You’ve most probably heard of Cocoa Beach. You may have also heard of its friendly and welcoming community, deliciously surfable waves for both pros and novices. You’ve probably read about its stunning beaches and family-friendly atmosphere. And you most definitely know that Kennedy Space Center – a site the first journey to the moon took off from – is located nearby.
Well, that’s Cocoa Beach for you: the world renowned beach city of wonders, immensely beautiful landscapes, soft sand dunes, crystalline waters of the Atlantic and an iconic 800-foot-long pier that’s literally calling out for our cameras as we write this.
If you’re planning a trip to this little slice of heaven – and we don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t –, we thought we’d compile a meticulous list of all the attractions that call for your attention in Cocoa Beach.
So let us take you on a virtual tour of the best hidden gems in Cocoa Beach that you need to visit.
1. Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier
The well-known Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier isn’t exactly a hidden gem; not when it’s the most sought-out destination in the city, but it’s definitely still a gem and a must-see.
Westgate is a 800-foot-long pier stretching over the Atlantic Ocean, exposed to the majestic views of the open sea. The pier bustles with live entertainment, numerous bars and restaurants, and gift & accessory shops. It’s a place to have fun, socialize with friends and to take a break when the Cocoa Beach heat gets too much to handle.
Outdoor showers, beach rentals, volleyball playgrounds and unparalleled lifeguard services are available on the pier territory. It’s also considered to be situated over one of the best surfs on the East Coast that makes for a wonderful surfing experience for newbies and seasoned surfers alike.
2. Lori Wilson Park
Only an 8 minute drive away from Westgate, you’ll find Lori Wilson Park – one of the signature beaches of Cocoa Beach which for some reason is hugely underrated.
It is a gorgeous beachside park that makes for an ideal destination for a fulfilling beach day for you and your loved ones. Especially if you’re looking to have fun as a family. It’s great for a beachside picnic or just a stroll through nature. You can take a break from your walk every now and then to stop at the playground with your kids.
There you’ll also find a boardwalk, pavilions for group gatherings, a playground, a dog park (dogs are allowed strictly in dog parks only), volleyball court, restrooms and showers.
3. Ron Jon Surf Shop
Once you’re finished exploring Westgate and Lori Wilson Park and seen how everyone has the time of their life surfing, Ron Jon Surf Shop is where to head next – one of the biggest and most famous surf shops in the world. You may be thinking: “why would I even want to visit a surf shop?” But Ron Jon isn’t just a surf shop! The Cocoa Beach branch of Ron Jon is the company’s most important, “One of a Kind” branch, full of all things essential for beach-going, surfing, swimming, and skating.
And the vibes and aesthetics?! Immaculate!
Ron Jon Surf Shop is one of the most iconic destinations of Cocoa Beach, so even if you’re not a surfer, it is still a must-visit spot for all beachgoers and vacationers.
4. The Dinosaur Store
The Dinosaur Store is a massive building and one the most interesting destinations in Cocoa Beach. Not only does it consist of a gift store and The Adventure Zone but also the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures.
The Adventure Zone is a separate area of around 25 playing stations that turns kids feral (in the best sense, obviously!) It also features live reptiles that everyone can take a look at.
Their gift store consists of an array of jewelry, minerals, authentic fossils, minerals, meteorites, and more.
The museum is divided into 4 halls:
- Dinosaur Hall – it has exhibits from Devonian, Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras as well as skeletons and fossils.
- Mineral Cave – features crystals from all over the world.
- Dawn of Man – features exhibits from the Paleolithic: hominid skulls and tools.
- Birds of Prey – their recently added hall featuring a 10-minute-program about Phorusrhacos bird: its history, abilities, adaptation skills and emigration story.
The Dinosaur Store is a great place for kids to learn something new and interesting and have fun at the same time. It won’t leave anyone disappointed.
5. Rikki Tiki Tavern
Situated on the farthest end of the Cocoa Beach Pier and overlooking the mighty Atlantic Ocean is Rikki Tiki Tavern – a one of the most loved bar-restaurants in all of Cocoa Beach.
Just like the Westgate Pier itself, Rikki Tiki is not exactly a hidden spot either but it definitely is a gem, without which the exploration of Westgate Cocoa Beach pier wouldn’t be complete.
Rikki Tiki Tavern – with a thatched roof, your favorite drinks and meals and immaculate summer vibes – has incredible ocean views and stunning open air seating, both of which further elevate your dining experience.
Whenever you think that it’s time to take a break from the beach bustle, hit up Rikki Tiki for your well-deserved refreshment.
6. Escape Cocoa Beach
Puzzles, strategies, adrenaline rushes and scheming. Perhaps not the most well known beach-characteristics but if we’re talking about the lesser known gems of Cocoa Beach, then this is it!
Escape Cocoa Beach has been operating for a really long time and is known for its friendly and familial staffs’ – just like the city community itself – passion for what they do and unique approach to each of their games.
Most vacationers would understandably like to make the most of their days off and spend as much time on the beach as possible. Which is totally valid but there’s no better way to spend your late evening than by escaping the ordinary. Whether you like escape games or not, Escape Cocoa Beach is still a perfect spot to escape the beach–bar–beach–home routine and make some fun and unforgettable memories with your loved ones. It’s a great destination for kids and adults alike.
7. Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
Cape Canaveral located in Brevard County is a cape and a city famous for being the launch site of quite a few NASA projects such as Mercury and Gemini.
(Do not confuse Cape Canaveral with Kennedy Space Center, as close as they may be situated with each other, they’re two different establishments).
The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse has stood tall and mighty for around 150 years and still serves as an active means of navigation by the US Coast Guard. It has seen a lot of history as well as many getaways to space.
Visiting the lighthouse is possible. You just need to contact the facility and book a tour at least 3 days in advance. Just note that Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is built on an active military unit so you will not be permitted to drive your own vehicle there.
8. Cocoa Village
Historic Cocoa Village is a small town established in the 1890s, located 16 miles from Cocoa Beach.
Cocoa Village is a place where old meets new with aesthetically pleasing historical architecture that’ll transport you back in time, but with both cuisine and shopping that’s much more contemporary.
Take a tour of this beautiful, cobblestoned familial town and immerse yourself in its charm. Make sure to visit Cocoa Riverfront Park and have a stroll through all of its facilities.
9. Thousand Islands Conservation Area
Thousand Islands Conservation Area is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves a little bit of adventure and respects wildlife.
This conservation area stretches for 338 acres in The Indian River Lagoon, directly adjacent to Cocoa Beach and is made up of a collection of small islands. It houses a big variety of flora and fauna. There you’ll find a lot of endangered and rare plants, as well as wildlife like alligators, manatees, and storks.
The only way to get there is by boat or hiking the nature trail along Fourth Street South.
It’s the perfect destination to avoid the bustle and noise of the beach while admiring the beauty of nature. Due to how valuable Thousand Islands Conservation Area is, there’s a big list of things that are prohibited:
- Bringing dogs
- Motorized vehicles
- Removing plants, animals and any kind of natural resources
- Feeding, disturbing and harming wildlife in any way.
10. Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park
Murkshe Memorial Park is another lesser known gem – a beachside park perfect for a non-crowded getaway.
It’s also located in Brevard County and stretches on 2-acre sandy land directly exposed to the ocean. Despite its “hidden gem” status, it’s still very much loved and cherished by the locals. You’ll see local surfers here and there trying to catch a wave and just regular beach-goers having fun but you won’t be overwhelmed by crowds.
All the necessary amenities are present on site: restrooms, a small pavilion and a parking lot and a dune crossover for your comfort.
Unfortunately, pets are not allowed on the beach (does not include service animals) so you’ll have to leave your furry, four-legged family at home.
11. Fin Expeditions
If you’ve had enough of swimming for the day and want to try something different tomorrow, going kayaking with Fin Expeditions could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s an opportunity to see a different side of Cocoa Beach and have a scenic tour of Floridian greenery and beautiful flora.
Fin Expeditions is one of the top-rated kayaking facilities in the US. Their status combined with the coastal beauty of Florida guarantees everyone something absolutely unforgettable.
They have many kayaking and fishing tours with different themes like daytime kayak tours, sunset kayak tours or bioluminescence eco kayak tours. Rates vary but at the time of writing, they start at $49.
As one of the most sought-out destinations in Florida, it’s our duty to keep all these natural spots in Cocoa Beach pristine, follow Leave No Trace policies and not litter. A lot of these spots aren’t pet-friendly so make sure to follow that rule, otherwise take care of your pets accordingly.
The Final Takeaway
As you can see, the list of hidden gems in Cocoa Beach is quite long.
The city boasts many gems both hidden and seen in plain sight, which is exactly what makes it so unique and further highlights the fact that it’s the best destination for a beach vacation. The wonders of its wildlife, the charm of a small town, an escape from the beach noise and crowdless hideaways – all can be found in Cocoa Beach. So start planning, sort through your preferences and have fun!
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about tourist destinations, sometimes life happens, weather happens, property owners happen, etc. We always recommend you go to the official web page and/or the relevant state authority page of your destination to check conditions, times and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!