Shore Trips and Things To Do – Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral Shore Trips and Things to Do!

This page is dedicated to passengers on visiting cruise ships and anyone looking for shore trips and things to do at Port Canaveral . They generally have limited time in the area and here we will provide tips to make the most of the port visit! We discuss the available shore excursions or shore trips from different cruise lines and provide more information about each trip – an unofficial guide if you will!

Every time a cruise ship docks at Port Canaveral the streets are full with cruisers looking lost! Many wander aimlessly – looking for attractions and landmarks but without any idea of the distances involved and how to get where they need to go!

In this section we aim to help – using our LIVE MAP! Generally cruisers have these options and we discuss it below:

  • Stay on the ship and enjoy the facilities without the crowds or wander short distances around the Port area
  • Book a shore excursion sponsored by the cruise line
  • Book a shore excursion arranged by 3rd-party adventure companies such a Shore Trips.  
  • Plan their own shore adventures using the information provided here. NOTE – some local companies do not accept bookings from cruise passengers unless you call on the day of arrival or pay in full at the time of booking. This is because so many passengers change their minds once on the ship and then they do not show up – causing loss of income for local providers.

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 all local sights and attractions as far away as the Orlando theme parks. With our map you cannot get lost and you do not have to be worried about making your way around the area.

How to access our LIVE MAP?

  1. With WiFi enabled, on  your phone, PC or tablet, click on the image below
  2. Save the URL in your favorites once the map appears, or email the URL to your device.
  3. Note your position (BLUE DOT) then navigate around and click on the various icons to learn about your surroundings!
Live Map Port Canaveral
Live Map Port Canaveral – CLICK on image to access the live map

Which is your cruise terminal?

If you dock at terminals A5, A6, A8 or A10 then you need transport. Either a taxi, rental car shuttle or a pre-arranged ride – information below.

If you dock at terminals B1 or B3 then you have rental car companies nearby, taxis lined up and some activities within walking distance (please read our Port Canaveral Orientation for detailed information and photos):

  • Jetty Park (FREE for walkers/cyclists/Uber/Lyft/Taxi) for a beach/suntan. Very scenic area, a cafeteria and very nice beach with life guards and rentals
  • Beach bus stop – For $1.50 one-way, the local beach bus will take you to Cocoa Beach (Shepard Park for Ron Jon area) or the famous Cocoa Beach Pier. About 15 minutes to these stops. The bus route (anti-clockwise bus travel) is marked in red on my map and you can see the stops (one is outside Terminal B1)
  • The Cove at the Port – All the famous restaurants (Millikens, Rusty’s, Fishlips, Grills)
  • The Exploration Tower – A bit expensive ($6.50+tax) but interesting info about the port with games for kids and 360 degree view from the 7th floor
  • Helicopter and biplane rides – The chopper parks across the road from the Exploration Tower near terminal B1
  • The Cove Hopper – A free (donations very welcome) extended golf-cart shuttle service offered by friendly locals with a wealth of knowledge. Using back roads they can take you south as far as Ron Jon! Or just drive you around the Port. Telephone – (321) 5365957
The Cove Hopper
The Cove Hopper (click to enlarge)

Listings of Shore Excursions and Private Explorations

Here is a list of Shore Excursions (shore trips) and Private Explorations available if Port Canaveral is your port of call. Some are offered by cruise lines, some are offered by 3rd party shore trip companies but please know you can easily arrange any of these on your own!

Excursion 1 – Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Shuttle

This is a bus service running continually throughout the day during your cruise ship visit.

To plan your beach day, please read our detailed Guide to the Beaches of Canaveral/Cocoa Beach

Please note. This excursion is often combined with a shuttle service to Cocoa Village. Buses run continually between Alan Shepard Park and Cocoa Village (see excursion 2).

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Take the SCAT bus to Shepard Park for $1.50 each way if your ship is docked at Terminal 1 or 3. See our full description of SCAT below. 
  2. Take Uber or taxi from the Port to Captain J’s Restaurant in Cocoa Beach. This will place you right at the beach at Shepard Park.

 

Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day
Shepard Beach on Shore Trip Day

 

Excursion 2 – Cocoa Village

This excursion is offered in multiple ways.

Some cruise lines provide a standalone trip to Cocoa Village with set times for departure and arrivals. Most. however, do the following:

  1. Take the Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Shuttle bus from the Port to Alan Shepard Park (the beach) – about 6 miles
  2. Change to a different bus for the short drive to Cocoa Village (7.5 miles, about 20 minutes). The tour bus stops just west of Ryan’s Pizza on Harrison St in the Village
  3. After exploring Cocoa Village, return by bus to Alan Shepard Park. Then change to the Port Shuttle bus to return to the ship

Cocoa Village has 2 or 3 streets to explore with several unique shops and popular local restaurants. It is a small area and you probably will not need more than an hour to see it all. There is nothing particularly special to see or do in Cocoa Village.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Please read our dedicated SCAT page for exact directions if your ship is docked at Terminal 1 or 3.  
  2. Take Uber or taxi from the Port to Ryan’s Pizza & Pub in Cocoa Village. This will place you at a good location to start exploring.
  3. Tip from a local. Book this excursion ONLY if you enjoy strolling and shopping in small downtown villages. Children and teens will be bored! 
Cocoa Village at Night
Cocoa Village at Night (click to enlarge)

Excursion 3 – Universal Studios

Please read our dedicated page for trips to Universal Studios in Orlando – whether you drive with a rental car or booked a shore excursion.

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Excursion 4 – Walt Disney World and/or Disney Springs

Please read our dedicated page for trips to Walt Disney World – whether you drive with a rental car or booked a shore excursion.

Magic Kingdom Castle
Magic Kingdom Castle

Excursion 5 – Kennedy Space Center

Some cruise ships are in port from 1pm to 9pm. Is a trip to KSC doable?

Please read our dedicated page for trips to the Kennedy Space Center – whether you drive with a rental car or booked a shore excursion.

Atlantis - Kennedy Space Center
Atlantis – Kennedy Space Center

Excursion 6 – Florida Beer Company

This is a 2-hour excursion offered by several cruise lines to Florida Beer Company. The group excursions include a 25-minute tour of the brewery normally only available to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. So if you visit during the week and want a tour it is best to book a cruise excursion.

  • Should you visit on weekends, there is a modest $10 fee for the tour which includes a flight of 4 samples.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Proper attire is required, closed toe shoes must be worn.
  • Safety glasses are provided and must be worn at all times.
  • No food or drink is allowed inside the brewery but you can eat in the tasting room (takeout menus available to order food for delivery).
  • Guest 16 years of age and older only on tours.  Any one under 21 must be accompanied by an attentive, responsible parent or guardian.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. You can rent a bike, use the SCAT bus or taxi/Uber. Read our dedicated SCAT page for bus stop information, etc.
Florida Beer Company
Florida Beer Company (click to enlarge)

Excursion 7 – Guided Segway Tour

This is a 75 minute tour around the Port offered by a local company Space Coast Experience, based at the Port next to Charlie’s Cafe.

Expert guides will teach you the Segway basics and have you ride through Port Cape Canaveral in no time. Helmets and safety instructions are provided, meaning all you have to focus on is having fun. Your own personal Segway transporter takes you to popular sights such as the Exploration Tower, Cove Marketplace, and Blue Point Marina – on some days you may spot manatees, dolphins, and even sea turtles!

  • Children must be at least 14 years old
  • Please bring your own water, sunglasses and do wear appropriate clothes (no dresses, skirts, high heels, etc). Sandals are fine.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

Please visit their website for the latest information and tour times. Do ask about an upgrade to include Jetty Park! Then take a taxi or Uber to Charlie’s Cafe on Mullet Rd.

Segway Tour
Segway Tour (click to enlarge)

Excursion 8 – Airboat Adventure at Lone Cabbage

This is a 30-minute tour of the grassy waterways and marshes about 18 miles SW of the Port. The comfortable drive to Lone Cabbage takes about 30 minutes on tarmac roads and the whole excursion may take 3 hours.

Please read our dedicated page for the Airboat Rides at Lone Cabbage – whether you drive with a rental car, rent a bike or booked a shore excursion.

Lone Cabbage is one of two locations for cruise ship airboat rides. The other is at Midway (excursion 9 below). Which one is best? Here are some differences:

  • The airboat experience is the same. Alligators are the main attraction and both places use experienced local watermen as guides. You will see birds and lots of alligators – large and small!
  • Lone Cabbage has popular fish camp-style restaurant/bar serving mostly fried food with good reviews.
  • Midway has a small shop, fish tanks and exotic birds as well as live baby alligators on display. Their pot-bellied pig is very comfortable sleeping anywhere he wants!
  • Midway is slightly further (about 40 minutes) at 30 miles from the Port with Midway near a large animal sanctuary – Jungle Adventures with many rare animals and huge alligators.

In our opinion younger kids will like Midway more because of their animals and especially when the excursion includes the Jungle Adventure.

Lone Cabbage Air Boat
Lone Cabbage Air Boat (click to enlarge)

Excursion 9 – Airboat Adventure at Midway and Alligator Jungle

This is a 30-minute tour of the grassy waterways and marshes about 30 miles NW of the Port. The comfortable drive to Midway takes about 40 minutes on tarmac roads and the whole excursion  including the Alligator Jungle may take 6 hours.

Please read our dedicated page for the Airboat Rides at Midway – whether you drive with a rental car, rent a bike or booked a shore excursion.

Midway is one of two locations for cruise ship airboat rides. The other is at Lone Cabbage (excursion 8 above). Which one is best? Please read the comparison shown above in Excursion 8.

Afterwards, you get back on the bus for the 3 mile drive to Jungle Adventures – 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.

Midway Airboat Rides
Midway Airboat Rides (click to enlarge)
Midway Airboat
Midway Airboat (click to enlarge)

Excursion 10 – Pontoon Cruise on the Banana River

This is a 2-hour eco-cruise by Island Boat Lines on a comfortable pontoon boat starting at the Sunset Waterfront Grill restaurant and cruising in a clockwise direction south towards the Thousand Islands. The excursion takes about 3 hours in total including the 6 mile drive (20 minutes) from the port. The cruise route is shown in blue on our map.

The Thousand Islands are a flood tide delta deposit, formed in the past by a breach in the barrier island by a strong storm surge. This natural occurrence created a maze of narrow trails and canals through the natural mangrove islands and hidden hammocks. The spectacular canals through the Thousand Islands provide shelter to manatee, dolphin and a variety of coastal birds.

Your tour is guided by a licensed captain and a very knowledgeable Naturalist.

Please read our dedicated page for the Pontoon Cruise – whether you drive with a rental car, rent a bike or booked a shore excursion.

Island Boat Lines on the Banana River
Island Boat Lines on the Banana River (click to enlarge)

Excursion 11 – Surf Lessons at Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is home to one of the world’s best surfers ever – Kelly Slater – so you know it is a great place to learn how to surf!

The cruise ship excursions go to the beach at Alan Shepard Park about 6 miles from the Port. This area is known for the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop just a block away. There are several restaurants nearby (Sandbar is a local favorite), restrooms at the beach as well as beach rentals and shopping.

Most surfing excursions are about 3 hours long including the drive to Shepark Park, meaning you get about 90 minutes or so in the water. Surf boards and wet suits are included.

The lessons start with instructions on the beach and before too long you will hang ten in the Cocoa Beach waves!

We recommend you contact one of the following local companies for private surf lessons during your cruise visit:

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Pre-arrange your surf lessons with one of the companies listed above. They will give you directions but the location will probably be at Alan Shepard Park Beach.
  2. Take the SCAT bus to Shepard Park for $1.50 each way if your ship is docked at Terminal 1 or 3. See our full description of SCAT below. 
  3. Take Uber or taxi from the Port to Captain J’s Restaurant in Cocoa Beach. This will place you right at the beach at Shepard Park.
Shepard Beach Surf Lesson
Shepard Beach Surf Lesson (click to enlarge)
Surf School at Shepard Park
Surf School at Shepard Park (click to enlarge)

Excursion 12 – Port Canaveral Highlights

A 3-hour tour by bus of the greater Port area.

First stop is the Air Force Space & Missile History Center to learn about the beginnings of space exploration. The History Center features exhibits highlighting every launch complex on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Please know this museum is mostly about the launch areas of the Cape and how things have changed over the years as the rockets became more powerful and sophisticated. It is just one big room with exhibits displayed in order of use.

Next, stop at The Canaveral lock, built in 1965. This is the largest navigation lock in Florida that connects Port Canaveral with the Banana River. The Lock is a magnet for fish and birds and on any given day you may see Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Wood Stork. Manatees and dolphins may also be spotted. Hopefully the lock will open and close for boat traffic during your visit!

The last stop is a visit to Wild Ocean Seafood Market at The Cove next to Milliken’s Reef Restaurant where you will do a short tour of their working dock. You will taste a sampling of Canaveral Shrimp.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Take Uber or taxi or rental car from your terminal to the Air force Space and Missile Museum on the north end of the Port. The best way to visit the other stops is to rent a car, a bike or do a Segway tour.
Air Force Museum
Air Force Museum (click to enlarge)
Port Canaveral Lock
Port Canaveral Lock (click to enlarge)
Seafood Market
Seafood Market

Excursion 13 – Ziplines at Forever Florida

This is a 6-hour excursion to the Forever Florida adventure farm about 61 miles SW of the Port (1 hour 15 minutes by bus).

The very popular zipline activity takes about 2.5 hours but you need another 30 minutes for registration, briefings and gear checks. You will reach heights of 68 feet and zip along at 30mph!

You’ll start with transport from the Forever Florida Visitor Center on an all-terrain adventure coach.  It’s a mile ride out to the ziplines so you will have a chance to learn about the 4700-acre Forever Florida wildlife conservation area and Crescent J, a picturesque Florida ranch featuring Spanish Colonial Cattle and Florida’s unique Cracker Horses.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Rent a car for this one and follow the directions on our map above!

Excursion 14 – ICON 360 Orlando Experience

This is a 6-hour excursion to Orlando about 55 miles W of the Port (1 hour by bus).

You will visit the tourist district of Orlando and its newest $250 million entertainment destination, ICON 360, home of big observation wheel! Your tickets allow you to enjoy the wheel, the SEA LIFE Aquarium and Madame Tussaud’s. The new state of the art observation wheel, with enclosed air-conditioned glass capsules, is 400-feet tall and offers visitors views of Central Florida including nearby theme parks and attractions, lakes, the Orlando downtown skyline and surrounding areas. It takes about 25 minutes.

Next door, Madame Tussaud’s, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, offers you an opportunity to take a selfie with your favorite celebrity, shake hands with the president and even get on stage with your favorite pop star. An immersive underwater experience awaits you as you come face to face with sea creatures at the SEA LIFE Aquarium’s winding tunnels and floor-to-ceiling tanks.

How to arrange this excursion on your own:

  1. Rent a car for this one and follow the directions on our map above!

Excursion 15 – SeaWorld

This is a 9-hour excursion to Orlando about 55 miles W of the Port (1 hour by bus).

SeaWorld Orlando needs no introduction!

We are creating a dedicated page with tips for cruisers and will post it soon.

Excursion 16 – Gatorland

This is a 6-hour excursion to Orlando about 55 miles W of the Port (1 hour by bus).

Known internationally as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” Gatorland provides affordable family fun showcasing thousands of alligators and crocodiles including four extremely rare leucistic “white” alligators. The free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one of a kind animal shows, Gator Gully Splash Park, natural alligator breeding marsh, and the “thrilling” Screamin’ Gator Zip Line will ensure a fun-filled day.

We are creating a dedicated page with tips for cruisers and will post it soon.

Excursion 17 – Kayaking Adventure

This excursion is offered by various cruise lines and shore trip companies. The trips vary in terms of costs, duration and location but basically the idea is to look for birds, dolphin and manatee in the rivers near Port Canaveral in the company of naturalist/guides. Often the cruise line contracts with a local adventure company who contracts with a local kayak company – several booking layers are involved!

In general these trips and guide companies get mixed reviews because kayaking is not for everyone and having first-timers and experienced guests in the same group can lead to frustration. Some guests simply cannot handle the Florida heat and rowing in windy conditions in open water can be tiring and unnerving to inexperienced kayakers. Even folks who kayaked before may find double kayaks a bit more challenging if the partner is inexperienced.

For those and other reasons, do not book a kayaking adventure until you read our dedicated page with tips for cruisers who want to book water-based activities. Here is our Guide to Kayaking near Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.

Kayak Rentals at Ramp Rd Park
Kayak Tour at Ramp Rd Park (click to enlarge)

On Your Own – You can book any of the shore trips direct!

In doing so you may save money, you can avoid the crowds and you can tailor the trip to suit your needs! We tell you exactly how to book direct in each of the dedicated pages for the activities above. In addition, you can do the following:

On Your Own – Explore the area cheaply by SCAT bus

For $1.50 one-way, the local beach bus will take you to Cocoa Beach (Shepard Park for Ron Jon area), the famous Cocoa Beach Pier (use Publix Stop) and points further away such as Cocoa Village.

Please visit our SCAT Bus page for tour suggestions, SCAT maps and general information!

SCAT Bus at Port Canaveral
SCAT Bus at Port Canaveral

On Your Own – Bicycle Rental

The Cape Canaveral / Cocoa Beach area is perfect for biking. Totally flat with designated bike lanes, you can get anywhere fast and you will never be far from the beach or places to eat, drink and shop!

It is totally unnecessary to overpay for a biking shore trip arranged by your travel agent or cruise line. Renting a bike is affordable, navigation is super simple and you will appreciate the flexibility of exploring on your own. Several, if not all, the rental companies will deliver bikes to your location (cruise terminal 1 in particular) but it is best to arrange this before your cruise. You can also grab a bike from one of several Zagster rental stations.

Please visit our Bicycle Rental page for tour suggestions, bike maps and general information.

Bike Rentals on Cocoa Beach
Bike Rentals on Cocoa Beach (click to enlarge)

On Your Own – Local Water Sports Rentals

If you want to explore the wildlife rich waters near the Port, considering renting a paddleboard, kayak or even a boat for the day! You can rent by the hour, for half a day or even a full day if your ship arrives early. You may see manatees and dolphins as well as a wide variety of birds.

We are creating a dedicated page with tips for cruisers and will post it soon.

Kayak Rentals on the Banana River
Kayak Rentals on the Banana River (click to enlarge)

 

On Your Own – Pontoon Boat Cruises to see Manatee and Dolphin and Birds

These are really fun trips about 2-hours long guided by naturalists along the Banana River waterways.

We are creating a dedicated page to show these trips in more detail but here two excellent companies to contact:

Wildside Tours – They specialize in the Thousand Islands and are located at Ramp Road Park (just to the SW of Coconuts on the Beach). The route takes you along the deeper channels of the Thousand Islands where you are almost guaranteed to spot dolphin as well as manatee (between May and November).

Island Boat Lines – This great tour is discussed above (Excursion 10).

Wildside Tours
Wildside Tours (click to enlarge)
Island Boat Lines
Island Boat Lines (click to enlarge)

On Your Own – Machine Gun America (Orlando) – adult activity

Not cheap and certainly not our top choice for fun in Orlando, but for adults the idea of shooting a bunch of very large guns is intriguing and rather unique.

At Machine Gun America you’ll get the opportunity to shoot real machine guns and other world-class firearms or square off in realistic, military-grade simulators for a totally new experience. Choose your favorite guns from a wide selection of premier firearms or go for a themed shooting event!

AK-47, Glocks, M1919, M4, MP5 and many other renowned guns are available!

On Your Own – Chocolate Kingdom (Orlando)

Chocolate Kingdom, the Factory Adventure Tour, is a 45-minute interactive journey that uncovers how chocolate transforms from the bean into a creamy, dreamy chocolate bar. A Personal Chocolate Tour Guide joins forces with a handsome Prince and his Dragon sidekick to take guests through a Cacao Tree Greenhouse, a one-of-a-kind Chocolate Museum, a Mystical River of Chocolate and a Micro Batch Bean-to-the-Bar Factory utilizing old world machinery.

With an opportunity to customize your own chocolate bar for an additional cost, Chocolate Kingdom will inspire and amaze chocoholics of all ages.

On Your Own – Brevard County Brewery Tour

There are 9 (soon 10) breweries within a 50 minute drive from Port Canaveral! All the breweries are shown with yellow icons on our Shore Trip Map.

Needless to say, you have to rent a car or use Uber to visit the breweries except two – Florida Beer Company and Cocoa Beach Brewing Company can be reached by SCAT bus

TIP – If you have a car, please know the DUI laws are strictly enforced in Brevard Country so please assign a designated driver.

Please visit our dedicated Brewery Tour Information page with tips for cruisers!

Brewery Tour in Brevard County
Brewery Tour in Brevard County

On Your Own – Pokémon GO

If you love this game from Niantic then you will not be disappointed with the Canaveral area!

Please read our Guide For Pokémon Trainers complete with a map of gyms and stops!

On Your Own – Museums and a Lighthouse

There are several wonderful museums and a zoo just a short distance from Port Canaveral but a rental car will be best to tour these. The locations are indicated on our map shown above.

Air Force Space and Missile History Center – The history of the launch areas around Canaveral. Very informative.

Warbird Museum – If you love aviation then this is the place to go. Lovingly maintained by volunteers (mostly ex-armed forces). It is an amazing museum.

Police Hall of Fame – More interesting than most expect. Various exhibits of the history of major crime as well as an impressive though very sad memorial. Policing nowadays get plenty of bad press but it is sobering to see how many perish daily around the country. It is a very dangerous job. Respect.

Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek – Much more than a zoo, it is an adventure that the whole family will enjoy! Do not miss the train as it steams from Cairo to Australasia past Lemur Island and into Africa!

Sunward Tours – They can arrange just about any activity including the great Canaveral Lighthouse tour!