Merritt Island is an amazing place for a vacation or for a long-term stay, however, it’s not directly on the coastline. When the hot season of Florida rolls around you’ll be longing for the cooling waves so we’ve put together this list of the best beaches near Merritt Island.
Most of the beaches are easily accessible with a short drive. You are right next to Cape Canaveral so you may even catch some rocket launches along with your beach time. It’s a nice place that’s full of amazing beaches so let’s get this list started!
Of course, as always we mention a rough estimation of the driving time and provide you a Google Maps link to easily find these places.
1. Peacock Beach
Distance: 10 miles – 20 minutes
Let’s start our list with Peacock Beach which is simply our favorite secluded beach in the area. We’ve already featured this one in other articles as well and we’ll keep recommending it as we love this place.
It’s kind of a hidden beach which means usually no crowds except for the peacocks. Yes, there are peacocks here hence the name so if you have peacocks then definitely not for you.
If you don’t mind the birds though then you can explore one of the best natural beaches in this part of Florida. No crowds, great waves, sunshine, and clean sand. No wonder we consider this among the top beaches near Merritt Island.
Do note though that parking is limited and there is no toilet or shower on this beach. It’s without facilities.
2. Cocoa Beach
Distance: 7 miles – 15 minutes
Cocoa Beach is actually the closest ocean beach to Merritt Island. It’s a very popular beach among tourists and it’s usually pretty crowded.
Regardless the actual beach area is huge so even when it has the crowds you will still find a place to settle down and enjoy the sun.
The focus on tourism means that you’ll find plenty of restaurants nearby and even the historic Pier that extends onto the ocean.
Cocoa Beach is one of the nicest big beaches around and the vicinity to Merritt Island makes it easy to recommend.
3. PLAYALINDA Beach
Distance: 40 miles – 1 hour
Playalinda Beach is well known for being the best place to view rocket launches. Not only it’s great for that but it’s also inside a national park making it one of the most rural beaches on this list.
It’s an excellent place if you want to get away from the crowds and the bustle of city life. You’ll only find wildlife, grasslands, and sand dunes here.
This place is not actually just one beach but a series of beaches that dot the shore. If you feel that some of them are too crowded you can just drive up to the next one down the road to find the perfect secluded spot.
Do note that Playalinda Beach also has the only clothing-optional beach in this area. The beach that’s accessible from parking lot 13 is the clothing-optional beach. If it’s not your jazz then you should know this to avoid accidentally ending up here.
4. Melbourne Beach
Distance: 30 miles – 45 minutes
Melbourne Beach is a huge beach near Merritt Island. It’s actually one of the biggest on the list when it comes to the sheer size. It’s a city beach but unlike most city beaches there is no boardwalk.
Instead, the shore is lined with holiday homes and there are 5 public access points where you can park and enter the beach if you are coming out of town.
These public access points have limited parking so you should arrive in time but this also means there are usually no crowds here. The limited parking spots combined with the spacious beach area make for quite an uncrowded place.
This is great for those who want to stay on a city beach but don’t like the crowds that much. When it comes to food though the options are very limited. We recommend that you bring your own food and drinks to the beach.
Keep in mind that currents can be strong on this beach. Make sure to keep your eyes on your children and even if you are a good swimmer stay near the shore.
5. Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
Distance: 70 miles – 1 hour 25 minutes
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park is a nice beach well-known to locals. Most of the time tourists skip over this place and it’s exactly why we love it.
We come here when we want to be among the locals and avoid other tourists. There isn’t a lot going on in the area, with limited restaurants and bars, so bring your own food.
However, this small beach is perfect for laying out in the sun and enjoying the water. It’s definitely one of the most unassuming beaches near Merritt Island, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
6. New Smyrna Beach
Distance: 65 miles – 1 hour 10 minutes
New Smyrna Beach is an exciting tourist destination with miles upon miles of beautiful sandy beach. It’s an excellent place to enjoy the pleasant Florida weather and it’s quite easily reachable from Merritt Island.
Apart from the beach the town of New Smyrna Beach hosts various events throughout the year that attract visitors to the area.
We’ve found the sand to be extremely clear and the area to be beautiful here. You’ll mostly find apartments on the shore with a limited number of restaurants.
It’s a great place even though it’s a bit far. When you spend the whole day here then the one-hour drive will feel much less daunting.
7. Daytona Beach
Distance: 75 miles – 1 hour 20 minutes
Finally, you also have Daytona Beach nearby. It’s one of the most famous beaches on this stretch of the coast. The main feature is of course being able to drive onto the beach so if you’ve got a 4×4 then it’s definitely a unique experience.
Needless to say, Daytona Beach is usually full of travelers so it’s a busy place. You also have the Daytona Pier and Boardwalk both of which are full of life. It’s a good place if you want to enjoy a busy day full of interesting attractions and great restaurants.
As for the beach itself, it’s ok. Definitely not the most beautiful around, but with the 4x4s driving on the sand and the spectacle that is Daytona Beach you get an interesting atmosphere.
Merritt Island Beaches – FAQ
Yes, you can reach numerous beaches with just a short drive.
Yes, it’s excellent, there are plenty of beaches and things to do nearby.