If there is one question I get asked a lot as an Orlando resident, it’s ” How do we get to the beach?” More and more people are choosing to take a rest day from the parks and head for a relaxing day at the beach. It’s a great way to regroup, spend time away from the massive crowds of Disney, and save a little money.
Central Florida is filled with beaches, you can head in any direction, and hit a beach. Ok, maybe not north. You would eventually hit a beach, but you have to go through Canada to get there, and in the winter months those beaches would be a very different experience.
One of the easiest beaches to get to from Orlando is Cocoa Beach. The directions are simple, it’s safe and straight out of a surfing movie. For people looking for the teen beach movie experience, this is your place.
Curious how you can spend the day at the beach and get the authentic Floridian experience? We have planned out the perfect day for you and your family. And it’s far easier on the wallet than any theme park.
There are two ways to get to Cocoa Beach; roads with tolls and roads without. I, like most people, hate tolls more than I hate the phrase “We should put more Frozen in Norway.” This is up to you, but coming from someone who does this journey often, take the toll roads. It will cost you roughly six bucks each way, but it’s worth the 45 minutes you save in each direction.
Toll Tip: Do not count on someone always being in the toll booth, so bring change. Tolls range in price from 25 cents to a buck and change. Some toll booths are manned, and some require exact change. I always say bring a roll of quarters with you, because you can always give change to a toll attendant, but you can not give a bill to an “exact change” toll. Here’s another tip: If you do not have the change, you can drive through a toll. Just record the time and toll booth you drove through. Once you get to the next manned toll booth, ask them for an envelope and you can mail in your money. This is perfectly acceptable. Just be prepared that when you drive through the toll without paying, alarms will go off like you robbed a bank, and everyone around you will think you are a criminal.
Here is the best toll route. If you want to go toll-free just google map it. Take the toll-roads though.
Congrats, you have arrived!
When it comes to spending time on a Florida beach, the best decision is to get there as early as possible. Most tourists start showing up around noon. Since it’s their rest day, they got up late, headed over to breakfast, and then started the drive to the beach. This is a huge mistake for two reasons. The first is because by midday the beach is ridiculously crowded. A million tourists with their rented surfboards, Disney beach towels, and cheap beach chairs. How do I know they are tourists? It’s because anyone who lives in Florida knows the second reason. By mid-day the beach will be the temperature of the surface of the sun. No, let me correct myself. The temperature of the surface of a sun that was placed in a planet size oven and placed on supernova. This Canadian has learned this the hard way.
If you get there early you can have the beach partially to yourself. You can go for a walk/run on the beach or just lay in the sun. When it starts getting too hot, you can head out and get something to eat, leaving your fellow tourists to cook on the beach.
Always keep a careful eye on where you park. Once on the beach you won’t be able to see your vehicle anymore, and you will be left with staring at a bunch of these staircases (pictured below). Remember which one you came down to the beach on, and it will save you stress later.
Earlier you might have noticed the driving directions brought you to a specific place. I did this on purpose because there is plenty of parking here, and it places you beside the world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. If you come to Cocoa Beach it’s every tourist’s obligation to stop at this surf shop. The Ron Jon Surf Shop is also the world’s largest surf shop at 52,000 square feet. It’s ridiculously big. It’s their flagship store and has been dubbed “One Of A Kind” for the past 50 years. This store offers everything you could possibly need for the beach, and it’s open 24hrs a day. I’m not sure who needs a shirt at 3am, but they are there if you need one. Don’t worry about forgetting to get the world famous Ron Jon Sticker, the staff there will give you as many as you want if you buy so much as a toothpick.
Located next door is their watersports store and where you can rent all your beach rental needs. Your kids will love the surfboards, beach bikes, and paddle boards. Always keep safety in mind when exploring the ocean. Before allowing your children to enter the water, take the time to explain how the ocean works, and what to do if they get in trouble. That information can be found online, and all over the beach.
Hungry ? I hear so many people say they want the true Floridian experience, but then only eat at the large chain restaurants. If you really want to experience the true beach lifestyle you have to stop by the small beach town of Satellite Beach. Think of it as the quieter, and lesser known neighbor. More importantly it has the local surfer hang out place; Da Kine Diego’s Insane Burritos.
If you are looking for awesome Mexican food with west coast flare and a beach atmosphere, Da Kine’s is the place you need to try. It’s easy to tell this is a spot the locals love. This place can have some long lines at lunch time, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Why not strike up a conversation with one of the surfers waiting in line with you? I can guarantee there will be some still dripping from the ocean only yards away.
The amazing staff and the unique atmosphere leave you feeling like you are just one of the laid back folk who live in this surf town. So much so that they encourage you to leave a note on the wall (Keep it classy people!) and there are always plenty of surfing magazines laying around. One of the coolest parts of this place is the outside of the building. People have placed stickers from all over the world on their exterior. You could easy spend hours just looking at them.
Let’s get to the food!
My husband and I always eat here when driving through town. The food isn’t fancy, and that’s the way they like it. You can count on it being delicious, and the quantities large. For the ultimate hungry guest there is the Taco Combo. This thing is so good! You choose any tacos and it’s served with a scoop of Jasmine rice, black beans, green onions, spicy carrots, and a slice of fresh pineapple. Also did I mention it’s ridiculously cheap? The one taco combo is just $ 5.47.Be adventurous and try the Spicy Carrots! Sounds odd, but for under three dollars(a la carte) they are so good! It’s a must have in our family.
If you do anything in the area, you have to eat at this beach-themed surf shack. I am seriously craving it just thinking about it.
Now you know how to spend the best morning at the beach, my next installment will show you how to spend your perfect afternoon. Stay tuned for more adventures.
Follow the author on Twitter Here