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Saltwater, Space Coast North

This section lists destinations for Kayaking the Indian River Lagoon and tributaries from Southern Volusia County to Northern Brevard County, including Merritt Island national Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore.

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Canaveral National Seashore ||| Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge ||| North Merritt Island ||| Mainland
Callalisa Park / Callalisa Creek
To reach Callalisa Park, take SR 44 east from either I-95 or US 1 in New Smyrna Beach. After you cross the high bridge, turn left at the first traffic light onto Peninsula Avenue. Callalisa Park is immediately on the left. Put in here and head South under the causeway to enter the creek, while paddling to the North about two miles will take you to Ponce Inlet. Callalisa Creek is a tidal creek at the North end of Canaveral National Seashore that meanders through Salt Marsh and Mangrove Swamp. Look for many species of wading birds, osprey, pelicans, dolphins, and manatees.
GPS N 29 01.776 W 80 54.215
Google Satellite Image

There are two distinct districts with two separate entrances and you cannot drive between the two. The North or Apollo District is accessed from New Symrna Beach in Volusia County while the South or Playalinda District is accessed from Titusville.
Owned by NASA, this property is managed by the National Park Service and protects roughly 26 miles of Atlantic Ocean Shoreline and provides nesting grounds for up to 7 species of sea turtles while protecting natural dunes, coastal strand scrub, salt marsh and other wetlands, and virtually the entire body of the Mosquito Lagoon. Over 300 species of birds have been seen at the seashore from gulls, pelicans, ducks, herons, egrets, terns, gannets, assorted shorebirds, and raptors, to painted buntings, migratory songbirds in the hammock areas and scrubjays just inside the north district entrance.
Map of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore North District

Shipyard Island Canoe Trail; Mosquito Lagoon;
The northern end of Mosquito Lagoon at Canaveral National Seashore is a virtual maze of islands and channels and is a great paddling destination. In fact, Outside Magazine rates the Mosquito Lagoon as one of the top ten paddling destinations in the United States. A primary feature for paddling the north district is the Shipyard Island Canoe Trail. Accessible due west from the boat ramp located just inside the North District Gate on the right hand side of the road, the marked canoe trail travels through the numerous waterways that honeycomb this large island, leftovers from mosquito control efforts in the 1940s and '50s. Higher than surrounding mangrove islands, Shipyard Island is shaded with oak trees, red cedars and cabbage palms. Oysterbeds, mangrove shorelines, and seagrass beds abound while designated backcountry campsites provide overnight, leave no trace, primitive camping opportunities in a unique Florida Wilderness, while white sandy beaches not accessible by motorboats due to the shallows invite day picnics.
Shipyard Island Canoe Trail Map
Map of Canaveral National Seashore
GPS of Boatramp / Launch Site;
N 28 56.063 W 80 49.761
Google Satellite Image

Canaveral National Seashore South District
Eddy Creek
The Eddy Creek area was formed several thousand years ago when an inlet connected the Mosquito Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean. Tidal currents through this inlet brought vast amounts of sand and sediment through the inlet into the lagoon forming a tidal delta that later became mangrove wetlands. The inlet later closed, leaving these wetlands. Here you will find yourself paddling along mangrove shorelines on shallow seagrass flats. Wading birds, pelicans, ospreys, and many other bird and wildlife species can be sighted from the seat of a canoe or kayak.
GPS N 28 40.541 W 80 38.884
Google Satellite Image
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
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Beachside ||| Canaveral National Seashore ||| North Merritt Island ||| Mainland

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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge;
Owned by NASA and home of Kennedy Space Center, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has been managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service since 1963. Though there are four entrances open to NASA workers, only two are available to provide access to the public portions of the refuge, and they are the Max Brewer Causeway in Titusville and the State Road 3 entrance from US 1 just south of the town of Oak Hill in Volusia County. This is a large refuge, 140,000 acres and while there are miles of dike roads to launch a canoe or kayak from, there are a few places that stand out from the rest. These are listed below.
GPS Oak Hill Entrance N 28 50.049 W 80 50.512
Google Satellite Image, Oak Hill Entrance
GPS Titusville Entrance
N 28 37.698 W 80 47.288
Google Satellite Image, Titusville Entrance
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Map

WSEG Boat Ramp
The WSEG Boat Ramp, located 3.7 miles north of Haulover Canal, provides access to Mosquito Lagoon. From the ramp, a 2.5-mile paddle across the lagoon takes you to a collection of islands and waterways within the most remote area of Canaveral National Seashore, accessible only by boat. Note that crossing the mosquito lagoon If you like fishing, large schools of redfish that congregate in this part of the lagoon are legendary.
N 28 47.394 W 80 47.260
Google Satellite Image (Boat Ramp)
Google Satellite Image showing islands opposite boat ramp


Haulover Canal / Mullethead Island
The best location on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge from which to view dolphins and manatees, Haulover Canal is a passageway between the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon. Just to the west lies one of the most significant colonial waterbird nesting islands in the state. Mullethead Island and its surrounding grass flats provide an excellent opportunity to view a variety of birds from the water's level. In late spring, there's a good chance you'll see roseate spoonbills and reddish egrets feeding their young. Other birds that nest on the island include great blue, little blue, tricolored and black-crowned night-herons; great and snowy egrets; white ibises; brown pelicans; and double-crested cormorants. Prime viewing time is March through July. In addition to wading birds in spectacular breeding plumage, look for numerous shorebirds, gulls and terns loafing on sandbars on the south side of the island. In winter, lesser scaups, white pelicans, common loons, red-breasted mergansers and horned grebes may also be seen on the open waters of the lagoon.
Haulover Canal is part of the Intra-coastal Waterway; you never know what kind of interesting vessels may pass by – everything from shrimp-boats to tugs and huge barges to multi-million dollar yachts utilize the ICW. Bottle-nosed dolphins can often be seen frolicking near the canal's approaches, and the deeper waters of the canal provide shelter for manatees in warmer months; they can often be easily seen from a viewing platform near the drawbridge or in Bair's Cove boat launching area located southwest of the bridge. Stay at least 150 feet away from the Manatee Viewing Platform in order to avoid disturbing the manatees.
Going north from the canal, a string of dredge-spoil islands parallels the Intra-coastal Waterway in Mosquito Lagoon. Created in the 1950's and 60's when the navigable channel was dredged through the lagoon's shallow waters, these islands have become wildlife havens; some, like Mullethead Island, are now important bird rookeries. With plenty of sandy beaches to explore, the spoil islands also provide shelter from easterly winds. It is possible to paddle from Haulover Canal 10 miles north to Oak Hill and stay in the lee of islands the entire way. There is virtually no development along this spectacular stretch of waterway. Wildlife is abundant along mangrove shorelines, and the shallow crystal clear water allows for great views of vibrant beds of colorful seagrasses and marine life. Watch for stingrays, horseshoe crabs, spotted sea trout, jumping mullet, and giant tailing redfish in the water and alligators, wild hogs, raccoons and river otters along the shores.
: To get to Haulover Canal, go across the Titusville Bridge and head toward the Black Point Wildlife Drive. Go past the Drive to the stop sign at SR 3. Turn left and go 4.5 miles north, crossing the bridge over the Canal. Take the first left at the bottom of the bridge, across from the Manatee Viewing Platform sign. Follow the road around, turning right and passing through a gate at the ruins of the old Allenhurst Fish Camp. The road now parallels the canal; go all the way to the end, where you'll find a nice sandy beach for launching.
GPS Haulover Canal Launch Point N 28 43.831 W 80 45.689
Google Satellite Image (Haulover Canal Launch Point)
Google Satellite Image (Mullethead Island)


Dummit Cove
located 2.1 miles south of Haulover Canal. Providing access to the Indian River Lagoon, Dummit Cove is somewhat sheltered and can be an interesting place to visit on windy days when paddling on the open waters of the lagoon becomes difficult. Following the shoreline of this cove makes a great paddling loop trail. You will find many species of birds here and possibly an alligator or two. Seagrass beds here are very lush.
N 28 42.589 W 80 44.090
Google Satellite Image


Max Brewer Causeway
Max Brewer Causeway or State Road 406 from Titusville is a good place to put in to explore the refuge by kayak. Putting in on the north side of the causeway allows you to explore the western shoreline of the refuge up to the Pucket Creek Area.
Put in on the south side of the causeway to access Gator Creek, Brock's Point and Peacock's Pocket near the mouth of Banana Creek. This is the closest area on the water from which to view Space Shuttles take off and land; the launch pads are just nine miles from the mouth of the creek, and the landing strip is 2.5 miles away. Banana Creek itself is closed to the public as it is within NASA'a Kennedy Space Center Security Zone. Do not Enter even the mouth of the creek.
N 28 37.621 W 80 47.365
Google Satellite Image (Launch on either side of causeway at green arrow)
Google Satellite Image Gator Creek / Catfish Creek (Catfish Creek marked by arrow, Gator Creek is just north. Both are OK to enter)
Google Satellite Image of Banana Creek (Do Not Enter, NASA Security Zone)

North Merritt Island
Pine Island Conservation Area;
The Pine Island Conservation Area is a dynamic landscape supporting a diverse plant community and abundant wildlife. Adjoining the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the 879-acre conservation area is jointly owned by the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL Program) and the St. Johns River Water Management District. Two hiking trails accessed from a trailhead 0.5 miles from the entrance parking area offer moderate 1.0 mile and 1.5 mile walks through pine flatwoods and hydric hammock habitats. Each trail features overlooks providing visitors with panoramic vistas of shallow water feeding habitat of wading birds, shorebirds and waterfowl. Biking is allowed on established trails.

Two canoe trails, a 2.3-mile loop run and a 3.0-mile run, offer a relaxing way for visitors to observe area wildlife. Canoes may be launched from the Marsh Pond or Sam's Creek launch sites. During low water periods a natural channel connecting the north marsh ponds is impassable. A depth gauge located at the Marsh Pond canoe launch indicates when water depths in the ponds hamper navigation. Boating is restricted in the south end of South Borrow Lake. This area provides critical nesting habitat to a variety of wading and diving birds. Human disturbances, although unintentional, can result in the loss of young hatchlings. The coastal location and diversity of habitat types provide many opportunities for viewing wildlife that are enhanced by permanent blinds accessible by foot or canoe. Wading birds are common, with fall migration bringing numerous species of waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as white pelicans that feed and rest in shallow waters of the marsh pond and the Indian River Lagoon. Pine flatwoods provide habitat for resident and migratory songbirds. Red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and black vultures are often sighted, and occasionally bald eagles are seen soaring over the conservation lands. Alligators and aquatic turtles are also common inhabitants of the marshes and expansive open waters. Endangered manatees frequently seek refuge in the peaceful waters of Sam's Creek/Rinker Canal. They are often observed resting at the north end of the canal, particularly during winter and early spring months.

Directions: From the intersection of SR 520 and SR 3 (North Courtney Pkwy) on Merritt Island, go north on SR 3 for five miles to Pine Island Road. Turn left and go west on Pine Island Rd. and follow it 2.5 miles to the parking lot at the end. A kiosk with a map shows the canoe trails. For information, visit www.eelbrevard.com, or call 321-255-4466.
Google Satellite Image

Kaboord Sanctuary
Kaboord Sanctuary is another one of the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program properties. Central Florida is unique in that, geographically, it lies in an area where temperate and subtropical climatic zones meet. This site represents one of the best examples of the mixture of tropical and temperate species of plants for which Merritt Island is famous. The tidal creeks of Kaboord were once part of the Sykes Creek system before they were impounded. These beautiful wetlands are reminiscent of what much of Merritt Island used to look like, a "savannah" of salt grasses and low mangroves. The paddling route is down the main creek channel, with detours along side creek channels along the way, terminating at the dike at Canaveral Barge Canal. The return trip will retrace the same route, but don't worry -- wildlife moves around, the angle of the sun changes perspectives, and you won't be bored paddling back. This wetland is known for numerous birds -- raptors, waders, shorebirds, gulls and terns and some early-arriving waterfowl. There is no motorboat access to this site, so be prepared for a peaceful ride!

Directions: To get to Kaboord Sanctuary from the intersection of Highway 528 and SR 3 (Courtenay Parkway), proceed north on SR 3 for about two miles. Make a right on Hall Road at the Circle K. You'll see a sign for NASA's KARS Park. Go east on Hall Road to where the tree line ends at the western edge of the open marsh.
GPS N 28 26.057 W 80 41.757
Google Satellite Image

Spruce Creek Park;
6250 Ridgewood Ave. Port Orange 386-322-5133
A natural blackwater stream, Spruce Creek enjoys an Outstanding Florida Waterways designation due to its relatively pristine condition. There are few examples of this type of river left undisturbed in Florida. The term "blackwater" refers to tannic acid staining caused by swampy vegetation in the low-lying upper reaches of the creek. The navigable portion of the creek itself begins in a shallow cypress swamp some 10 miles upstream from its confluence with the Halifax River. This swamp gives way to a narrow stream that very gradually broadens downstream into Strickland Bay. As the water courses toward the coast, the associated aquatic habitats gradually change from typical freshwater hardwood forest to freshwater marsh to mangrove shorelines and salt marsh in a classic estuarine ecosystem. The biological diversity and contrast between upstream and downstream habitats in the Spruce Creek watershed make this river an extremely unique natural area that supports a tremendous amount of wildlife. Historically, a large indigenous Native American habitation was nestled around the Spruce Creek basin. One of the largest prehistoric earthenworks in Florida, the Spruce Creek Mound, is located on the creek on a high bluff. The site functioned as a major ceremonial and political center for the Timucuan Indians. Lesser mounds are scattered throughout surrounding areas.

Directions: From the intersection of SR 44 and US 1 in New Smyrna, go north 4.8 miles on US 1. There is a sandy beach on the east side of US 1, just south of a bridge. From the launch area, go under the bridge and paddle west through Strickland Bay to enter Spruce Creek or south to enter Turnbull Bay, a large estuarine area. You can paddle east through the mangrove islands to reach the Halifax River, from which it is about a 1.5-mile paddle south to reach Ponce Inlet. Nestled under tall pines just northwest of the US 1 Bridge, Spruce Creek Park has rest rooms, picnic tables, nature trails and a camping area. There is a canoe launch next to the park's fishing pier, however boats must be dragged quite a distance and it is unusable at low tide (too much mud). It is much easier to launch from the sandy beach off of US 1. This site is south of the park entrance. If approaching from the south the launch site will be on the right just before the first of three small bridges taking US-1 across the Creek to the park.
GPS N 29 05.673 W 80 58.270
Google Satellite Image
GPS US-1 Launch Site
N 29 04.947 W 80 57.825
Google Satellite Image of US-1 Launch Site

River Breeze Park
Volusia County's Riverbreeze Park is the closest launch for access to dozens of islands that fill the waterway from Oak Hill northward to the New Smyrna Beach Causeway and beyond. From the boat ramp, paddle south to get around a large spoil island and into mangrove-lined backcountry waters. Low tide exposes mud flats and oyster bars that in fall, winter and spring attract a wide variety of wading birds and shorebirds; American oystercatchers are fairly easy to find. Dolphins and manatees are commonly seen in the deeper waters of the intra-coastal waterway. A compass is helpful as it is easy to become disoriented in the puzzling maze of waterways found here. This beautifully shaded park has bathrooms, picnic pavilions and several boat ramps. Camping is permitted.

Directions: To reach Riverbreeze Park, go north on US 1 two miles from the yellow caution light in Oak Hill. Look for a brown sign identifying the park. Go east to the park entrance on the left. Visit volusia.org/parks/riverbreeze.htm or call 386-345-5525 for information.
N 28 53.719 W 80 51.239
Google Satellite Image


Turnbull Creek
Turnbull Creek can be found just North of the Brevard County line in Volusia County on US-1 between Scottsmoore and the Town of Oak Hill. Heading south on US-1 you will pass the merge between SR-3 and US-1, then cross a bridge over a railroad track. Just south of the bridge the highway crosses Turnbull Creek on a level bridge. It is fairly easy to miss until you're right on top of it, so slow down real soon after the railroad bridge. Here is where you put in. From the South, you will see the railroad bridge before you see the bridge over the creek soon after entering Volusia County. If you cross the raised bridge over the railroad tracks you have gone about half a mile to a mile too far. After putting in at the US 1 Bridge, you have two choices, into the swamp (North) or towards the Lagoon (South). Paddling to the north takes you from the beginnings of the salt marsh habitat near the bridge, and rapidly the vegetation changes to a more freshwater environment. There will be a point where the treeline seen across the marshgrasses merge across the creek, but there is an small opening to fit through. Then the scenery changes dramatically. You find yourself in a narrow creek and shaded by trees growing from the wetlands until the creek opens into a most beautiful pond. The pond itself does not seem to have a channel leading into it.
Paddling south from the US-1 put in point, the current slows, the creek widens, and the habitat is definitely becoming salt marsh. This is a birdwatchers paradise! White Pelicans, Egrets, Herons, and other waterbirds are in abundance. This is one of the last truly pristine salt marshes left in the entire Indian River Lagoon system unaltered by man. This is a very relaxing paddle and a chance to experience one of the lagoon system's most unique habitats.
GPS N 28 49.232 W 80 51.593
Google Satellite Image (US-1 Launch Point)
Google Satellite Image (North Channel)