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Port Canaveral Things To Do and Getting Around


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Hello everyone! This is my first post, so I apologize for the long-windedness of it! I am trying to plan for our day in Port Canaveral as that is one of our stops when we sail on the Breakaway from NY in early November. Are there things to do near the port that are within walking distance, and if not, are taxis (or maybe Uber drivers) readily available? This board seems to have a lot of information on parking, directions to the port and where to stay if you are departing from PC, but I would love some input on what to do while we are docked and how to get around. The ship does offer a couple excursions which sound like they consist of a shuttle to and from either Cocoa Beach or Cocoa Beach Village for a reasonable price, but I don't know what the difference is and if they are walkable to each other. (Since they offer two different excursions I wondered about distance between the beach and village.) Are there things to do there? Any recommendations on fun places to eat and drink? Boat rides and/or tours? Is the Exploration Tower worth a visit? We do not want to head over to Orlando for the day. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! (We are three fun loving college roomies going with our DHs to celebrate our 50th Birthdays and 25th wedding anniversaries!) Thank you in advance!

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this is a little old (some links may be dead) but a decent starting point:

 

We think there is a lot to do near the Port - even Disneyworld and other theme parks are just an easy hour away by road!

 

Please look at this map of Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach for orientation:

****see google earth or maps*****

 

Step 1:

What is your cruise terminal? If 5, 6, or 10 then you need transport. Either a rental car shuttle or a pre-arranged ride. Cocoa Beach Shuttle is a good starting point for pre-arranged pickups. 888-taxi is available and despite some bad press about prices they are popular and efficient. (*** ship schedule at https://www.portcanaveral.com/PortCanaveral/media/Cruise-Assets/FY2018/FY-2018-Cruise-Schedule.pdf ***)

enhance

If 1, or 3 then you have some activities within walking distance:

1. Jetty Park (FREE) for a beach/suntan. Very scenic area and very nice beach.http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/

2. Beach bus stop – For $1.25 one-way, the local beach bus will take you to Cocoa Beach (Shepard Park for Ron Jon area) or within walking distance of the famous Cocoa Beach Pier (use Publix Stop). About 30 minutes to these stops.http://www.ridescat.com/

3. The Cove at the Port – All the famous restaurants (Millikens, Rusty’s, Fishlips, Grills) http://visitportcanaveral.com/

4. The Exploration Tower – A bit expensive ($6.50+tax) but interesting info about the port with games for kids and 360 degree view from the 7th floor. http://www.explorationtower.com/

5. Helicopter and biplane rides - http://www.floridaairtours.com/ the chopper is right there behind terminal 2.

 

Step 2:

So you want to explore further afield in private and not using a shore excursion?

 

Rental Cars:

Unless you just want a simple single visit somewhere in Cape Canaveral or Cocoa Beach, I think the best option is to rent a car for the day. Start price-shopping with Payless (within walking distance of terminals 3 & 4) but all offer port shuttles. To avoid boring waiting time with kids in tow, I suggest that one adult go early to get the car then come back to pick the family!

 

Please know some of the popular rental car companies share shuttles and offices. (*** Hertz, National, Enterprise, Alamo, Payless, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis **)

enhance

Shuttles:

If you do not want to drive or use the public beach bus, then shuttle/taxi services are available. 888-taxi -http://cab888.com/ has a port contract with hail privileges whereas others have to pay port entry fees ($5 or more depending on vehicle size) which add to the costs. Same deal for UBER ....

 

Here is a list of the shuttles I see most often in the area: Cocoa Beach Shuttle - http://www.cbshuttle.com, Beach Line -http://www.beachlineshuttle.net, Space Port - http://spaceporttransport.com/ , Hoo Ha taxi – (321) 749 3232, etc.

 

Expect to pay around $20 for two people for a one-way trip to Ron Jon Surf shop for example.

 

Kennedy Space Center:

One of the most popular shore excursions. I always see a line of KSC buses waiting on each ship! So you can expect a crowded day at KSC. There are ways to manage your day in order to avoid lines at the top attractions – I am planning to write it up in a separate note.

 

A private return shuttle to Kennedy Space Center averages between $80 and $120 roundtrip for 2 people (total) plus 20% tip. If you self-drive, the parking costs are $10.

 

Beach:

During winter months and if Port Canaveral is the first stop when sailing from NY for example, the beach is what a lot of people want! I totally understand and highly recommend to walk over to Jetty Park. The beach there is wide with some wave action and life guards are on duty. You can rent chairs and umbrellas and some beach toys (beach chair/umbrella rentals for 2 people are about $15 a day). The beach café is pretty good too! http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/

 

If you want to go to the beach near restaurants/bars, try the Cocoa Beach Pier area - http://www.cocoabeachpier.com/ or further down near Coconuts on the Beach. Cruise ship shore excursions go to Shepard beach (near Ron Jon) so do not go there if you want to avoid your fellow passengers!

 

The SCAT public transport is cheap and easy (30 minutes) down to the Pier and Ron Jon areas. There are several areas (and companies) for learning how to surf, paddleboard, etc. I know the kids love the surfing lessons so please consider that but do be aware the water is cold in winter and I recommend you use a surf school that supply wetsuits.

 

Activities (Orlando area):

I understand the attraction but it is tough for me to recommend a whirlwind bus or private tour of any of the Orlando theme parks. It is almost impossible to experience the parks in a long day, so a half-day trip is pretty intense! Ride lines will be long, it may be very hot, the transfers take at least an hour each way and it is very expensive for what you can achieve on such a rushed excursion.

 

It may be best to rent a car and visit just (formerly)Downtown Disney {now Disney Springs} (a free Disney-like experience but be aware it is mostly restaurants and shops) and perhaps a lesser-known place like Gatorland.

 

Activities (other than Orlando and Kennedy Space Center):

The best activities around Port Canaveral are beach or nature-based but there are very good museums too. Manatees, gators, airboats, learn to surf, kayak, hike, etc. are on offer. Airboats are a lot of noisy fun!

Pre-arrangements/bookings are crucial.

 

Disclaimer - I do not endorse any of the companies/establishments listed and I have no relationship (personal or business) with them. My list is just a starting point of different activities so please do your own research!

 

a) Sunward Tours - http://www.sunwardtours.com They can arrange just about any activity

b) FunDay Tours - https://www.facebook.com/funday.tours Work primarily with pre-formed groups such as shore trips but check them out anyway

c) Segway Tours - http://spacecoastsegwaytours.com/ will guide you around the port

d) Airboat rides – There are several but most shore excursions go to Midway - http://www.airboatridesatmidway.com/ or Lone Cabbage - http://www.twisterairboatrides.com/ . To get away from the crowds, try Grasshopper -http://www.airboatecotours.com/ , Old Fashioned Airboat Rides - http://airboatrides.com or Switchgrass -http://switchgrassoutfitters.com

e) Kayaking to see manatees and wildlife - Adventure Kayak - http://kayakcocoabeach.com/, Fin Expeditions -http://www.finexpeditions.com for Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands. Also Calypso - http://calypsokayaking.com at Manatee Cove not far from Kennedy Space Center. Note – from November to March the Manatees prefer warmer water in other areas and may not be seen regularly around Canaveral.

f) Learn to Surf. Cocoa Beach Surf Company - http://cocoabeachsurf.com/surf_lessons_camp.html or Ron Jonhttp://www.ronjonsurfschool.com are solid representatives of the surf school companies

g) Air Force Space and Missile History Center – http://www.afspacemuseum.org/historycenter/ The history of the launch areas around Canaveral. Very informative.

h) Warbird Museum – http://www.vacwarbirds.net/ If you love aviation then this is the place to go. Lovingly maintained by volunteers (mostly ex-armed forces). It is an amazing museum.

i) Police Hall of Fame – http://www.aphf.org/museum.html More interesting than most expect. Various exhibits of the history of major crime as well as impressive though very sad memorial.

j) Astronaut Hall of Fame - https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/t...l-of-fame.aspx is part of the Kennedy Space Center experience but in a different location.

k) Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek - https://brevardzoo.org/

l) Shopping - Dinosaur Store and Museum - http://dinosaurstore.com/ and Ron Jon Surf Shop -http://www.ronjonsurfshop.com/ Fun for kids old and young!

m) Wildlife Parks - Jungle Adventures – http://www.jungleadventures.com - An old-time Florida animal park. Not fancy but friendly and interesting. Larger than Expected. Shore excursions often combine the Jungle and a Midway Airboat ride in the same package.

n) Boat rides on the Banana River to see wildlife including manatees (not many around during Nov and Apr). Start with Island Boat Lines - http://www.islandboatlines.com/ and also Wild Side Tours http://wildsidetours.com/

o) Forever Florida - http://foreverflorida.com a really adventurous safari with swamp buggy rides, ziplines, etc! A bit far unless you have car.

p) Cocoa Beach Skatepark - http://cocoabeachskatepark.com/ Certainly unusual for cruisers but a seriously fun and safe skatepark for the cool kids in your family if they packed skate boards! Open at 4pm during school days so plan accordingly so they can skate for 2 hours or so before returning to your ship.

q) Brewery – Florida Beer Company - https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBeerCompany a very good tour and tasting arrangement! Close to the Port.

{I stole this, didn't create it. I provided a few ipdates and pictures}

Edited by Capt_BJ
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Just a side note: Cocoa Beach and Cocoa are two different cities. Cocoa Beach adjoins Port Canaveral, and Cocoa is on the mainland side. The little old downtown there, on the mainland side, is called Cocoa Village. There is a long island, called Merritt Island, between the two. It's 10-12 miles between Cocoa Beach and Cocoa, so you most likely would not want to walk.

 

 

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I wouldn't recommend going to the beach in the winter unless you are flying in from Northern Canada or some place like that. The temps in winter are only in the 60's during the day, but I guess that is warm for some people.

 

We lived near Orlando for 15 years and only Canadians were ever in our pools in the winter. They looked beautiful, but even with the heated pools, the air was cold and the ocean is even colder.

 

There are several good restaurants near the port. If you like seafood, Grills or Fish Lips are good. There are also things to do at the Cocoa Beach Pier which is down at the beach.

 

Many tourists also like to go to Ron Jon's surf shop. It is huge and it's kind of a landmark. Have fun!

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this is a little old (some links may be dead) but a decent starting point:

 

We think there is a lot to do near the Port - even Disneyworld and other theme parks are just an easy hour away by road!

 

Please look at this map of Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach for orientation:

****see google earth or maps*****

 

Step 1:

What is your cruise terminal? If 5, 6, or 10 then you need transport. Either a rental car shuttle or a pre-arranged ride. Cocoa Beach Shuttle is a good starting point for pre-arranged pickups. 888-taxi is available and despite some bad press about prices they are popular and efficient. (*** ship schedule at https://www.portcanaveral.com/PortCanaveral/media/Cruise-Assets/FY2018/FY-2018-Cruise-Schedule.pdf ***)

enhance

If 1, or 3 then you have some activities within walking distance:

1. Jetty Park (FREE) for a beach/suntan. Very scenic area and very nice beach.http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/

2. Beach bus stop – For $1.25 one-way, the local beach bus will take you to Cocoa Beach (Shepard Park for Ron Jon area) or within walking distance of the famous Cocoa Beach Pier (use Publix Stop). About 30 minutes to these stops.http://www.ridescat.com/

3. The Cove at the Port – All the famous restaurants (Millikens, Rusty’s, Fishlips, Grills) http://visitportcanaveral.com/

4. The Exploration Tower – A bit expensive ($6.50+tax) but interesting info about the port with games for kids and 360 degree view from the 7th floor. http://www.explorationtower.com/

5. Helicopter and biplane rides - http://www.floridaairtours.com/ the chopper is right there behind terminal 2.

 

Step 2:

So you want to explore further afield in private and not using a shore excursion?

 

Rental Cars:

Unless you just want a simple single visit somewhere in Cape Canaveral or Cocoa Beach, I think the best option is to rent a car for the day. Start price-shopping with Payless (within walking distance of terminals 3 & 4) but all offer port shuttles. To avoid boring waiting time with kids in tow, I suggest that one adult go early to get the car then come back to pick the family!

 

Please know some of the popular rental car companies share shuttles and offices. (*** Hertz, National, Enterprise, Alamo, Payless, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis **)

enhance

Shuttles:

If you do not want to drive or use the public beach bus, then shuttle/taxi services are available. 888-taxi -http://cab888.com/ has a port contract with hail privileges whereas others have to pay port entry fees ($5 or more depending on vehicle size) which add to the costs. Same deal for UBER ....

 

Here is a list of the shuttles I see most often in the area: Cocoa Beach Shuttle - http://www.cbshuttle.com, Beach Line -http://www.beachlineshuttle.net, Space Port - http://spaceporttransport.com/ , Hoo Ha taxi – (321) 749 3232, etc.

 

Expect to pay around $20 for two people for a one-way trip to Ron Jon Surf shop for example.

 

Kennedy Space Center:

One of the most popular shore excursions. I always see a line of KSC buses waiting on each ship! So you can expect a crowded day at KSC. There are ways to manage your day in order to avoid lines at the top attractions – I am planning to write it up in a separate note.

 

A private return shuttle to Kennedy Space Center averages between $80 and $120 roundtrip for 2 people (total) plus 20% tip. If you self-drive, the parking costs are $10.

 

Beach:

During winter months and if Port Canaveral is the first stop when sailing from NY for example, the beach is what a lot of people want! I totally understand and highly recommend to walk over to Jetty Park. The beach there is wide with some wave action and life guards are on duty. You can rent chairs and umbrellas and some beach toys (beach chair/umbrella rentals for 2 people are about $15 a day). The beach café is pretty good too! http://www.jettyparkbeachandcampground.com/

 

If you want to go to the beach near restaurants/bars, try the Cocoa Beach Pier area - http://www.cocoabeachpier.com/ or further down near Coconuts on the Beach. Cruise ship shore excursions go to Shepard beach (near Ron Jon) so do not go there if you want to avoid your fellow passengers!

 

The SCAT public transport is cheap and easy (30 minutes) down to the Pier and Ron Jon areas. There are several areas (and companies) for learning how to surf, paddleboard, etc. I know the kids love the surfing lessons so please consider that but do be aware the water is cold in winter and I recommend you use a surf school that supply wetsuits.

 

Activities (Orlando area):

I understand the attraction but it is tough for me to recommend a whirlwind bus or private tour of any of the Orlando theme parks. It is almost impossible to experience the parks in a long day, so a half-day trip is pretty intense! Ride lines will be long, it may be very hot, the transfers take at least an hour each way and it is very expensive for what you can achieve on such a rushed excursion.

 

It may be best to rent a car and visit just (formerly)Downtown Disney {now Disney Springs} (a free Disney-like experience but be aware it is mostly restaurants and shops) and perhaps a lesser-known place like Gatorland.

 

Activities (other than Orlando and Kennedy Space Center):

The best activities around Port Canaveral are beach or nature-based but there are very good museums too. Manatees, gators, airboats, learn to surf, kayak, hike, etc. are on offer. Airboats are a lot of noisy fun!

Pre-arrangements/bookings are crucial.

 

Disclaimer - I do not endorse any of the companies/establishments listed and I have no relationship (personal or business) with them. My list is just a starting point of different activities so please do your own research!

 

a) Sunward Tours - http://www.sunwardtours.com They can arrange just about any activity

b) FunDay Tours - https://www.facebook.com/funday.tours Work primarily with pre-formed groups such as shore trips but check them out anyway

c) Segway Tours - http://spacecoastsegwaytours.com/ will guide you around the port

d) Airboat rides – There are several but most shore excursions go to Midway - http://www.airboatridesatmidway.com/ or Lone Cabbage - http://www.twisterairboatrides.com/ . To get away from the crowds, try Grasshopper -http://www.airboatecotours.com/ , Old Fashioned Airboat Rides - http://airboatrides.com or Switchgrass -http://switchgrassoutfitters.com

e) Kayaking to see manatees and wildlife - Adventure Kayak - http://kayakcocoabeach.com/, Fin Expeditions -http://www.finexpeditions.com for Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands. Also Calypso - http://calypsokayaking.com at Manatee Cove not far from Kennedy Space Center. Note – from November to March the Manatees prefer warmer water in other areas and may not be seen regularly around Canaveral.

f) Learn to Surf. Cocoa Beach Surf Company - http://cocoabeachsurf.com/surf_lessons_camp.html or Ron Jonhttp://www.ronjonsurfschool.com are solid representatives of the surf school companies

g) Air Force Space and Missile History Center – http://www.afspacemuseum.org/historycenter/ The history of the launch areas around Canaveral. Very informative.

h) Warbird Museum – http://www.vacwarbirds.net/ If you love aviation then this is the place to go. Lovingly maintained by volunteers (mostly ex-armed forces). It is an amazing museum.

i) Police Hall of Fame – http://www.aphf.org/museum.html More interesting than most expect. Various exhibits of the history of major crime as well as impressive though very sad memorial.

j) Astronaut Hall of Fame - https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/t...l-of-fame.aspx is part of the Kennedy Space Center experience but in a different location.

k) Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek - https://brevardzoo.org/

l) Shopping - Dinosaur Store and Museum - http://dinosaurstore.com/ and Ron Jon Surf Shop -http://www.ronjonsurfshop.com/ Fun for kids old and young!

m) Wildlife Parks - Jungle Adventures – http://www.jungleadventures.com - An old-time Florida animal park. Not fancy but friendly and interesting. Larger than Expected. Shore excursions often combine the Jungle and a Midway Airboat ride in the same package.

n) Boat rides on the Banana River to see wildlife including manatees (not many around during Nov and Apr). Start with Island Boat Lines - http://www.islandboatlines.com/ and also Wild Side Tours http://wildsidetours.com/

o) Forever Florida - http://foreverflorida.com a really adventurous safari with swamp buggy rides, ziplines, etc! A bit far unless you have car.

p) Cocoa Beach Skatepark - http://cocoabeachskatepark.com/ Certainly unusual for cruisers but a seriously fun and safe skatepark for the cool kids in your family if they packed skate boards! Open at 4pm during school days so plan accordingly so they can skate for 2 hours or so before returning to your ship.

q) Brewery – Florida Beer Company - https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBeerCompany a very good tour and tasting arrangement! Close to the Port.

{I stole this, didn't create it. I provided a few ipdates and pictures}

What a fantastic helpful post.

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  • 5 months later...
this is a little old (some links may be dead) but a decent starting point:

 

l) Shopping - Dinosaur Store and Museum - http://dinosaurstore.com/ and Ron Jon Surf Shop -http://www.ronjonsurfshop.com/ Fun for kids old and young!

 

I'm not sure whether to thank you or curse you. My boyfriend now refuses to go anywhere except for the Dinosaur Store and pretty much guaranteed that he will make me hold a snake in their adventure zone :')

 

I told him he will owe me quite a few beers at one of the breweries nearby afterwards hahaha.

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Any info on rental car shuttles that stay open later? We're in port from noon until 9pm in Terminal 10. Until we found out we were docked in Terminal 10, we had planned on walking to the National Car Rental location. Then, we found out they had a shuttle, which was good news, but only until 3pm.

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Any info on rental car shuttles that stay open later? We're in port from noon until 9pm in Terminal 10. Until we found out we were docked in Terminal 10, we had planned on walking to the National Car Rental location. Then, we found out they had a shuttle, which was good news, but only until 3pm.

 

rental places almost always have a drop box ... park the car, drop the keys in the box, you get final bill mailed. Since your rental was for 24 hours anyway, no biggie ....

 

Often there are taxi hangin' out just waiting for folks to do this . in a pinch you can UBER or the taxi company with the port contract is 321 868 8888

 

p.s. you can't walk from T-10 to the Enterprise/National/Alamo office, or much anyplace else. If you look at a map of the port you see T-10 is on the 'north side' and to get there one crosses a draw bridge. This bridge is NOT pedestrian friendly and security WILL stop you ... there are no sidewalks ...

 

enhance

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rental places almost always have a drop box ... park the car, drop the keys in the box, you get final bill mailed. Since your rental was for 24 hours anyway, no biggie ....

 

Often there are taxi hangin' out just waiting for folks to do this . in a pinch you can UBER or the taxi company with the port contract is 321 868 8888

 

p.s. you can't walk from T-10 to the Enterprise/National/Alamo office, or much anyplace else. If you look at a map of the port you see T-10 is on the 'north side' and to get there one crosses a draw bridge. This bridge is NOT pedestrian friendly and security WILL stop you ... there are no sidewalks ...

 

enhance

Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I saw the dreaded Terminal 10 is not very convenient. I was hoping for Terminal 1. That alone is going to cost us extra for a cab or Uber. I'm not very familiar with cab or Uber fares. What should I estimate the damage to be?

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