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Beach Life Near Orlando

Ponce Inlet
Beach Life Near Orlando
While not on the coast itself, Orlando offers easy access to Florida’s Atlantic beaches, where you can try adrenaline-pumping water sports, laze away the day in a hammock, sip margaritas, or even watch a rocket launch.
By Jack Barr, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Richard Cummins/age fotostock
  • 1 / 10
    Ponce Inlet
    Ponce Inlet
    Just 65 miles from Orlando, Ponce Inlet is a coastal town snuggled between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. A highlight is the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, where exhibits offer an idea of what life was like in 1900s Florida. The second tallest in the United States, the lighthouse itself is a National Historic Landmark. While climbing its 213 stairs is a bit of a workout, it’s worth it for the tropical breezes and incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean.
    Photo by Richard Cummins/age fotostock
  • 2 / 10
    Cocoa Beach and Other Surf Spots
    Cocoa Beach and Other Surf Spots
    Florida produces some of the world’s top surfers, like Cocoa Beach native Kelly Slater, who was crowned ASP World Tour Champion 11 separate times. To catch your own wave, head east from Orlando on Florida SR 528 and you’ll eventually hit top surf beaches like North Peninsula and Sebastian Inlet state parks. Beginners can rent a board and get schooled at Ron Jon in Cocoa Beach, while pros can ride the sets at the “first peak” on the north side of the Sebastian Inlet jetty. If you’re visiting in November, don’t miss the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship at Cocoa Beach.
    Photo by John Henley/age fotostock
  • 3 / 10
    Seafront Dining
    Seafront Dining
    When hunger strikes after a day in the sun, head to Coconuts on the Beach in Cocoa Beach, where you can sit on the waterfront deck, dine on a grouper sandwich, and tap your flip-flops to live music. Down the block, Oasis Shaved Ice offers a sweet way to end your evening. Also worth a visit is local favorite Dixie Crossroads, just a few miles north of Cocoa Beach in Titusville. There, you can fill up on corn fritters and broiled rock shrimp, which tastes a lot like lobster.
    Photo by Thuy Vi Gates
  • 4 / 10
    Make the Most of Nature
    Make the Most of Nature
    Nature lovers have plenty to get excited about in Florida, where some 30 percent of the land—much of it near Orlando—is protected for conservation and recreation purposes. At Cape Canaveral National Seashore, you can enjoy miles of unspoiled beaches, spot endangered shorebirds, and kayak in the Atlantic. Sebastian Inlet State Park offers great shelling and snorkeling, while Indian River Lagoon boasts abundant wildlife like manatees. Additionally, North Peninsula State Park, located north of Daytona, features incredible hiking and bird-watching. Look out for roseate spoonbills with their deep-pink plumage, as well as gopher tortoises, which also call the park home.
    Photo by Thuy Vi Gates
  • 5 / 10
    Cotton Candy, Carnival Rides, and Race Cars
    Cotton Candy, Carnival Rides, and Race Cars
    Head to the retro boardwalk and pier at Daytona Beach for some old-fashioned seaside amusement. Here, you can drop some quarters in the arcade, sample saltwater taffy, and ride the beachside Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the ocean. Afterward, visit Ocean Walk Village and the band shell for shopping, dining, and entertainment, or drive your car directly onto the beach and park on the sand. On the subject of cars, the renowned Daytona International Speedway is just down the road, offering everything from races and car shows to “meet the driver” events.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 6 / 10
    New Smyrna Beach
    New Smyrna Beach
    The golden sand of New Smyrna Beach is perfect for walking, biking, and sand castle building. Hit Wild Side, located just before the beach ramp, for shovels and pails as well as rental bikes, surfboards, scooters, and electric carts. Then purchase a daily beach pass, which will grant your entire crew—plus your car—access to the sand. When you need a break from the sun, walk down historic Flagler Avenue and soak up the beach-town vibe. Grab a latte at Nichols Surf Shop, browse local art at Galleria di Vetro, and munch on corn sprinkled with paprika-lime salt at Café Verde. Also be sure to check out the old-fashioned Coronado/Mainland Shuffleboard Club, established in 1937.
    Photo by Raphye Alexius/age fotostock
  • 7 / 10
    Get Out on the Water
    Get Out on the Water
    In Central Florida, there’s no shortage of ways to get out on the ocean. If you want to learn a new water sport, Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach offers kiteboarding lessons that will having you flying in no time. Central Florida Paddleboarding features rentals, lessons, and tours in New Smyrna and throughout Orlando, while New Smyrna Stand Up boasts a romantic wine-and-cheese paddle at sunset. For something more adventurous, try parasailing, Jet Skis, or windsurfing—beachside vendors provide equipment and some instruction. Even kids can get their feet wet with boogie boarding or skimboarding. Additionally, many marinas offer boat rentals.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 8 / 10
    Where to Get Your Surf Gear
    Where to Get Your Surf Gear
    Orlando and its nearby beaches offer a variety of surf shops, from over-the-top megastores to small, locally owned shops. The iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, with locations in Orlando and Cocoa Beach, retails all things beach and surf, including sand pails, swimwear, and surfboards. The Cocoa Beach outpost is even open 24/7, 365 days a year. Other big shops include Cocoa Beach Surf Company and Maui Nix at Daytona Beach, where you can pick up a pair of shades, a rubber alligator, or a coffee mug. Be sure to also check out smaller outlets like Epic in Cocoa Beach, Quiet Flight and Nichols Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach, and MadDog in Daytona Beach. In addition to necessary—and not so necessary—beach gear, many shops offer surfboard rentals and lessons.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 9 / 10
    Hook, Line, and Sinker
    Hook, Line, and Sinker
    Recreational fishing is a Florida tradition. Try your hand at the local pastime by chartering a deep-sea or backcountry boat and guide, which can be easily found at most beach enclaves. Not only will they show you the ropes, they’ll provide all the necessary gear and licenses, making the experience relatively affordable for families and large groups. If you’d rather stay on dry land, you can opt for shore fishing, though you’ll need to secure a license and follow strict regulations. To avoid crowds, drop your line during the early morning or evening, or head to a more secluded beach, like Playalinda in Cape Canaveral.

    Photo by John Lambert/age fotostock
  • 10 / 10
    Castles in the Sand
    Castles in the Sand
    If your idea of a perfect beach day is kicking back and burying your toes in the sand, head straight for Indialantic, Melbourne, or Satellite. Despite being developed, the beaches are never too crowded, meaning you can relax in peace. For dinner, snag a patio table at Bonefish Willy’s Riverfront Grille in Melbourne and treat yourself to fresh seafood, or head to Bunky’s Raw Bar in Indialantic and get busy shucking oysters and clams.
    Photo by age fotostock