Florida’s Space Coast Overview & History
Florida’s Space Coast is bordered by the First Coast to the North and the Treasure Coast to the South, and is appropriately named for the extensive presence of NASA and space related activities of the Canaveral area. Many may be unaware that it is also home to some of the best unspoiled natural habitat areas found in the Eastern coastal areas of the state. Frequent visitors to the area may be familiar with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which encircles the Kennedy Space Center, and provides developmental buffer for the numerous space related activities conducted there. This refuge includes a wide variety of nature related activity opportunities for almost any naturalist or other outdoor recreational interest.
Close at hand for those visiting the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, is the Canaveral National Seashore, which extends from the northern tip of the Kennedy Space Center, to the southern tip of New Smyrna Beach (see: map of Canaveral National Seashore). This quiet, unspoiled coastal section of the state is divided into two sections: Playalinda Beach to the South, and Apollo Beach to the North. There is no roadway directly connecting the areas, so those seeking to explore both areas will need to travel from one park entrance through several small towns to reach the other park entrance. Both beach destinations are accessed by means of the Canaveral National Seashore National Parks, which assesses a small daily use fee for those who do not possess a park pass.
Travel through and enjoyment of recreational activities for most of the refuge and national seashore areas is free of charge with the exception of the beach access areas, Black Point Wildlife Drive and some of the recently improved boat launch facilities. Visitors to any of these fee access areas should check with park personnel to determine if the daily use fee includes additional destinations they may plan to visit in the same day.
In addition to the expansive Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, visitors to Florida’s Space Coast will find that the area enjoys abundant beach access all along scenic route A1A from Port Canaveral to Sebastian Inlet where the Space Coast adjoins the Treasure Coast section of Florida. Most public parking areas are free of charge, and many offer well maintained basic beach facilities. The beach access locations without toilet or shower facilities are usually just a short drive from one which does.
An added advantage to those wishing to experience some of the recreational opportunities near the shore in the Florida Space Coast, is that this coastal area has ready access from major highways without having to navigate large city traffic congestion. Travel down Route 1 or scenic A1A, and you are always just a step away from nature, while seldom waiting in traffic.
Located only an hour drive east of Orlando, Florida’s Space Coast offers out-of-this-world nature experience options in unique ecosystems near the Atlantic Ocean. Boundless opportunities await along the beach and coastal areas in what often still remains undeveloped and natural public land. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy ecotourism getaways including: birding, photography, kayaking, canoeing, quiet night star gazing, and wildlife observation of some of the most unique Florida residents.