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Reported: Oct. 2014

Cocoa Beach... Paddling the 1000 Islands of Central Florida

Paddle through saltwater marsh and mangrove at 1000 Islands Conservation Area at Cocoa Beach. The 338-acre preserve along the Banana River is accessed from Ramp Road west of A1A and south of Minuteman Causeway. This is a great getaway just minutes from the tourist and commercial center of Cocoa Beach. If you want to paddle through mangrove tunnels, no need to travel to The Everglades - here is the most extensive network of mangrove tunnels we’ve seen in Florida. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: Various
Location: Brevard County (Cocoa Beach)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Ramp Road, Cocoa Beach (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Cocoa Beach (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Once developed for mosquito control but now protected and undergoing restoration, the area is perfect for paddling - around the islands and in and out of the many mangrove tunnels. The whole experience was delightfully random, there is no marked trail but we never felt that we were lost or unable to find our way out.

Ramp Road Park has parking, restroom, picnic tables, a boardwalk, and two boat ramps - one for larger motorboats and a smaller launch perfect for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.

Wildlife include wading birds, eagles, ospreys. Fishing is popular here. Dolphins and manatee can be seen depending on the season, but we did not see any.

Paddling at Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
 On our first trip, we entered the islands along a channel directly across from the larger ramp at Ramp Road, meandering through tunnels, up and down channels, to dead ends and back. We recommend paddling this section for the shade and scenic mangrove tunnels.
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Launching the kayaks at Ramp Road Park From Ramp Road Park toward Banana River
Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe
Some tunnels were so narrow it was easier to push our way through Great blue heron Onto one of the wider channels Exiting back to Ramp Road Park
On our second trip, we paddled south onto the Banana River and then up and down channels. In this section, there were fewer mangrove tunnels and more big water with motor boats. We found the first paddle (above) to be more relaxing and fun.
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Paddle boarder Adventure Kayak tour starting out Big water on Banana River
Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe Paddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, CanoePaddle Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands - Kayak, Canoe
Ibis Mangrove Osprey More motor boats here

More information (opens in a new window):

- Brevard County - 1000 Islands Conservation Area

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Cocoa Beach - 1000 Islands

Outfitters/Rentals

A1A Beach Rentals

Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach

Fin Expeditions


Support and Advocacy

Friends of the Thousand Islands Sanctuary


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