Well-known for its seamlessly endless miles of pristine beaches, Cocoa Beach offers a stretch of ankle-deep water, where you can park your chair and umbrella for hours on end; as well as big, fun, rolling waves perfect for surfing and boogie boarding. This makes Cocoa an ideal year-round destination for families and beach goers with varying interests.
We stayed at Sandcastles Condominiums, in one of Jill Bavetta’s magnificent, 3 bedroom/2 bath, oceanfront condominiums, which offer wraparound balconies with sweeping views of the beach and top notch amenities. To book, contact: http://www.beachjill.com.
In addition to the beach, there are a number of up-close-and-personal animal experiences in nearby Merritt Island. Space enthusiasts will also want to check out the Kennedy Space Center and may even have the opportunity to witness a rocket launch. But by far, our favorite experience was located a scenic 40 minute drive from Cocoa Beach, where we enjoyed one of the most unique, fascinating experiences in the world.
Florida bioluminescence is the #1 kayaking trip in Florida and one of only a few locations in the world in which to experience bioluminescence. Florida Adventurer Tours took us on the adventure of a lifetime!
While kayaking at night can be thrilling on its own, when you throw bioluminescence into the mix- things become particularly magical. Paddling out on the Florida waters after the sun goes down is the only way to see dinoflagellates, AKA tiny, glowing plankton.
When dinoflagellates are disturbed by motion around them, they emit a green-blue glow. This is why kayaking is the best way to witness this marvel – when the hull of your kayak cuts through the water or you plunge your paddle into the sea, these microorganisms sense the motion and fill the surrounding water with an other-worldly glow. Be sure to place your hands in the water to watch them sparkle with hundreds of twinkling lights- like handfuls of stars.
Expert Tip: Try to schedule your trip on a dark night around the New Moon (when the moon is least visible) because the light of the moon reflects on the water and could make the bioluminescent glow less vibrant and visible. However, even if your tour falls on a night when the moon is full, Florida Adventurer’s friendly and experienced guides know where to take you to make the most of the glow.
Florida Adventurer tours are ideal for nature lovers, a romantic evening on the water or an expedition in the name of science with the little ones (as long as they are over age five). The guides will lead you through the darkest and most serene parts of the Indian River lagoon as you make your way through mangrove trails and the shallow flats of the lagoon for approximately 90 minutes, encountering all sorts of sea creatures, including manatees and even dolphins at times, all aglow with the sparkling bioluminescence. Think about being surrounded by bright stars above you in the sky and below you in the water.
Florida Adventurer provided an unforgettable experience. Check out their website for the best times to go and guidelines on what to bring and to book tickets.
Cocoa Beach Dining
Hands-down the best restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Nosh is the brainchild of former Industrial Designer Jun Insisiengmay and his brother, restauranteur, Meno Insisiengmay. The pair have created an incredible restaurant with a stylish design and have added playful twists to “Momma Insisiengmay’s” family recipes. As a result, the dishes are works of art to the eyes as well as to the palate. Our favorites included: Da Bomb, light tempura fried half avocado filled with spicy krab and spicy tuna mix; Dirty Old Man Roll: Shrimp tempura, spicy krab, asparagus, avocado, scallions, cream cheese, topped with tuna red tempura flake, black topiko, and eel sauce; and No Name Roll: tempura krab, cream cheese, spicy tuna, avocado, and scallions then topped with salmon, tuna, and tempura flakes, drizzled with kimchee and eel sauce. The Panang Curry was also out of this world. Each specialty sushi roll was large enough to be considered a meal. Every dish we tried was excellent.
Nosh boasts a 2500 square foot dining area and full bar with seating for 16, in a sleek, modern designed space. Our only problem was that we weren’t in town long enough to dine at Nosh a second and third time! For hours, menu and additional information, visit: https://www.nosheats.com
4th Street Fillin’ Station
4th Street Fillin Station is an old gas station turned gastro-bar which serves casual yet expertly prepared menu items like street tacos, burgers and poke bowls. The menu is stacked with plant-based and gluten-free options, over 150 craft beers, massive craft cocktail and wine lists, plus home made ice cream milkshakes and waffle sundaes. Prices are great and the wide variety of food choices offer something for everyone.
We especially enjoyed the Kettle chips topped with a balsamic reduction, blue cheese sauce, blue cheese crumbles, sautéed onions, green onions and bacon; Giant Pretzel with Beer Cheese; Bulgogi chicken wings; Bulgogi Tacos, Shrimp Tacos; Bourbon and Bacon Chicken Sandwich and the Blackened-Blue Burger.
4th Street offers indoor open-air seating as well as plenty of outdoor seating. We highly recommend sitting by the waterfall fountain in the lush, beautiful backyard-engulfed in tropical landscaping, which includes a hanging table under the 100 year old oak tree. Outdoor areas are pet-friendly so feel free to ask your server or bartender for a bowl of water for your furry friend.
Fan-favorite, Dixie Crossroads, has been serving great tasting ocean-caught seafood, char-grilled steaks, prime rib, chicken, fresh salads and their famous corn fritters since 1983. The menu features local shrimp and fish from Port Canaveral, Florida and ranges from low cost sandwiches and baskets to high-end seafood combos.
At first glance, the menu reminded us of the scene in Forrest Gump when Bubba describes all the ways shrimp can be prepared. Dixie Crossroads offers a variety of types of shrimp, including Rock Shrimp, cooked to perfection, that would make Bubba proud. The Coconut Shrimp is by far the best we’ve ever had- and we are huge fans of coconut shrimp! It didn’t even need a sauce. The fish was fresh and well-prepared as well.
Kids (and adults) enjoy feeding the fish and turtles from the bridge over the outside pond at Dixie Crossroads, which accommodates groups of any size. For groups of 20 or more, it is best to contact the booking department.
Please note that Nosh and 4th Street Fillin’ Station are right in Cocoa Beach, while Dixie Crossroads is located in Titusville- at close proximity to Merritt Island. It’s the perfect spot to dine before your bioluminescent kayak experience.