Best Beaches

Sunrise to Surf – Why Cocoa Beach Offers Up a Great Family Beach Vacation

Located just an hour from the Walt Disney World Resort area, Cocoa Beach is probably best known for being the closest beach for Disney Vacationers to get in a day of beach time and fun in the sun. However, Cocoa Beach has much to offer a family looking for an action packed but moderately priced beach vacation.

Cocoa Beach has many lodging options and offers some of the most competitive hotel and condo pricing on Florida’s east coast, leaving you with a little more spending money for the many activities nearby. (Choosing your hotel or condo stay can get a little tricky but we will get in to that later in this post).

Cocoa Beach is also known as a great place to surf and if you have ever been on an interstate in Florida, you most likely have seen the signs for Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, one of the largest if not the largest surf shop in the world.

Having two teenage girls with us on our stay at Cocoa Beach meant spending over an hour in Ron Jon’s. I said the magic words, “you can each pick out one thing”, having no idea how long it would take them to explore the whole store to pick out that one thing!! The store is massive and has everything a beach goer would ever think of wanting.

The biggest attraction for me on Florida’s east coast is of course the sunrise and it seems that no two are ever alike. People start lining the beach about 15 minutes before sunrise each morning to watch that big glowing ball come at first slowly and then rising very quickly, from what looks like, right out of the water.

Of course the main attraction is the beach itself. Our recent visit was January 2nd and we had a warm Florida winters day with the temperature topping out at 80 degrees, however the water was a chilly 66 degrees. People didn’t seem to mind the cool water temps as there sure were a lot of people in the water. The day was a bit windy which made it all the better for the surfers, with high enough waves making for some decent surfing and with the waves crashing on the beach, the on lookers experienced a little ocean spray.

The Cocoa Beach Pier and the surrounding beach area, is quite the hang out with the pier itself having shops, restaurants and some great places to sit back, relax and look out over the water with an adult beverage or two. The surrounding beach is usually packed with surfers, volleyball players and beach lovers, just hanging out and having a great time.


Original Hamboards, SurfSkate boards with Land Paddles

A concept that I found quite amusing but practical was the grab a noodle save a turtle idea at the concession stand by the pier. Plastic straws are a hazard to marine life and this pier concession has come up with a unique solution for customers who still prefer a straw with their drink. An over sized pasta noodle, it works too!!

Buy Tickets to The Kennedy Space Center and Save up to 25%

Cocoa beach is on Florida’s Space Coast and is about a 35 minute drive to the Kennedy Space Center. The space center is a whole days worth of family space exploration, from bus tours to the launch pads, to a thrilling blast off experience, to hands on activities and more. Definitely a must do for any family visiting the Cocoa Beach area. And If you plan your vacation just right and check the launch schedules before you book, you may get to see one of the many rocket launches, throughout the year, that can be easily seen and felt from the beach. I really enjoy the night launches as the night sky is lit up and that combined with the sounds of the rocket blasting off, really enhances the experience. Just be warned that a rocket launch is an added bonus to your vacation plans and your vacation should not really be planed around a launch as there are a number of reasons launches can be canceled or postponed.

I said before that I found hotel and condos stays in Cocoa Beach to be some of the most moderately priced on the east coast, and it is true, however, a little tricky. A lot of the hotel and condo lined streets in Cocoa Beach run East & West, and where you will find an advertised room with an Ocean View, it does not necessarily mean that you are right on the beach. Case in point is our recent stay. We were on the 5th floor and had a beautiful view of the ocean but our hotel was set back about half a block from the beach with another hotel between us an the ocean. Some recent advice that was given to me, that I would like to pass on to you, is to always check the hotel you are interested in staying at on Google Earth and see how it is situated and it’s real proximity to the ocean. We did indeed do that on our stay and found that our view would not be impeded too much and because the room fit all our other criteria: big enough for 2 old cranky adults with 2 moody teenagers, a balcony ocean view, fridge, free breakfast, with only a short 5 minute walk to the beach, and the best part – a price that fit our budget!!, we went ahead and chose the booking even though the hotel did not sit directly on the beach. Our stay was around $250.00 per night with all the taxes figured in and I would say that the price was on the low end of average for Ocean View with Balcony.

Cocoa Beach offers many beach activities to keep your family busy throughout your stay. From parasailing, to surfing lessons, to putt putt golf to just some good old fashioned beach play in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean, and more. We certainly enjoyed our time there and best part, we still had a few bucks in our wallet at the end of our stay. I would say, that is certainly my definition of a successful beach getaway!!

Closest Airports to Cocoa Beach are:

  • Orlando Melbourne Airport (MLB) Approx. 21 miles
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) Approx. 50 miles

Cocoa Beach is also conveniently located about 7 miles south of the cruise port and would make a great beach stay before or after a cruise out of Port Canaveral.

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