Cocoa Beach, Florida, is located about an hour from Orlando and Disney. While Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach are more popular with tourists, Cocoa Beach is the favorite of Central Florida locals. With rocket launches, bioluminescent kayaking, white sand beaches, and cruise ships coming and going from nearby Port Canaveral, there is always something to see and do here. If you are planning a trip to Orlando or taking a cruise out of Port Canaveral, schedule in a few extra days to explore this area.
Where To Stay
There are plenty of places to stay on or near the beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida. You can find everything from older-style hotels and motels to recently updated family resorts.
Recently renovated and opened, Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort is an all-suite hotel. Each suite has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area and living room. The middle of the hotel features a pool, lazy river, splash pad, and adults-only lounge area. For the beach area, there is a patio area with tables and umbrellas, free beach rentals, and a beach concierge service. The beach concierge provides everything but food and drinks (including suntan lotion on your way out and aloe lotion for your sunburns on the way back to your room).
Plus, because Westage also own the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier, you can catch the free shuttle between the two. There is one pool bar with food at the resort, but the pier is less than a mile away and also has multiple dining options.
Where To Eat
When spending a weekend in Cocoa Beach, Florida, eat as many meals as possible overlooking the water. There are plenty of options to eat with water views, but these are the best ones.
The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is a popular stop in Cocoa Beach for food. The pier has a tiki bar called Rikki Tiki Tavern at the end of the pier that serves food and drinks over the water with a view that sometimes includes dolphins playing and hunting nearby. If you want the eat in the air conditioning or enjoy a nice date night, Pelican’s Bar and Grille is your place.
Looking for a casual dining experience for breakfast, lunch or dinner even in your beach attire? The Boardwalk Bar plays beach-themed music and has fans to keep you cooled off while you enjoy a meal overlooking the beach. Keith’s Oyster Bar is the only open air seafood bar in Cocoa Beach and is open on the weekends, and Sea Dogs offers beach snacks and quick meals for your day at the beach.
Outside of the Cocoa Beach Pier, one of Cocoa Beach’s most popular beach restaurants is Coconuts on the Beach. Situated right on the beach and featuring both indoor and outdoor seating, Coconuts stays busy. Get there early if you go for dinner and want to sit overlooking the beach as locals and visitors alike fill the tables quickly in the evening. Take the short walk over to the Fat Donkey for ice cream afterwards too.
If you head down to Cape Canaveral, a short 10 minute drive away, there are quite a few options right on the water on the inlet. Options here include Fishlips Waterfront Grill and Bar, Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar (a personal favorite), and Rusty’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
What To Do
If you love the beach and beach activities, you are set in Cocoa Beach. You can take surf lessons where Kelly Slater grew up and learned to surf, relax on the beach, ride a bike, play beach volleyball, and more. Umbrella rentals are available as well as all of these options at the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier.
You can also get away from the crowds and have the beach to yourself if that is your preference. There are lots of smaller parking lots along the beach where you park and use a boardwalk over the dunes to the beach without many other people around. Most lots require you to pay to park, so be ready and make sure you don’t overstay if you use a meter. The parking attendants are always ready to write tickets if you haven’t paid for your spot.
While the original Ron Jon Surf Shop is in New Jersey, there is also a huge store in Cocoa Beach. It used to be on the Cocoa Beach Pier, but now the location is huge and located not far from the original location. Across the street is the Cocoa Beach Surf Company. Between the two of them, all of your surfing and beach needs are met.
If you are looking for something a little different on your Cocoa Beach weekend getaway, plan your weekend away during a rocket launch. You can find the dates ahead of time, but they do tend to shift due to weather fairly often. Keep an eye on the schedule as it gets closer for updates. You can see the rocket launches really well from anywhere in Cocoa Beach, but the beach near the pier is a popular spot to go for the launches. Make sure to arrive early to park if you are driving somewhere to watch it.
Even with all of these great options, there is still one more unique thing to do in Cocoa Beach – bioluminescent kayaking or paddle-boarding. There are very few places in the world where this is an option. From June to October is the best time to go, but you can see bioluminescent comb jellies from November to May. There are quite a few tour companies who will take you out, or you can bring your own kayak or paddle-board and go on your own on the inter-coastal waterway.
Why Everyone Needs A Weekend In Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach is a special place to get away from the crowds at the theme parks in Orlando and at Daytona Beach. Because of the more relaxed and laid back vibe, you’ll find more Central Florida locals here. With rocket launches and bioluminescent kayaking as options on top of the normal beach activities, Cocoa Beach is an excellent option for a weekend getaway. Next time you are in the area, take time to visit this beautiful white sand beach before heading back to the crowds at Disney or heading back home to work.