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Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore is a 58,000 acre park located on a barrier island you can access through New Smyrna Beach to the north and through Titusville to the south. Canaveral National Seashore was created by an act of Congress in 1975 and is home to more than 1,000 plant and 310 bird species. The park has 24-miles of beaches which is the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast of Florida. The northern beach is Apollo Beach, the middle section is Klondike Beach and the southern part is known as Playalinda Beach.

Playalinda Beach

Playalinda Beach

Playalinda Beach is probably the best known of the three for several reasons. First is has thirteen numbered parking lots, second the shore north of Parking Lot #13 has for years been an informal nudist beach. For the record, nudity is illegal in Brevard County but the National Seashore administration won't spend money out of its own budget to enforce a local county ordinance, so enforcement is spotty and infrequent. The third reason it's so well known is that the space shuttle launch facility is clearly visible from the approach to Parking Lot #1. The John F. Kennedy Space Center is at the southern end of the barrier island occupied by the Canaveral National Seashore; this means that access to the seashore is often restricted during launch-related activities at the space center.

Mosquito Lagoon

Mosquito Lagoon borders the other side of the Cape from the Canaveral National Seashore; the Kennedy Space Center is located on the lagoon as well. Mosquito Lagoon is part of the Indian River Lagoon system and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It extends from Ponce de León Inlet in Volusia County, to the north end of Merritt Island this means it runs next to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge too. It connects to the Indian River through the Haulover Canal and divides the city of New Smyrna Beach. The Mosquito Lagoon is has been called the Redfish Capital of the world, several line test world records have been set in the Lagoon.

Wildlife Observation


The Canaveral National Seashore is a habitat for 14 different species of federally-listed threatened or endangered animals; it is the second largest number in the entire National Park Service. These species include Loggerhead, Leather back and Green sea turtles, the Eastern indigo snake, Bald eagles, the Florida scrub jay, the West Indian Manatee and the Right whale. Turtle watching during June and July is a popular thing to do along the Seashore. Turtle watching consists of going to the beach and to watch as the sea turtles come up, nest and lay their eggs, this gives visitors a chance to learn about sea turtles and their conservation. Alligators are also residents in the park especially along the Mosquito Lagoon.


Bird watching is also a popular pastime here. Some birds you might see include: wood storks, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, black-necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, willets, sanderlings and white and brown pelicans.


Turtle Mound Trail

You can go hiking around the seashore and along the self-guided trails. There are several trails through the different hammocks of the area. Cruickshank Trail has an observation tower with views of the marsh. While you enjoy the beaches keep in mind that lifeguards are only around from Memorial Day through Labor Day.


If boating is what you enjoy, you can launch your boat into the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River but you can't drive an airboat through the area. You can rent a canoe and if you have your own kayak feel free to bring it and enjoy the waterways.

If you like to fish freshwater, saltwater, and commercial fishing is allowed with the proper license or special use permit, fishing is subject to size and possession limits so be sure to get all the correct information before you drop a line in the water.

Archeological Sites

At the north end of the park along the Mosquito Lagoon is the archeological site called the Turtle Mound. This site is believed to have been built by the Timucuan Indians between 800 AD and 1400 AD. The Mound is 35 feet high and made up of 1.5 million bushels of oyster shells; the height of the mound offers a panoramic view of the area and is a favorite spot for watching migrating hawks and the many oceanic birds that move along the coast.

Castle Windy still is smaller than Turtle Mound, but one of the more prominent shell mounts in the Indian River area, it extends 300 feet along the shore of Mosquito Lagoon. This site was developed around 1200 A.D. and was used for 300 years by the same people who lived at Turtle Mound.

Dolphin in the waves at Playalinda Beach

Another area of mounds is Seminole Rest. Seminole Rest consists of several prehistoric Timucuan Indians shell mounds dating from 2,000 BC to 1565 AD. The largest mound at this site is Snyder's Mound; the mound is on the shore of Mosquito Lagoon and is approximately 13 feet high. This mound was used as a quahog clam processing center between A.D. 700-1100. Fiddle Crab Mound is a much smaller shell-capped sand mound, built on purpose supposedly as a seasonal base camp to be used by a family during the late winter and spring.

What makes the mounds unique is the fact that few structures this large remain intact today; other mounds along the east coast were used for construction materials for roads. One of the things that has aided in their preservation is two turn of the century buildings and some other small structures. These include the historic Instone house, the historic caretaker's house, a non-historic garage, and pilings from a non-historic boat dock. The Inhouse is a late Victorian style dwelling built sometime prior to 1890, it may have been moved from its original location somewhere else. This is a great site to visit because it has a half-mile wheelchair accessible trail, parking and rest room facilities.

More Recent History

View from Turtle Mound

Another historic place is The Eldora Statehouse, this is the best remaining example of earlier life along Mosquito Lagoon. It's in the Apollo district of the Canaveral National Seashore and tells the story, through exhibits and photos, of the people who lived in Eldora from 1877-1914.

Central Florida Location

If you're vacationing in Central Florida at the Orlando attractions, your just 45 minutes away from the Cape Canaveral and the National Seashore, which is a great place to spend the day getting back to natural Florida.

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