If you’re looking for a family-friendly kite vacation with easy access to the attractions and entertainments of Orlando then Cocoa Beach is well worth a look. It’s easy to reach from Europe and the US with plenty to keep you busy off the water too!
Cocoa Beach has riding locations for all wind directions and the area is a prime kiting destination. The main spot is known as the ‘520 slick’ in the Bicentennial Memorial Park which lies on the south side of the 520 Causeway in the Banana River. This shallow, flat water spot has a grassy rigging area and can be ridden in any direction, but works best in a northerly. Head there in summer when the thermals come in as it usually blows stronger than on the coast.
The water is pretty shallow except in the clearly marked boat channels. The bottom is silty but with a few sharp rocks and shells, so booties are a good idea when kiting there. It’s also the natural habitat for dolphins and manatees so there are some interesting locals around!
On the coast you’ll find waves of various sizes but typically no bigger than waist to shoulder height, except in winter when hurricanes whip up the bigger swells. If it’s too big, you can always cruise up to Jetty Park where the waves will be smaller and more spread out and downwinders are popular among the locals as you can use the public bus / trolley system to travel back up the coast.
Cocoa Beach is also a great place to learn due to the warm, flat water in the river.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
In winter expect a lot of northerlies (ideal for the 520 slick) which bring with them reliable swell and in spring the wind switches round, blowing steadily from the southeast. The temperature gets very warm in summer and although the wind is generally lighter around then, a thermal effect often builds breezes up to rideable strengths, particularly if you’re foiling or riding your bigger kites.
Hurricane season kicks in from June to November which is when to expect the most waves and you’ll usually be riding anything from a nine to 12 metre for most of the year (bigger in summer).
Water temps range from 28 - 30°C / 82 - 86°F in the summer to 20 - 23°C / 68 - 73°F at their lowest in February. You can ride in boardies / bikinis though the summer but a spring suit is handy in winter.
The air temperature rarely drops below 16°C / 60°F and goes up to 32°C / 90°F in summer. It cools off a little at night but the most you’ll need is a light hoodie / jacket and jeans.
Percentage of days with wind over force 4 / 14 knots
GOOD BREEZE KITEBOARDING teach all levels year round and also offer foil coaching. Lessons are 1:1 (group sessions can be arranged) with safety boat cover on hand using Core, Cabrinha and Slingshot gear which is also available for hire. Good Breeze sell equipment from most of the major brands and instructors speak English and Spanish.
In terms of accommodation, you can expect to pay from $60 to $200 per night and there are self-catering options available too (book early for the summer season).
If there’s no wind then check out the theme parks in Orlando which are a 45 minute drive away, go surfing (this was Kelly Slater’s home town!) or kayak / SUP in the Banana River. There’s also the Kennedy Space Centre which kids (or big kids – highly recommended by Kiteworld's editor) will love and there are beautiful beaches and natural reserves all over this stretch of coastline.
Car hire is readily accessible and easy to organise at Orlando International. There are public transport links as you'd expect anywhere in the US as well as taxis, UBER and the like.
Food and drink
This is a prime seaside location in the USA, so there are lots of supermarkets and everything from fine restaurants to burger joints and the seafood is tasty and generously portioned, of course!
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the closest with direct flights from all over the world. It’s about a 40 minute drive to Cocoa Beach and there are shuttles available, but a hire car is the easiest method.
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