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Saltwater, Space Coast South

This section includes destinations for Kayaking the Indian River Lagoon and tributaries in Southern Brevard County and Northern Indian River County.

Mullet Creek / Honest John's Fish Camp
Mullet Creek and Honest John's Canals offer an opportunity to experience a true old-Florida fish camp, one of the last ones remaining, complete with an 1890s Florida pioneer home. A visit to Honest John's really is like traveling back in time. The mile-long drive into the camp winds through old citrus groves and into a beautiful tropical hammock where the fish camp settles into the shore of Mullet Creek. Peacocks, guineahens, ducks, chickens and dogs are likely to greet you upon your arrival. The Smith Home rests under centuries-old oaks and orchid-laden red cedars; the old Malabar train depot serves as a storage shed nearby. Never one to be wasteful, decades ago Honest John Smith floated the depot across the Indian River on a barge to save it from being torn down and replaced. Like the Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach, Honest John's Canals are the product of dredging of historic salt marsh areas for mosquito control in the 1940s and '50s, resulting in a myriad of winding canals and dozens of mangrove-lined islands that have become a haven for wildlife. The canals provide shelter for manatees, dolphins and a wide variety of coastal birds.

Enormous trout, snook, redfish and tarpon likewise are partial to Mullet Creek and the neighboring canals. Needless to say, the fishing here is legendary, as is Honest John, fondly known as the "Cracker of All Crackers." Holder of the camp record of 13 lbs 4 oz for the gator-sized spotted seatrout he pulled from right in front of the baithouse, Honest John was best known for his fanatical aversion to wearing shoes. In fact, upon his death, Honest John was buried without his shoes, and all six pallbearers attended the funeral in their bare feet. Over the years, tall Australian pines have taken over Honest John's islands, providing shade during hot summer days and resting places for brown pelicans, anhingas and ospreys. There is no other sound like the gentle whoosh of the wind whispering through those pines. Honest John's has easy access to the Indian River Lagoon, with scenic views of mangrove shorelines.

Directions: Go south from Melbourne Beach on Highway A1A for about 10 miles. Turn right in the driveway one half-mile south of the yellow caution light in Floridana Beach. Look for the Honest John's Fish Camp sign. Canoe and kayak rentals are available. Launch fee is $5.00. For information, call 321-727-2923.
GPS N 27 56.055 W 80 30.216
Google Satellite Image

Long Point Park
700 Long Point Road, Melbourne Beach
FROM US-192 (Melbourne Cswy) go 16 miles south on SR-A1A and turn right into the park.
FROM Sebastian Inlet go 1 mile north on SR-A1A.
This 84.5-acre conservation area and urban district river park offers shoreline fishing, waterfront full service camping, a fishing dock, a pond for wading birds, another pond for swimming, a small bridge connecting to Scout Island for over a mile of nature trails. Kayaking from here provides the opportunity to paddle several islands and channels in the area as well as paddle the lagoon south to the Sebastian Inlet area. This campsite and Sebastian Inlet have both been my favorites since moving to the Space Coast as a kid in the late 1960s.
GPS N 27 52.475 W 80 28.213
Google Satellite Image

Sebastain Inlet State Park
One of Florida's most popular state parks, Sebastain Inlet is a mecca for snook fishing and is easily located on Highway A1A about 15 miles south of Melbourne Beach. When you see the big bridge, you are there. Sebastain Inlet State Park has something for just about everyone. For kayaking the Sebastian Inlet area there are several places to launch from. I highly reccommend against launching within the inlet itself as the currents can be very strong. The northernmost put in is at the Inlet Marina just south of long Point Park. This provides direct access to Cambells Pocket and the maze of islands that lie between there and the inlet itself. Next there is a boat ramp on the Campground (south) side of the inlet. Drive west past the camping area and you will see it to your left on the Indian River Lagoon. South of the Inlet, A1A runs right along the Lagoon and this also makes a great launch site. In addition to the kayaking there are hiking trails, biking trails, good snorkeling, diving, great fishing, boating, two museums, and a great sand bottom shallow swimming and wading lagoon. Don snorkeling gear and swim along the rocks separating the wading lagoon and the inlet and you will see snapper, sheepshead, and many other small fish species. (More info on Space Coast Outdoors Snorkeling page.) There are two museums on site. The McLarty Treasure Museum tells the story about the Spanish Treasrue Fleet of 1715, that wrecked along the Florida southeast coast in that year. The El Capitan was the northernmost shipwreck of the 11 ship fleet that was driven ashore by a massive hurricane in July of 1715 and broke apart on the shallow reefs within a mile of the south jetty. All 11 ships were lost and over 1,000 sailers died. The museum is on the site of the survivors of the El Capitan campground. The Sebastian Fishing Museum tells the history of the area's fishing industry.
GPS N 27 51.683 W 80 26.931
Google Satellite Image


Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
From Melbourne Beach, take A1A south, cross Sebastian Inlet and continue south. Facilities are located on the west side of A1A on the north end of historic Jungle Trail, which is a great birding location itself, especially during migration. From Wabasso, head North on A1A and you will see the entrance to the wildlife refugeand jungle trail on the left before you get to Sebastian Inlet.
Established by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt on March 14, 1903, Pelican Island was the first national wildlife refuge in the United States. It was created to protect egrets and other birds from extinction by plume hunters as hats with plumes had become a fashion rage in the country at the time. This was the first time that the federal government put land on the side for the sake of wildlife. In 2003, to celebrate it's centennial, new public facilities such as an observation tower and boardwalk have been installed. These new facilities are providing the public with the first opportunity, in it's 100-year history, to view the Pelican Island rookery from land and without the use of a boat. Located 1/2 mile south on Jungle Trail, the viewing are includes parking and two foot trials. Park at the Viewing Area; Pete's Impoundment Foot Trail is accessible from the Centennial Trail. Bicycles, horse back riding, pets and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.
By Kayak, Pelican Island can be accessed via a 2.5-mile paddle from the Wabasso Causeway. Along the way you'll pass beautiful mangrove shorelines and small islands. The waters around the island are shallow and clear; it is not uncommon to see dolphins frolicking and gentle manatees loafing. The area between Sebastian Inlet and Pelican Island is a nursery ground for juvenile green sea turtles. You might get lucky and see one of these colorful, endangered turtles feeding on sea grasses. In spring and summer, hundreds of brown pelicans nest on the island, as well as endangered wood storks, several species of threatened wading birds, anhingas, cormorants and American oystercatchers. Sunset brings on a spectacular show as hundreds of birds fly in to the island to roost.
Caution: Like many similar nesting islands in the state, Pelican Island is protected and posted. Please stay offshore of the signs to avoid disturbing the birds. DO NOT go on the island.
GPS N 27 48.218 W 80 25.607
Google Satellite Image


Crane Creek
Crane Creek in Melbourne is accessed from Melbourne Riverview park and paddling north along the Indian River Lagoon to the mouth of the creek. Be careful to avoid boat traffic in the main channel of the Harbor. Turn left (west) into the creek and you will pass the Florida Tech Floating Docks, and the Melbourne Yacht Club, and continue under the railroad bridge. When you see the Melbourne Wastewater Treatment Facility to your left, stay to the left and paddle up the Left Fork in the creek. the creek will soon wind into a seemingly wilderness creek under a tree canopy all the way to the Babcock Street Bridge.
GPS N 28 04.394 W 80 35.953
Google Satellite Image


Turkey Creek Sanctuary
1518 Port Malabar Blvd. NE Palm Bay, FL 32905
Located behind the Community Center and next to the Palm Bay Library at 1502 Port Malabar Blvd. NE, Turkey Creek Sanctuary is over 100 acres of natural Florida along the banks of Turkey Creek. There are jogging paths and a boardwalk through the woods and overlooking the creek with a canoe launch on site. However it is better to put in at A J Goode Park in Port Malabar.

Turkey Creek features spectacular wildlife and scenery with a tropical setting as well as some of the highest bluffs to be seen along a Florida stream and the opportunity to explore a nature sanctuary. The trip begins in a wide estuary, a no-wake manatee zone, where the gentle creatures are often seen peacefully munching on aquatic vegetation. Upstream from the wide mouth of the creek, the waterway moves through a broad region of braided channels. Central channels through Willow Swamp are recommended to avoid residential development on the north and south banks. The character of the creek changes dramatically upstream as residential development and salt-water influence is left behind. The channel narrows and the flow quickens as the creek winds through dimly lit, lush hardwood forest. Precipitous sandy bluffs, the remnants of an ancient coastal ridge, are encountered at the upper reach of the creek. From the tops of the relic beach dunes -- leftovers from the Pleistocene Era of mastodons, giant tree sloths and saber-toothed cats -- classic scrub habitat descends into lush hydric hammock that surrounds the dark waters of the creek. Desert inhabitants like gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake and scrub lizards are right at home in the sandy xeric habitat found on the ancient dunes.

GPS, Sanctuary Main Entrance
N 28 01.016 W 80 36.289
Google Satellite Image, Sanctuary Main Entrance
GPS, Goode Park
N 28 01.788 W 80 34.940
Google Satellite Image, Goode Park (Launch Here)


Goat Creek
Goat Creek is located on US-1 2.8 miles south of the intersection with Malabar Road, and can be accessed by launching from a sandy beach on the western shore of the Indian River Lagoon near the intersection of Valkaria Road and paddling north along the lagoon .4 miles north to the mouth of the Creek. From here Goat Creek is an easy paddle upstream under the US-1 bridge, then a railroad bridge, past a few houses, under a third bridge and becomes a very attractive paddle as the winding creek gets smaller.
Google Satellite Image, Mouth of Creek
GPS, US-1 Launch Site N 27 57.942 W 80 32.548
Google Satellite Image, US-1 Launch Site

St. Sebastian River
The Sebastian River is a three-prong system. The North Prong and South Prong share a common mouth into a wide bay that empties into the Indian River Lagoon. Aside from sharing a common mouth, the two natural prongs are distinct in character. A favorite stopover for manatees, the Sebastian River is one of the last major waterways on Florida's lower East Coast that has not been heavily developed. In addition to manatees, you can expect to see alligators, turtles, gars, hogs, river otters, kingfishers, anhingas, ospreys, bald eagles and other raptors, brown pelicans, cormorants and numerous herons and egrets.
The Sebastian River North Prong flows out of St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. The intimate nature of the North Prong is a welcome contrast to the open expanse of Sebastian Bay. Along the way, vegetation changes from salt-water mangrove habitat to scrubby pine and oak flatwoods to freshwater marsh. The narrow stream meanders through dense vegetation with a wide variety of water birds that take advantage of the many perches. At its upper extreme, the North Prong is like a tunnel through vegetation. There are several choke points where paddlers must negotiate tree branches. Interesting tropical bromeliads and other epiphytes cover the limbs. Paddlers will eventually reach a point where the water is too low and vegetation too thick for further upstream travel. On the way back, stop at the Buffer Preserve's canoe dock to enjoy a break and explore the many hiking trails available.
From Dale Wimbrow Park, the Sebastian River South Prong starts out several hundred feet wide. The very steep north bank ranges from 5 to 15 feet high, with sandy bluffs that are all that remains of relic sand dunes along an ancient shoreline. As you paddle upstream, the waterway narrows considerably and vegetation changes dramatically as you leave brackish waters near the river's mouth. Banks become low and accessible with cabbage palms and oaks leaning out to provide roosts for anhingas and wading birds. Some parts of the waterway are covered over by trees, creating green tunnels. Numerous dead-end false channels await unwary paddlers. A compass and topographic maps are helpful for avoiding these cul-de-sacs. Near the southern extreme, the meanders become tortuous and, in some places, the stream nearly doubles back on itself. Paddlers should watch for submerged deadfalls, especially while negotiating the switchbacks.

Directions: Both Prongs as well as Sebastian Bay can be reached from Dale Wimbrow Park on Roseland Road (CR 505). The park is accessed from either I-95 or US 1. Take the CR 512 exit (Exit 156) when coming by I-95. Drive east on CR 512 to Roseland Road. Turn left on Roseland Road and follow it to the park, which is on the left. If coming by US 1, turn west on CR 505 at the town of Roseland (just north of the city of Sebastian after you cross the Sebastian River) and drive to the park, which is on the right. Camping is available at nearby Donald McDonald Park.
Google Satellite Image, Dale Wimbrow Park
GPS, Dale Wimbrow Park N 27 48.659 W 80 30.211
Google Satellite Image, Donald McDonald Park
GPS, Donald McDonald Park
N 27 49.507 W 80 30.258