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Canaveral National Seashore - An All-Natural Beach

While visiting the Titusville, Florida area or anywhere nearby, take the drive to the Canaveral National Seashore and Playalinda Beach. Enjoy the attractions of an all natural 24-mile stretch of beach that is pristine and will be kept so for future generations. No condos, no hotels - just open beaches.

Plan your activities well and before going to the Seashore, check with the local authorities there. During times of national security and space shuttle launches, Playalinda Beach and Canaveral National Seashore will be closed. Although the NASA property is closely guarded, no chances are taken. Most days you can travel to the seashore, but itís a long (12 miles or so) drive if you find it closed!

From Titusville, take State Road 406 which is toward the northern end of Titusvilleís downtown. Turn east and you will begin to cross the Indian River. You may have to wait for the old-style drawbridge which rotates to allow boats to pass. Itís quite a treat to watch, if you do happen to encounter it opening or closing.

The road will turn somewhat east-northeast and you will begin crossing Merritt Islandís northern portion of the Merritt Island Wildlife refuge. The landscape is true, natural Florida. Watch for possible wildlife crossing the road. You may spot an osprey, a large bird of prey that looks similar to an eagle, sitting atop a dead tree or utility pole. If you happen to see a large bird nest balanced on top of a pole or dead tree, you can be certain it belongs to an osprey. They build large structures of stems, branches, cloth, and other objects and somehow manage to have it balance perfectly atop a pole. If you see metal poles with square flat tops, these are to encourage the osprey to nest on these areas and avoid the utility poles.

The road will turn back to ďdue eastĒ and you will see signs directing you to Playalinda Beach. Be sure to watch the signs because to the south is Kennedy Space Center and you do not want to try to enter their security gate. If you do, theyíll politely ask you to turn around, and provide correct directions. Continue until you see the Playalinda Beach signs and you will be turning left into the main parking area. Since the beach is 24 miles in length, there are parking areas all along the 24 miles. Restroom facilities are available at the snack bar and port-o-let facilities are available in every parking lot along the beach.

A word of warning: it is commonly know in Brevard County and surrounding areas that nude sunbathers go to the very last parking lot to the north and then walk about a mile further north for sun bathing and swimming without clothes. While it is illegal, it is difficult to control. If you have children, stop somewhere in mid-park or to the south and simply avoid this area. The nude sunbathers never venture out of their area; if you donít go looking for them, they will not bother you in any way.

Near the park entrance is a snack bar for snacks and soft drinks. Please remember when visiting any beach, but especially on this rare is pristine beach, leave only your footsteps; take only a few small seashells.

The dune line is rather tall in the Canaveral Seashore area because development has not encroached and caused erosion. Crosswalks to cross the dune line are provided at each parking area. Many are handicap accessible. Remember, do not pick any flowers, grasses, or plants that appear on the dune line. The fines for doing so can be very, very large. A single sea oat head can cost you $1,000 in fines plus court costs!!

As you cross onto the wide beach, the clear air, clean sand, and lack of buildings provides a feeling unlike any beach Iíve ever encountered. It feels like the 1800ís when Florida was natural and very few people lived on the beaches. No one lived in high rise condos!

The sand is wide and clean. The water tends to have good waves, depending on the weather. There will be undertow warnings posted if there are undertows currently being experienced. Heed these warnings! The water can pull you so hard you canít swim out of it. Since Kennedy Space Center is to the south and the currents run south, there will be no one to notice you and provide help! Undertows are serious business.

Dolphin can be seen playing in the water sometimes. Brown pelicans, terns, gulls, black skimmers, and great white egrets are commonly seen avian residents of the area. The beach here, because it is remote and strictly controlled, provides one of the best loggerhead turtle nesting areas remaining.

Your view to the north will be open beach as far as you can see. The view to the south will include Kennedy Space Center and the Space Shuttle launch pads.

The park hours are daytime only, closing at sundown, except on days when closed for Shuttle launches when the park will not be opened at all. The park rangers patrol the beach and parking areas constantly so it is a safe retreat for you and your family.

Enjoy the small areas of natural Florida that are remaining! This is one of the very best all-natural spots remaining - donít miss it!

 

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