Orlando to Cocoa Beach: Essential Travel Tips, Must-See Spots & Day Trip Ideas


Are you currently having a blast at the amazing theme parks in Orlando and thinking, “What else can I squeeze into this epic Florida trip?” As a seasoned explorer of all the Sunshine State has to offer, let me guide you on a fantastic detour to the nearest beach – Cocoa Beach! πŸ–οΈ

Whether you’re exploring the magic with Mickey at Disney 🏰, embarking on thrilling adventures at Universal 🎒, or splashing around in the world of aquatic wonders at SeaWorld 🐬, a trip to Cocoa Beach is the perfect way to mix things up! And the best part? It’s just an hour’s drive from Orlando! πŸš—

In this friendly guide, we’ll chat about how to zip over to Cocoa Beach and back, making it an ideal day trip.

We’ll explore everything from taking a scenic drive πŸ›£οΈ, hopping in an Uber for a quick ride πŸ“±, to maybe even catching a shuttle 🚌 – all the while ensuring your journey is as breezy as the beach itself.

Plus, I’ll share some personal recommendations for can’t-miss stops in and around Cocoa Beach and tips for packing in a full day of beachy fun πŸ–οΈπŸŒž.

Distance from Orlando to Cocoa Beach

The distance from Orlando to Cocoa Beach is approximately 60 miles (97 kilometers).

The journey typically takes around an hour to an hour and a half by car, depending on traffic and the specific starting point in Orlando. This relatively short drive makes Cocoa Beach a very accessible destination for those staying in or around Orlando, Kissimmee, and Lake Buena Vista.

Is it Worth Going to Cocoa Beach?

My answer is “Yes!” Especially if you’re itching for a beach break. Here’s why Cocoa Beach is a top pick:

A bustling day at Cocoa Beach with visitors enjoying the sun and sea, showcasing a typical beach scene for those traveling from Orlando to Cocoa Beach.
  • Ultimate Beach Day 🌞: Imagine trading those theme park queues for a relaxing day by the sea. Cocoa Beach is the spot for sunbathing, splashing in the waves, and simply unwinding.
  • Surf’s Calling πŸ„β€β™€οΈ: With its reputation as the surf capital of the East Coast, Cocoa Beach is ideal for catching some waves, whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at surfing.
  • Space Exploration Nearby πŸš€: Don’t miss the Kennedy Space Center, a hop, skip, and a jump away. It’s a fascinating detour for anyone interested in space and the stars.
  • Chill Vibes Galore 😌: The laid-back atmosphere of Cocoa Beach is the perfect antidote to the bustling energy of Orlando’s theme parks. It’s your chance to slow down and relax.
  • The Perfect Distance πŸš—: Just about an hour’s drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is close enough for convenience yet far enough to feel like a true getaway. It’s the ideal spot for a quick and enjoyable road trip.
  • Food and Shopping Delights πŸ½οΈπŸ›οΈ: You’ll find a variety of dining options to satisfy your cravings, plus shops for a little retail therapy.
  • Nature’s Marvels 🐬: Keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife, including dolphins and sea turtles – it’s a nature lover’s treat.

How to Get to Cocoa Beach

Alright, so you’re ready to trade those theme park thrills for some beachside chills at Cocoa Beach? Great choice! Now, the big question – how do you get there? No worries, I’ve got you covered.

Whether you love the idea of a road trip, prefer the ease of a ride service, or are looking for a more budget-friendly travel option, there’s a way for everyone to make this journey. Let’s dive into the best options to get you from the heart of Orlando to the sandy shores of Cocoa Beach:

A colorful signpost at Cocoa Beach with directional arrows pointing to various destinations including 'Orlando - 59 mi', a playful wayfinder for travelers making the trip from Orlando to Cocoa Beach.

If you’re the type who enjoys the open road, then driving from Orlando to Cocoa Beach is a fantastic choice. It’s straightforward and flexible, and you get to be the master of your own itinerary. Here’s what you need to know:

Route: The most direct route is via FL-528 E, commonly known as the Beachline Expressway. It’s a pretty smooth drive and, bonus points, it offers some nice views along the way. The distance is around 60 miles, and you’ll be looking at about an hour’s drive, depending on traffic.

What to Expect: As you leave Orlando, you’ll see the landscape change from bustling city to serene coastal scenes. Keep an eye out for interesting spots to pull over; maybe grab a photo or just stretch your legs.

Tolls: Yes, there are tolls on this route. Make sure you have some cash or a SunPass, as the toll booths don’t always accept credit cards. The cost isn’t too high, but it’s always good to be prepared.

Parking in Cocoa Beach: Once you get to Cocoa Beach, you’ll find plenty of parking options. There are public parking lots close to the beach, but during peak times, they can fill up quickly. Bring some change for parking meters, just in case.

Why Drive?: The best part about driving is the freedom it offers. Want to stop at a quirky roadside attraction? Go for it. Fancy a detour for some local eats? You’re in control. Plus, if you’ve got beach gear like umbrellas, coolers, or surfboards, having your car makes it super easy to bring all your beach essentials.

πŸš— NEED TO RENT A CAR? Be sure to check out DISCOVER CARS to find the best rental car prices!!

Taking an Uber to Cocoa Beach from Orlando is all about convenience and comfort. If you’re not into driving or don’t have access to a car, this option is a breeze. Here’s what you need to know about catching an Uber:

Ease of Use: Simply open your Uber app, punch in your destination, and voilΓ  – your ride is on its way. It’s especially handy if you’re staying near popular tourist areas or the airport.

Cost Factor: The cost of an Uber ride can vary depending on the time of day and demand. During off-peak hours, it might be more affordable, but prices can go up during busy times. It’s a good idea to check the fare estimate in the app before booking.

Travel Time: Just like driving, the trip will take about an hour, give or take, depending on traffic. The best part? You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride without worrying about navigating or parking.

Luggage and Gear: If you’re traveling with luggage or beach gear, consider requesting an UberXL for extra space. It’s a bit pricier, but you’ll appreciate the comfort, especially if you’ve got a surfboard in tow!

Pickup Locations: Uber is widely available in Orlando, so you can get a ride from pretty much anywhere – hotels, theme parks, the airport, you name it.

Why Uber?: It’s perfect for those who want a hassle-free trip. No need to stress about routes, parking, or tolls – your driver handles all of that. Plus, you can use your travel time to plan your beach day, catch up on emails, or just gaze out the window.

Taking a shuttle from Orlando to Cocoa Beach is a great option if you’re looking for comfort without the hassle of driving. There are quite a few shuttle services available, making it easy to find one that suits your schedule and budget. Here are a few to consider:

  • Cocoa Beach Shuttle: Known for its professional service, Cocoa Beach Shuttle connects Orlando International Airport, Port Canaveral, and the Cocoa Beach area. They offer a variety of options, including door-to-door service. For reservations and more information, visit their website at Cocoa Beach Shuttle.
  • Port Canaveral Quick Shuttle: This service provides shuttles from Orlando to Cocoa Beach, with options for both airport and hotel pickups. They’re a solid choice for those heading to the Port Canaveral area as well. Check out their services at Port Canaveral Quick Shuttle.
  • Cocoa Beach Express: Offering 24/7 transportation, Cocoa Beach Express is known for its reliable and safe service. They cater to a wide range of transportation needs, including pets! For details, visit Cocoa Beach Express.

The average cost for these shuttle services is around $50-60 per person, making it a cost-effective and convenient option, especially if you’re not keen on driving. Remember to book in advance, as these services can be quite popular, especially during peak travel seasons.

Must-See Destinations In and Around Cocoa Beach

Once you arrive in Cocoa Beach, you’ll find that it’s more than just a beautiful beach. This area is rich in attractions and activities that cater to all kinds of interests. Here are some must-see destinations to check out:

A visit to Cocoa Beach isn’t complete without strolling down the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier. Stretching out into the Atlantic, it offers great views, charming shops, and seafood restaurants. You might even catch some surfers in action!

The entrance to the Cocoa Beach Pier with a bright sign welcoming visitors, indicating the variety of attractions including restaurants, bars, shops, and fishing.

The Ron Jon Surf Shop is a landmark in Cocoa Beach.πŸ„β€β™€οΈ 🌊 In fact it is known as the World’s Largest Surf Shop. Even if you’re not planning to hit the waves, the shop is worth a visit for its vast selection of beach gear, souvenirs, and surf-inspired fashion.

Ethan holds up a colorful Ron Jon Surf Shop branded skimboard, capturing the excitement of shopping for beach gear during a visit to Cocoa Beach.

Just a short drive from Cocoa Beach, the Kennedy Space Center is a must for anyone fascinated by space exploration. πŸš€ It’s an educational and inspirational experience with exhibits on the history and future of space travel. My family loves the Kennedy Space Center and yes, it’s very family-friendly!

A vibrant display of historic rockets under a clear blue sky at Kennedy Space Center near Cocoa Beach.  This is a popular attraction for visitors traveling from Orlando to Cocoa Beach.

For a relaxing day, head to Lori Wilson Park. It offers free parking, beach access, and a beautiful setting for picnicking or just lounging on the beach.

A serene sunrise view from a wooden boardwalk leading to the beach at Cocoa Beach.

For something a little different, check out The Dinosaur Store & Museum. It’s an intriguing place featuring fossils, dinosaur replicas, and interactive exhibits, making it fun for both kids and adults. πŸ¦• πŸ¦–

A short drive from Cocoa Beach, the Brevard Zoo offers a unique zoo experience with kayak tours around the animal exhibits and a variety of interactive encounters with wildlife. 🦍 🐘

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral! It’s a fantastic place where you can get some of the best views around. Imagine standing on the observation decks and taking in the sweeping vistas of the port, the Kennedy Space Center, and maybe even witnessing a spectacular rocket launch.

A sweeping aerial view of Port Canaveral, featuring the distinctive architecture of the Exploration Tower in the background, with its lush greenery and the serene blue waters.

The Tower is also a hub of interactive fun. It’s filled with exhibits that take you through the local history, both maritime and space-related, and introduce you to the diverse ecosystems of the area. Fancy testing your skills? Try out their simulators for a bit of interactive excitement.

There’s an auditorium too, where you can catch educational films that are as enlightening as they are entertaining. When you’re ready for a break, the cafΓ© is the perfect spot to relax and grab a bite.

Day Trip to Cocoa Beach from Orlando

Thinking of taking a day trip to Cocoa Beach? It’s a fantastic way to add some beachside relaxation to your vacation. Here’s how you can make the most out of your day, with a mix of sun, surf, and local charm:

View from the Cocoa Beach Pier with swimmers and surfers enjoying the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Morning: Hit the Road Early

  • Start your day early to make the most of it. Leaving Orlando by 8 AM gets you to Cocoa Beach just in time to catch the beautiful morning light on the beach.
  • Grab a quick breakfast in Orlando or plan for a breakfast stop along the way.

Mid-Morning: Beach Time

  • Head straight to the beach to enjoy the softer morning sun. Cocoa Beach is known for its beautiful sandy shores and excellent surfing conditions.
  • If you’re into surfing, consider renting a surfboard or taking a quick lesson at one of the surf schools.

Lunch: Local Flavors

  • Around noon, take a break from the sun and head to one of the local restaurants. Cocoa Beach has plenty of options, whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or a casual beachfront cafe.

Afternoon: Explore the Area

  • After lunch, explore the Cocoa Beach Pier, a perfect place for a leisurely stroll and some souvenir shopping.
  • Visit Ron Jon Surf Shop, a Cocoa Beach icon, for some unique finds.

Late Afternoon: Relax or More Beach Time

  • Spend the late afternoon relaxing on the beach, or if you’re up for more adventure, check out Lori Wilson Park for a nature walk.

Evening: Sunset and Dinner

  • Wrap up your day by watching the sunset at the beach or from one of the waterfront restaurants.
  • Enjoy a nice dinner in Cocoa Beach. There are options for every taste and budget, from upscale eateries to relaxed beach bars.

Night: Head Back to Orlando

  • After dinner, start your journey back to Orlando. If you leave by 8 or 9 PM, you’ll be back before it gets too late, ready to recount the day’s adventures.

Thinking Cocoa Beach might not be the beach for you? No worries, check out 11 Best Beaches Near Disney World & How to Choose the Perfect One for more options!!


Kim and Chris, standing together on the Cocoa Beach Pier with a bustling beach scene in the background, highlighting the lively atmosphere and beachgoer enjoyment.

Can you get around Cocoa Beach without a car?

Having a car in Cocoa Beach is best, but it’s definitely doable without. You can rent bikes for leisurely exploration. Walking is a great option too, especially if you’re staying near the main beach areas. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available for quick and convenient travel. Some places even offer golf cart rentals, adding a fun twist to short trips.

Can you swim in the ocean at Cocoa Beach?

Swimming in the ocean at Cocoa Beach is definitely a go-to activity for visitors and locals alike. While it’s a popular destination for surfing, the beach also offers great spots for swimming. When you’re there, make sure to look out for safety flags that indicate current swimming conditions and always try to swim in areas where lifeguards are present for added safety.

Is Cocoa Beach crowded?

Cocoa Beach can vary in terms of crowds. Peak times like summer and spring break often see it bustling with visitors, especially near popular spots like the pier and during special events. If you prefer a quieter experience, try visiting during off-peak seasons or on weekdays. The beach is long, so exploring less crowded sections is also a good option for more tranquility.

Is Cocoa Beach water clear?

The clarity of the water at Cocoa Beach can vary and is generally not as clear as the waters you might find in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, or South Florida. Factors like weather, tides, and nearby river outflows can affect water clarity. On calm days, the water can be relatively clear, but it tends to be more turbid compared to beaches further south in Florida. The Atlantic waters here are more known for their waves and surf conditions rather than crystal-clear visibility.

If you are looking for the best clear water beaches in Florida, be sure to check out 25 Best Beaches with Clear Water in Florida!

The Wrap-Up

Silhouettes of palm trees against a vibrant sunset sky over the calm waters, offering a tranquil scene that captures the essence of a peaceful evening in Cocoa Beach.

And just like that, we’ve zoomed through everything you need to know about darting from Orlando to the sunny stretches of Cocoa Beach πŸ–οΈ. Whether it’s a spontaneous day trip πŸš— or a chill mini-vacay 🌴 you’re after, Cocoa Beach is the perfect spot to add a splash of ocean bliss 🌊 to your Orlando stay.

Getting there is a breeze, whether you drive yourself πŸš™, hop into an Uber πŸ“±, or join a shuttle group 🚌.

Once you hit Cocoa Beach, it’s all about sun 🌞, surf πŸ„, and laid-back vibes 😎. Picture yourself lounging on the beach, dipping your toes in the water, or even trying your hand at surfing. And let’s not forget the local eats 🍽️ and cool spots like the Cocoa Beach Pier 🎒 or the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop πŸ›οΈ. There’s a little something for everyone!

So, what’s the bottom line? A trip to Cocoa Beach is a no-brainer when you’re in Orlando. It’s the perfect contrast to the thrilling rides and fairy-tale magic 🎠 of the theme parks. It’s all about swapping those fast-paced park days for some chill beach time πŸ–οΈ.

Ready to make some waves? Pack your beach bag πŸ‘œ, grab your shades 😎, and let Cocoa Beach be your sunny escape from the city πŸŒ‡. Trust me, it’s a slice of Florida you won’t want to miss. 🌴