Located on the same strip of land as the Kennedy Space Center, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was created as a way to protect the ecosystem and creatures that call it home. The 140,000 acres include over 1,000 species of plants, over 100 species of fish, over 300 species of birds, and 31 mammal species.
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What to Expect from a Merritt Island Tour
As a part of my Ultimate Florida Road Trip, I drove from my hotel in Cocoa Beach down the dark dirt roads to the boat landing in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I had already spent the morning stand-up paddleboarding, so I thought I may as well continue the momentum. I met up with the folks from A Day Away tours, who had already set up the kayaks in preparation for our sunset tour.
I paddled solo, while there were two other tandem boats. We were equipped with lifejackets and all the necessary gear. The tour lasted two hours, during which we paddled to a bird sanctuary and then watched the sunset before coming back in the dark. Families will enjoy the creature sightings but should be prepared to paddle against the current at times.
A Day Away also runs daytime tours of the wildlife refuge, bioluminescent and overnight tours. Be sure to bring bug spray, clothing that can get wet, bottled water, and a waterproof camera. For day tours, pack a hat and sunscreen. Go to the bathroom before you leave for the launch site and give yourself plenty of time to get there. It took me an hour and that included getting lost near the NASA base.
Where to Eat Near Merritt Island
There aren’t many dining options on Merritt Island near the kayaking put-in so you’ll have to drive to Cocoa Beach or St. John instead. Kelsey’s Pizzeria is a casual spot for Italian dishes. Hawksbill Bar and Grill has a waterfront location and a seafood menu.
Where to Stay Near Merritt Island
There are plenty of comfortable accommodations in Cocoa Beach. Rooms at Homewood Suites by Hilton Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach are large for families with televisions, fridges, microwaves, and dishwashers in the rooms. The property also has laundry facilities, a business center, and a fitness center.
We also recommend the Raddison Resort at the Port, which is convenient to the beach and the space center. It’s convenient to the cruise port and has in-room coffee makers, free WiFi, and a fitness center, game room, and poolside tiki bar on the property.
The Cocoa Beach area also has rentals on sites like Booking.com including this charming home and these cozy cottages in Cape Canaveral.
My sunset kayaking tour was arranged by Visit Space Coast and A Day Away, but all opinions are my own.
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