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)
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:
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.
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).
Parking/Entry Costs – $15 per car. Walking and cycling are free
Beach Rentals –
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.
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:
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! When paying you get a $2 discount token to be used when ordering drinks at the tiki bar!
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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