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Saltwater, Space Coast South

This section includes destinations for Kayaking the Indian River Lagoon, Banana River, Port Canaveral, Thousand Islands, Eau Gallie River, and other estaurine destinations in Central Brevard County.

Port Canaveral
At Port Canaveral, you can enjoy the activity of North America's busiest port (second largest cruise ship terminal in the world) along with outstanding wildlife. Two different boat ramps offer plenty of access to this exciting recreational area. Within the Port itself, large ships to be seen include some of the world's most elegant cruise ships, freighters and tankers from many countries, fishing boats of all types and a wide variety of U.S. Naval vessels. The northeast quadrant of the Port is a Trident submarine base, and the west turning basin is home to the U.S. Coast Guard Station. Military ships are common as Canaveral is a favorite port of call for captains as well as a popular transfer locale. Port Canaveral is the world's only quadri-modal port, utilizing transportation by water, land, air and space. Following a Space Shuttle launch, you might be fortunate to see a recovery ship bringing the Shuttle's rocket booster engines through the Port on their return to the Kennedy Space Center.

Wildlife is abundant, with manatees, dolphins and plenty of birds to see, especially in and around the locks, which connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Banana River estuary. Please observe security rules while in or near Port Canaveral. Stay 25 feet away from docks, and 100 feet away from moored vessels. Keep a 300-foot distance from all ships in transit. There is no access to the west turning basin when any cruise ships are in port. Canoes and kayaks may use the locks; however, the lockmaster will not open on demand for them. Paddlers must wait until a motor vessel approaches for the locks to open. Primitive camping is available on spoil islands west of the locks. A full service campground is available at Jetty Park. A new, 1500-foot pier along the south jetty provides for both day and night fishing.

Directions: There are two boat ramps at the Port. Both are on the south side. From north Cocoa, go east on SR 528 from I-95 or U.S. 1. After you cross the Banana River, follow the signs for the South Docks and go into the south entrance to the Port (George King Blvd). To reach Freddie Patrick Park, go east on George King Blvd to its intersection with Flounder Road. Turn left on Flounder Road on go to the end. The park with boat ramps is on the right when you reach the water. To get to Port's End or Rodney S. Ketcham Park, near the Canaveral Locks, turn left off of George King Blvd onto Dave Nisbett Drive. Turn left again onto Mullet Road and follow it around to the park. You will reach the locks if you continue going west on Mullet Road. Info: 321-321-783-7111 or visit www.portcanaveral.com.
Freddie Patrick Park GPS N 28 24.501 W 80 36.803
Freddie Patrick Park Google Satellite Image
Rodney S Ketcham Park GPS
N 28 24.517 W 80 37.866
Rodney S. Ketcham Park Google Satellite Image
Port Canaveral Google Satellite Image

Thousand Islands
Cocoa Beach's Thousand Islands are a flood-tide delta deposit, formed in the past by a breach in the barrier island by a strong storm surge. The natural movement of beach sand has since closed the inlet, but the islands remain. During the early 1970s, ditching by dragline was used in an effort to eliminate salt marsh in order to control mosquitoes. Most of the productive salt marshes that once rimmed the Indian River Lagoon were degraded in a similar manner. One side effect of this dredging was the creation of a maze of narrow trails through mangrove islands and hidden hammocks that are spectacular for kayaking. The canals provide shelter for manatees, dolphins and a wide variety of coastal birds.

This area is rich in both tropical and temperate plant species, some of which are found not much farther north than the Thousand Islands. The vegetation communities of the Thousand Islands include three habitat types: natural marsh, dredge-spoil and tropical hammock associated with shell middens. Middens are trash piles of clam and oyster shells; all that remains of Florida's original inhabitants -- pre-Columbian Native American Indians. These unique tropical hammocks, in particular, provide resting space and feeding areas for neotropical migrant bird species; the wetlands and ponds are a haven for many wading birds and migratory waterfowl. Salt marsh in the Thousand Islands is somewhat different than salt marsh found in other areas of the Banana River Lagoon. Instead of the typical temperate cord grass/needle rush plant community found on Merritt Island (a good example is Kaboord Sanctuary), Thousand Islands salt marsh is dominated by tropical salt marsh plant species such as glasswort and saltwort and is fringed by all three species of mangrove.

Directions: Launch from the end of Ramp Road in Cocoa Beach. From the intersection of SR 520 and Highway A1A, go south on A1A for several miles. Just past the Minuteman Causeway, turn right on 5th Street South. Go one block west to North Brevard Avenue and turn left. Take the first right on Ramp Road and go to the park.
Ramp Road Park GPS N 28 18.558 W 80 36.855
Ramp Road Park Google Satellite Image
Thousand Islands Google Satellite Image

Samsoms Island
Samsons Island is a 52 acre island nature preserve owned by the City of Satellite Beach accessable only by boat. The island has three docks or landing platforms. The Main dock is on the Grand Canal east of the island with a landing platform on the north and south side of the island. The island also has designated walking trails, and rustic campsites. Paddling only trails have been cut along the western portion of the island and the city of Satellite Beach has done a fantastic job of removing exotics and restoring native habitats to the island. Fishing on the flats west of the island and along the shoreline mangroves of the grand canal can be excellent. The City of Satellite Beach can be very proud of this project. The easiest access to Sampsons Island is via the Oars & Paddles Park in Indian Harbor Beach (see just below). From Oars and Paddles Park , paddle west down the canal past Telemar Marina until you reach the Banana River just south of Mather’s Bridge. Paddle north under the bridge and proceed past the first two canal openings and turn east into the third canal. It is only a few hundred yards north of the bridge and will soon turn to the North. This is the Grand Canal and paddling north from here about two miles will take you past many expensive homes to Sampsons Island . When you pass under the Lansing Island Bridge, the Island will be about a mile away on the left. You will pass a canal leading to the Banana River and then a landing dock along the only stretch of undeveloped land you've seen to this point. This is Samson's Island. You can also paddle north from Mather's Bridge along the eastern Banana River Shoreline to the island. Again the Island will stand out as the only undeveloped stretch of land. The total paddle either way is about 2.3 miles.
All Samsons Island visitors remaining on or arriving to the island after dusk must have a valid visitor permit. This permit is available from the Satellite Beach Recreation Department during their business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30am-6pm. Those wishing to secure a permit must bring in their driver's license & information on boat (model & length). The permit is issued annually and is valid through 12/31 of the current year. Visitors with permits are instructed to phone in their request to visit the island after dark (campfire or camping) prior to each visit. Also ask for an overnight parking permit for Oars & Paddles Park. This will allow you to leave your vehicle at the park for the duration of your campout at Samson's Island without the vehicle getting towed away. The Satellite Beach Recreation Department is located in the David R. Schechter Community Center at 1089 South Patrick Drive, Satellite Beach, FL 32937,
Phone: (321) 773-6458
GPS (Samsons Island) N 28 10.997 W 80 36.685
Google Satellite Image (Sampsons Island)
GPS (David R. Schechter Community Center) N 28 11.015 W 80 36.365
Google Satellite Image (David R. Schechter Community Center)
Oars & Paddles Park
1329 Banana River Drive
Indian Harbour Beach

This facility is home of the Space Coast Crew Rowing Club (www.spacecoastcrew.org) as well as a popular area for non-motorized recreational activities including canoeing, rowing, and paddling. Amenities at this site include a boathouse, pavilion, restrooms, pedway, improved parking, picnic tables and a long sloping dock providing access to the water. The nearby Grand Canal just north of Mathers Bridge is a popular training location for Olympic and collegiate sculling teams. The four-mile long canal is bordered on the west by a long strip of spoil deposit, which is divided into three islands. The central island is a nature sanctuary known as Samson's Island. Some of the area's finest homes border parts of the Grand Canal. The Canal is a great place to paddle when it is too windy to paddle on the open waters of the lagoon. Access from the park to the Banana River is through Whiting Waterway. To reach the Grand Canal, go north in the Banana River and under Mathers Bridge. The entrance to the Grand Canal is the third canal mouth on the right a few hundred yards beyond Mathers Bridge. Watching sculling teams practice in the Grand Canal pretty much requires some kind of a boat, unless you're lucky enough to view them leaving the park or passing under Mathers Bridge on their way to the Grand Canal. The best place for viewing collegiate sculling teams from land is from locations along Crane Creek in Downtown Melbourne.

Directions: From I-95 or US 1 in Melbourne, go east on Eau Gallie Causeway (SR 518). Just after crossing the bridge over the Indian River, turn left and proceed north on South Patrick Drive (SR 513) for .9-mile. Turn west on Banana River Drive. For information, visit www.brevardparks.com, or call 321-255-4400.
GPS N 28 09.020 W 80 36.072
Google Satellite Image

Merritt Island

Ulumay Wildlife Sancturary
805 Sykes Creek Parkway, Merritt Island
This 436.53-acre bird reservation and sanctuary offers a wilderness escape in an urban environment and is an international attraction for bird-watchers. Historically documented as a village of the Ais Indians who disappeared around 1720, it is a natural lagoon and bird rookery linked with canals created for mosquito control and surrounded by a manmade dike. There is a main paddling channel of several miles that runs along a wide expanse of mangrone marsh dotted with islands. Bring a compass or handheld GPS unit as it is easy to get lost in here if you venture off the main canoe trail. But it is a beautiful place to paddle with abundant wildlife. A 7 mile hiking and biking trail on the dike provides access to the non-paddler as well. A birdwatching tower offers a scenic overlook of the lagoon. Projecting into Sykes Creek at the southwest corner of the park is a fishing pier commonly known as the Old Humpbacked Troll Bridge. Although troll sightings are rumored, visitors are likely to view dolphin and birds such as the wood stork, belted kingfisher, and white or brown pelican. Alligator dormant season is October through May, however, visitors are advised to be cautious year-round.
Directions; FROM US Hwy 1 go 2.9 miles east on SR-520, turn left and go about 0.5 miles on Sykes Creek Parkway. The park entrance is on the left.
GPS N 28 22.317 W 80 40.426
Launch Site Google Satellite Image
Sanctuary Google Satellite Image

Eau Gallie River From Ballard Park
924 Thomas Barbour Drive, Melbourne
Ballard Park in Melbourne is situated at the mouth of the Eau Gallie River on the Indian River Lagoon just south of the Eau Gallie Causeway. Putting in here allows you to paddle the Eau Gallie River upstream until the river passes underneath the Croton Road bridge abouth 2.5 miles away. There will be one portage over a small dam at about the 1.5 mile point. Much of the river is lined with high end waterfront homes but there are still sections where shoreline vegetation is present and wildlife sightings include anhinga, double crested cormorant, herons, pelicans and other bird species, as well as alligators and turtles.
Directions; From US 1 south of Eau Gallie Blvd.(Eau Gallie Causeway), turn east on Thomas Barbour Road, and follow it to the end at Ballard Park
GPS N 28 07.487 W 80 37.501
Google Satellite Image