Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge... Paddling at Florida's Space Coast
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1963 as part of the development of Canaveral (John F. Kennedy) Space Center, consists of 140,000 acres including coastal dunes, marshes, scrub, pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks that provide habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. Paddling along the Indian River Lagoon at the Refuge provides an unparalleled view of unspoiled natural habitat and wildlife including an occasional alligator or dolphin. (Detailed map and photos below).
There are several public access roads to launch onto the Indian River or Mosquito Lagoons, the best areas for paddling to avoid motorboats. Our favorite area to paddle is the Indian River, launching from Shiloh Marsh Road - a 12-mile unpaved road paralleling the Indian River (closed during waterfowl hunting season, November 1-February 15, and from time-to-time for maintenance.) Other areas to explore include Dummitts Cove and Eddy Creek. Note that except by permit during waterfowl hunting season, canoeing and kayaking are not permitted in refuge impoundments. High winds and tides can create difficult paddling conditions.
Canaveral National Seashore lies to the north and east, more paddling is available. In the summer months, bioluminescence is an interesting phenomenon and several outfitters offer tours. Marine life have developed the ability to use chemicals within their bodies to produce light, visible at night.
Also visit us here: Bicycling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
More information on paddling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe