pier (while the Tiki Bar is under construction).

Cocoa Beach Pier and Beach
Cocoa Beach Pier and Beach (click to enlarge)
Rikki Tiki Tavern
Rikki Tiki Tavern (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – $10 – $20 per car (including the $2 pier entry fee) but free after 4pm. Metered parking is also available.

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to the south and to the north to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. The stations on the north side are slightly cheaper. Expect to pay $20 – $25 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs. You can also rent bikes at Trader Ricks and Island Watercraft (on the beach in front of La Quinta Hotel).

Shops – Not a major shopping area (Publix groceries is the major business here) but the Pier has two shops for beach wear.

Food/drinks – Several bars and restaurants either on the pier or two blocks to the west. We recommend you hang out at the Pier.

Restrooms – Yes

Cocoa Beach Pier Beach
Cocoa Beach Pier Beach (click to enlarge)
Beach Rental -North
Beach Rental -North

 

Alan Shepard Park Beach

Cruise ship shore excursions go to Shepard beach (near Ron Jon) with several restaurants/bars nearby but do not go there if you want to avoid crowds during cruise visits.

NOTE – In 2018 we notice the cruise ships are dropping passengers at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel just a block or two south. As a result Shepard Beach is now less crowded when the ships are in!

Shepard Park Beach
Shepard Park Beach (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – $15 per car but metered parking is also available.

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. Expect to pay $30 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs.

Shepard Park Beach Rentals
Shepard Park Beach Rentals (click to enlarge)

Shops – Two blocks away you will find several beach shops including the famous Ron Jon a bit further south.

Food/drinks – Several bars and restaurants with Sandbar being the most popular. There is a 7-Eleven to buy snacks but you can also buy water, sodas and snacks from the vending machines at the beach (credit cards and cash accepted)

Restrooms – Yes

Shepard Park Beach Arrival
Shepard Park Beach Arrival (click to enlarge)
Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day
Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day with surf lessons in front (click to enlarge)
Sandbar and CaptJs
Sandbar on the right and and Captain J’s on the left (click to enlarge)

 

Shepard Park Vending
Shepard Park Vending (click to enlarge)

Lori Wilson Park Beach

To escape the crowds you can travel further south to Lori Wilson Park Beach. It located next to the Hilton Hotel.

Lori Wilson Park Beach
Lori Wilson Park Beach with the Hilton Hotel in the background (click to enlarge)

Parking/entry Costs – free with plenty of parking

Beach Rentals – You will find stations on the beach to rent umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards and surfboards. Expect to pay $20 per day for an umbrella and 2 chairs.

Shops – No

Food/drinks – You can walk to nearby Hilton Hotel or International Palms for restaurants. There is usually a food truck at the park.

Restrooms – Yes

Lori Wilson Park Food and Drink
Lori Wilson Park Food and Drink (click to enlarge)
Lori Wilson Park Rentals
Lori Wilson Park Rentals

Guide to the Jungle Adventures Shore Excursion

Jungle Adventures Shore Trip!

A wildlife sanctuary with rare Florida panthers, black bears, gray wolves, white-tailed deer, tropical birds, reptiles and mammals. Take a jungle swamp cruise, be surrounded by alligators, and witness some gator feeding. See how Spanish conquistadors lived in the 16th Century at the replica Spanish fort and go on a live guided exploration of their Native American Indian Village replica.

Here is a short video showing the large alligators at the sanctuary:

Kayaking Near Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach

Kayaking!

The brochures show crystal-clear blue water with playful dolphins leading the way as kayakers paddle between pods of friendly manatees.

Often, however, that’s not what folks experience and the kayaking shore trip activities get mixed reviews as a result – a shame! The Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach area is perfect for water-based exploration and kayaking is one of the most popular adventures in the area. You just need to plan properly and manage your expectations!

Kayaking at Manatee Cove
Kayaking at Manatee Cove (click to enlarge)

Kayaking Tips

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your kayaking shore trip:

  • At the coast weather can be unpredictable. You may have to brave strong wind and small waves on the river.
  • Know your capabilities and book an excursion that you can handle! You have to paddle to get around – there is no floating downstream here!
  • Come prepared with sunscreen, thin gloves, wide-rimmed hat, sunglasses (with retainer), bug repellent, sandals that stay on your feet (not flip-flops),  waterproof camera, comfortable clothes. For longer tours bring water and/or energy drinks and snacks.
  • Sightings are not guaranteed and the water is often murky. Also understand that manatee sightings are fewer during the colder months (Dec-Mar).
  • All kayaking tours are not the same. Read below to learn about the differences in terms of group sizes, kayaks, launch locations, etc.

How To Book a Kayaking Trip

There are 4 ways to do a kayaking adventure near Port Canaveral.

  1. Book a shore excursion with your cruise company
  2. Book a guided tour with one of the outfitters listed below – RECOMMENDED
  3. Rent a kayak, either at the launch site or have it delivered to the launch area. Then explore on your own, however, we recommend a guided tour instead.
  4. Rent a kayak at or near the beach to play in the ocean – this is really a beach-related activity for experienced folks and we list a few beach rental companies below
Kayak Tour
Kayak Tour (click to enlarge)

Kayaking outfitters offering guided tours

Most of these companies do not have offices to visit – they store/transport their kayaks on trailers not far from their favorite launch sites. Once booked, you will receive directions to the meeting or launch place which will be chosen based on season, sealife reports, currents, wind strength/direction, etc.

The prices, tours and locations listed here do change so PLEASE contact each company for accurate information!

Outfitter Rates  Tour Times / Locations
Calypso Kayaking $35.00 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6:30pm
Two hour tour at 1000 Islands. Launch mostly from Ramp Road or Country Club
Fin Expeditions $40.00 8am to 8:30am or 12:30pm to 1pm
Two hour tour at 1000 Islands. Launch from Ramp Road
Adventure Kayak $35.00 7am to whenever – based on bookings
Two and a half hours at various locations including 1000 Islands (Ramp Road).
Lazy Days Kayak $35.00 Morning and Afternoon – based on bookings
Two and a half hours at 1000 Islands (Ramp Road).
Relax Kayaks $35.00 On the hour – Based on bookings
Two hours at 1000 Islands (Ramp Road).
A1A Beach Rentals call 9:30am, 1:30pm (but flexible)
Half day tours at various locations including 1000 Islands (Ramp Road).
SoBe Surf $75.00 Between 9am and 3:30pm based on bookings
Two hours starting at the Veterans Memorial Launch
 Calema Watersports  $40.00  Early AM and late PM
Tours start at Kelly Park to an island near Canaveral Lock

Kayak rental companies

They may or may not deliver kayaks depending on many factors such as time of day, season and your location. You may have to rent a roof rack system if you have a rental car. It is best to call and ask about these things before renting.

The easiest way is to rent at the launch site from companies who park their trailers there for a day! You just show up in your rental car or with Uber/taxi and your kayak will be waiting! Try Calypso at the 1000 Islands.

  • Relaxed Kayaks
  • A1A Beach Rentals
  • Wildlife Watersports
  • Calypso Kayaking
  • SoBe Surf
  • Calema Watersports
  • Surf & Ski Watersports
  • Ron Jon Watersports
  • Cocoa Beach Rentals
  • Last Chance Cafe & Bait

Kayak Launch Spots

This map shows the popular kayak launch areas in the area. For newcomers or cruisers we suggest to focus on the 1000 Islands at Ramp Road for your first kayaking adventure. Please read our Guide to the 1000 Islands at Cocoa Beach.

 

Country Club Launch
Country Club Launch (click to enlarge)
Ulumay Launch
Ulumay Launch (click to enlarge)
Ulumay Launch to Sykes Creek
Ulumay Launch to Sykes Creek (click to enlarge)
Wall Street Launch
Wall Street Launch (click to enlarge)
Veterans Memorial Launch
Veterans Memorial Launch (click to enlarge)
Ramp Road Launch
Ramp Road Launch (click to enlarge)
Kiwanis Launch
Kiwanis Launch (click to enlarge)
Banana River Park Launch
Banana River Park Launch (click to enlarge)
Last Chance Launch
Last Chance Launch (click to enlarge)
Kelly Park Launch
Kelly Park Launch (click to enlarge)

Pictures and Video

Adventure Kayak

Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach
Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach (click to enlarge)
Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach
Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach (click to enlarge)

Calypso Kayaking

Calypso Kayaking
Calypso Kayaking (click to enlarge)

Fin Expeditions

Fin Expeditions
Fin Expeditions (click to enlarge)

SoBe Surf

SoBe Surf
SoBe Surf