The USA Today newspaper recently asked "Dr. Beach", a noted authority on the subject, to rate the best Florida beaches, not only for the beach itself, but also for on-shore activities. Cocoa Beach was ranked near the top not only because it is a nice beach, but also because of the many things to do nearby. Specifically mentioned were the cruise port, Kennedy Space Center, Ron Jon Surf Shop, and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Cocoa Beach is well-known for outdoor activities like surfing, parasailing, kayaking, and air boating. Some of the world's best surfers, including the legendary world champion Kelly Slater, are from Cocoa Beach.
Dr. Beach also likes Siesta Key, Clearwater Beach, South Beach, and Key West, among others. His pick for best beach last year was Siesta Key. See www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012121228003 for the full list.
In a separate study, the ocean water quality around Brevard County, including Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, was rated among the best in the USA. See www.pqasb.pqarchiver.com/floridatoday/access/2698157081.html?FMT=ABS&date=Jun+28%2C+2012 . This may be because much of the shoreline in Brevard County is part of the Canaveral National Seashore and 128,000 acres is included in the adjacent wildlife refuge. Both areas carefully protect their environments and development is strictly limited.
Cocoa Beach is the closest ocean shore to Orlando's theme parks, about 60 minutes, and is only about 45 minutes from Orlando (MCO) airport via the Beachline (SR 528) Expressway.Edited: 4:21 am, January 08, 2013