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Trip report: July 2020

Cocoa Beach Kayaking... 1000 Islands Area

Paddling Through Mangrove Tunnels in Central Florida

Paddle through saltwater marsh and mangrove at 1000 Islands Conservation Area at Cocoa Beach. The 338-acre preserve along the Banana River is accessed from Ramp Road west of A1A and south of Minuteman Causeway. This is a great getaway just minutes from the tourist and commercial center of Cocoa Beach. If you want to paddle through mangrove tunnels, no need to travel to The Everglades - here is one of the most extensive network of mangrove tunnels we’ve seen in Florida! (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Cocoa Beach,
		    1000 Islands

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Cocoa Beach, 1000 Islands Area

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Distance: Varies
Location: Brevard County (Cocoa Beach)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Ramp Road, Cocoa Beach (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge


A1A Beach Rentals (rentals, tours)
Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach (tours)
Cocoa Kayaking (rentals, tours)
Fin Expeditions (tours)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of the Thousand Islands Sanctuary

 Page Summary:

  1. Paddling at Cocoa/1000 Islands
    - Launch at Ramp Road Park
    - Trip 1: Mangrove Channels
    - Trip 2: Banana River
  2. More Information and Resources

Paddling at Cocoa/1000 Islands... Comments and Photos

Once developed for mosquito control but now protected and undergoing restoration, the area is perfect for paddling - around the islands and in and out of the many mangrove tunnels. The whole experience was delightfully random, there is no marked trail but we never felt that we were lost or unable to find our way out.

Wildlife include wading birds, eagles, ospreys. Fishing is popular here. Dolphins and manatee can be seen depending on the season, but we did not see any.

Launch at Ramp Road Park

Ramp Road Park has parking, restroom, picnic tables, a boardwalk, playground, and two boat ramps - one for larger motorboats and a smaller launch perfect for hand-launching kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. (Updated: July 2020)

Trip 1 - Mangrove Channels

On our first trip, after launching at Ramp Road Park we entered the islands along a channel directly across from the larger ramp at Ramp Road, the trail meanders through mangrove tunnels, up and down channels, to dead ends and back. Some tunnels were so narrow it was easier to push our way through. We recommend paddling this section for the shady tunnels. (Trip report: October 2014)

Trip 2 - Banana River

On our second trip, we paddled south onto the Banana River and then up and down channels. In this section, there were fewer mangrove tunnels and more big water with motor boats. We found the first paddle (above) to be more enjoyable. (Trip report: October 2014)

More Information and Resources

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