The Canaveral National Seashore is one of Florida's great treasures, and some 1 million people come to enjoy it every year. The pristine Canaveral National Seashore beaches are what attract most visitors, though hanging out on the sand isn't the extent of what you can do here. Wildlife viewing, canoeing, and hiking are just some of the other things that you can do at the Canaveral National Seashore, and breaking for a picnic during your visit is recommended. For those who don't want to leave when the park closes at night, which is understandable, camping at Canaveral National Seashore is a good way to go.
The Canaveral National Seashore is situated on a long and thin barrier island off Florida's eastern coast. To the north of it lies New Smyrna Beach, and to the near south is Titusville. One of the more interesting things about the island on which the park is found is the fact that its southern end is occupied by the John F. Kennedy Space Center, which is one of Florida's best attractions. From time to time, access to the Canaveral National Seashore is restricted when launch-related activities are going on at the Kennedy Space Center. Otherwise, the park is open every day of the year. In winter, the hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. During summer, the park closes two hours later. Generally, the rainy season lasts from May to October, and this is when the mosquito levels go up, so bring your bug repellent. As for the dry season, it covers the remaining months of the year and sees an increased bird presence. As such, this the time to visit when birding is what you have in mind.
The dry season at the Canaveral National Seashore, which runs from November to April, is arguably the best time to visit if you want to go camping, hiking, or canoeing in the park. Should you be looking to spend some quality time on the Canaveral National Seashore beaches, however, the warmer rainy season is a better time to come. Even though the visitor numbers go up in the summertime especially, the beaches here still stay relatively uncrowded. Whether you're based in nearby Daytona Beach or taking up temporary residence a bit further off in Orlando, the Canaveral National Seashore beaches can provide a refuge of sorts from the bustle of city life.
The beaches at the Canaveral National Seashore actually link together to form one long beach that is 24 miles long. This extended beach is the longest undeveloped beach on Florida's east coast, and its southern end is known as Playalinda Beach. For those who are interested in doing some Daytona Beach area surfing, Playalinda Beach is a good place to go. While nudity is prohibited on the Canaveral National Seashore beaches, the northernmost part of Playalinda does see nudist activity on occasion. Just north of Playalinda Beach is Klondike Beach, which is actually designated as a backcountry area. This means that you'll have to get a special permit to access it. Klondike Beach is the beach for you if you want to escape the summer crowds, as only 50 people are allowed to access it on any given day. The cost for a backcountry permit at Canaveral National Seashore, much like the general entrance fees, is low.
Heading north of Klondike Beach, you will find Apollo Beach, which like the other two beaches, is undeveloped. Restrooms and parking areas are about the extent of the beach development here, so you won't enjoy easy access to any phones, food concessions, fresh water, or picnic areas. Alcoholic beverages are allowed on the Canaveral National Seashore, though glass containers are not.
As for those who want to go camping at Canaveral National Seashore, the campsites are also relatively undeveloped. There is no frontcountry camping here, which means that you'll have to find a spot in the backcountry. Backcountry beach camping at Canaveral National Seashore is possible between November 1 and April 30. From May 1 to October 31, backcountry beach camping is prohibited, which aims to protect the sea turtles that nest on the island during this period. In addition to camping on the beach, you can also camp on Mosquito Lagoon, which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway that separates the island from the Florida mainland.
In addition to hanging out at the beach and going camping, other things that you can do at Canaveral National Seashore include surf fishing, enjoying scenic drives on the Black Point Wildlife Drive, and visiting Turtle Mound. Like the Tomoka Mounds and Middens, which can be found north of Daytona Beach in Ormond Beach, Turtle Mound is a remnant of the Native Americans who once called the region home. Standing 40 feet tall, Turtle Mound, which is a mound of shells and other refuse, is the tallest shell midden in the entire country!
Top image: brx0 (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0