We came to Cocoa Beach for our beach vacation this year so that we can visit Kennedy Space Center which is less than a 15-minute drive from there and can hopefully watch a rocket launch by SpaceX. Situated on the Space Coast of Florida, the city of Cocoa Beach is known for its family-friendly beaches and surf breaks. With a population of around 13,000, it is home to many astronauts and NASA employees. It’s also known as the hometown of the greatest surfer of all time Kelly Slater.
For our stay, we rented a condo unit in the Sandcastles Condominium complex.
We were delighted to find out, on getting there, that our Sandcastles condo has a very similar layout to the condo we enjoyed on Tybee Island, and that there is a hot tub right next to the swimming pool. This worked out for us on this trip because the boys would enjoy sitting in the hot tub after their swim in the cool ocean water and swimming pool. James would amuse himself by inflating his swim shirt in the hot tub.
A little bit of history
Cocoa Beach area was first settled after the American Civil War by a family of freed slaves who were considered the first non-native settlers. The area was then known as Oceanus. In 1888, a group of men from the nearby city of Cocoa started developing the area. In 1925, the town of Cocoa Beach was incorporated and officially established. By 1939, the town had 49 residents.
During WWII, German U-boats torpedoed the ship La Paz and sank the SS Laertes off the shore of Cocoa Beach. Shortly thereafter, the federal government ordered a blackout of the area for the remainder of the war.
During the 1960s, Cocoa Beach started its major growth with a population increase of 1000% mainly as a result of the U.S. space program. After manned space flights, the town would hold parades in honor of the astronauts.
Our activities in Cocoa Beach
The boys enjoyed swimming in the ocean, in the swimming pool and hung out in the hot tub. When the boys played in the sea, David and I would take turns going on long walks along the beach. We also loved sitting back in our beach chairs and watching the numerous surfers as well as some paddle-boarders either practicing or performing in the ocean. It was my first time ever seeing people surf in person, and it was surprising to me how much I enjoyed doing so. Another thing I like doing on the beach is to watch birds and look out for dolphins. I spotted some dolphins on Cocoa Beach this time.
Most days, David and I would sneak out to the beach before 6am to try to catch the sunrise and early-morning activities. There would usually be someone fishing, a few people walking and a lady picking up seashells in an engrossed state of mind. We would also sneak out in the evenings sometimes for our beach walks.
On our second morning there, we captured the sunrise in video in three parts — the growing glow, the emerging sun and the rising sun.
In the condo, we discovered a very old board game of trivial pursuit (dating back to the 1960s) and enjoyed playing it on most nights. In fact, James became so obsessed with the game that he would carry the cards around and ask us questions from them throughout the day.
In Florida, we became a fan of the local grocery store chain called Publix. We found fruits, bakery and deli items in there that we can’t find in Kentucky such as delicious deli salads and sandwiches, Perusivan mangoes, Florida’s mandarins, manzano bananas (apple bananas) and super crunchy French baguettes. As a result, we added Publix to a list of our favorite grocery stores we have come across on our travels: Bi-Lo with its delicious seafood and ice-cream (South Carolina), Ingles with its wonderfully extensive salad bar and nuts section (North Carolina), Hannaford with its fresh mountain blueberries and ready-made salads (Maine).
Atlantic sand pipers
These birds are super lively and fun to watch. They have very short legs and always move in tandem.
SpaceX rocket launch
It was thrilling to be there for our first live rocket launch in person.