Cocoa Beach vs. Clearwater Beach

Jam-packed and popular, Cocoa Beach and Clearwater Beach have to be a no-brainer. Whether you’re up for something-something on the sand and waves, or just exploring every cosmopolitan high. These resort cities are just some of Florida's gems that are at the top of their tourism game.
Cocoa Beach vs. Clearwater Beach

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Clearwater Beach, while perfect for families, also offers adventures and excitement. Cocoa Beach, on the other hand, has all those. Plus, a bit of an outstanding history with space. Whether you’re with family or friends, these places are the most recommended.

Clearwater Beach

On the Gulf Coast, Clearwater Beach is well known for its white sand and crystal clear waters. Here, there are many things to do to keep you busy. Families of every size will surely enjoy a holiday here because there are so many family-friendly attractions.

You’re sure to have a great time on vacation in this laid-back beach town. Whether you’re there to create lifelong memories with loved ones or to explore nature.

What Makes Clearwater Beach Unique

Beach Walk

The legendary Beach Walk in Clearwater Beach is one of its most famous landmarks. The promenade boasts the most picturesque views of the beach while being home to a slew of hotels and businesses as well. Imagine having the white sand beaches and crystal-clear water on one side, and palm trees, shops, and hotels on the other.

You can visit many of the restaurants and coffee shops along the beach walk. It is lined with some of the best homegrown spots where you can get a taste of the local flavors. People-watching is also best done across the many alfresco spots. As you dine and chill across the walk itself, you can easily take in the gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico.

The boardwalk also provides easy access to the beach as you enjoy how blessed the city is with its constant sunny days. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas as you soak in the wonderful vibe of one of the most famous beaches in the US. To better enjoy the beach, you can also collect several exquisite shells along the sand.

You can also try your hand at surfing just across the boardwalk. This is is easily enjoyable in the area thanks to the abundance of sun and consistent winds. But if you want to stay on the boardwalk, you can take the perfect bait and try out fishing in the famous Pier 60.

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Pier 60

Your Clearwater Beach experience wouldn’t be complete without a stroll around the iconic Pier 60. It is the most jam-packed and happening spot in the famous Clearwater Beach Walk. You can fish during the day, and amazing catches can be found at any time during the day. There are several rental shops for aspiring anglers just before the pier.

The pier also offers delights for the young. You can find quite an arrangement of playgrounds just along the sand from the pier and boardwalk. Kids will surely enjoy this exciting strip especially as the beach walk itself is a family-oriented area.

On top of the many delights it offers under the Florida sun, the pier is even more alive as the sun starts to go down. It is home to the famous Sunsets at Pier 60. The pier transforms into a center of entertainment and curiosity. From street performers to live music, it is the best place in the Clearwater area to visit at night.

You can also find quite an array of curious finds across the many pop-up stores available. From quirky souvenirs to local specialties, you can find quite a vast array across the pier. Catching the sunset festival in Pier 60 is one of the must-dos when you’re visiting Clearwater Beach, or even the city itself.

Dolphin Watching

The Gulf of Mexico has always been a place of wonder, not just for its beauty but for the life it holds. Across the vast beauty of the Gulf of Mexico, it is home to some of the most magnificent creatures in the world.

Pods of dolphins can be seen during the right seasons near Clearwater Beach. Thanks to this rich opportunity, there are many tours on offer for everyone curious enough to see these marine animals for themselves.

The famous Dolphin Adventure tours offer the best experience as it sets you out to the sea as you watch dolphins thriving in their natural habitat. Plus, you can also purchase much-needed refreshments on board, perfect for a sunny trip across the water. The tour also provides information and trivia about the local marine fauna.

Apart from Dolphin Adventures, you can also choose from the many cruise lines in Clearwater. They have several excursions on offer, with fantastic views and amenities to add.

Water Tours

It is easy to conquer the waters of Clearwater Beach thanks to its constant sunny days and perfect conditions. Tours across the surrounding area come in all kinds of modes imaginable. You can have tours from the seas to the very skies.

However, the best mode of transport is the many water tours available in the city. These tours may be done on ships and boats, but you can always expect some sort of twist.

Here are some of the most recommended:

Pirate-Themed Cruise

Southern Florida has always had a history with pirates and buccaneers. This has stuck through the many celebrations and traditions of many cities in Florida. Clearwater Beach clearly remembers this interesting part of history and has applied it to a unique twist in its tours.

Perhaps the most entertaining boat/ship tour in all of Clearwater Beach is Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise. This particular cruise has role-playing and live entertainment on board. It is a favorite among families with smaller children. This goes on until the ship docks back into Clearwater Beach.

The Calypso Queen

The Calypso Queen is one of the most unique cruise ships on the beach. It boasts three levels each filled with twists and quirks offering fun and excitement. The tour offers ridiculously gorgeous views of the gulf and the exciting shores of Clearwater Beach.

If you love to drink on cruise tours, you can pick a wide range of poison in the ship’s two full-service bars along with some complimentary drinks. You can catch the cool sea breeze along with the Calypso Queen’s overt Caribbean vibe.

Private Boat Tour

Clearwater Beach’s streets and sand are always full of people with it being one of the most touristy places in the region. You can expect to find places to be very crowded, and the best way to escape is to get a private boat tour. If you have the budget and want to make the most out of your Clearwater Beach, this is one of the best options.

Private boat tours are usually on a double-decker boat that tours across the Gulf of Mexico. You can check out a variety of marine animal species around the seas, such as dolphins and stingrays. The tour also takes you to a slew of different beaches and provides swimming, snorkeling, and shelling experiences.

Cocoa Beach

One hour’s drive east of Orlando on Florida’s stunning Space Coast is Cocoa Beach. The area has been dubbed the perfect beach town and offers countless opportunities for leisure activities. It is perfect for almost anyone, from families to thrill-seeking adults.

You’ll find everything you need in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast region to make an epic gulf adventure. Whether you’re planning a family beach vacation, leisure travel, or a weekend getaway, Cocoa Beach is an underrated spot.

What Makes Cocoa Beach Unique?

Watersports

With sunny conditions and continuous wind and waves, Cocoa Beach is a perfect mecca for watersports and many water activities. It is home to champion surfers, surf shops and schools, and even surfing competitions. On top of the great surf, Cocoa Beach is also a kiteboarding capital.

Kiteboarding

With great winds and surf, comes great kiteboarding culture as well. You can find top-notch kiteboard and surf shops here that double as a school. Some of which are even the largest in the region.

You can learn how to safely assemble the equipment and utilize it before heading out to sea to practice kiteboarding. The sole prerequisite is a little amount of endurance, coupled with some core and leg strength. Beginners must spend one to two hours on water learning skills.

Everyone, from young children to senior citizens, can enjoy kiteboarding. October through May are the ideal months for kiteboarding in Cocoa Beach. The shop provides classes in kiteboarding, SUP, and surfing, as well as equipment for purchase or rental.

Surfing

Located right on the East Coast of Florida, the waters and beaches around Cocoa Beach are considered to be surf capital in themselves. Thanks to the right conditions and the development of a slew of world-class surfers, Cocoa Beach is yet another mecca for the watersport.

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The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is just one of the excellent amenities and beaches that Cocoa Beach has to offer. The Streets near downtown Cocoa Beach or 2nd Light Beach are wonderful breaks sans the crowds if you like a more local experience. For more experienced surfers, Melbourne and the Beaches routinely have superior breaks and swell.

There are many surf schools with qualified teachers available to get you up on a wave if you want to learn how to surf. You can head to iconic places such as the Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Cocoa Beach Surf Company for the best surfing rentals.

The Gateway to the Kennedy Space Center

Cocoa Beach has long been considered the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is situated on a barrier island approximately 40 minutes north of Cocoa Beach. It is the location of a spectacular route of exploration as well as some poignant tributes and tragedies.

The Kennedy Space Center now serves as the public face of humanity’s flight into space. This curious facility also allows visitors to participate. It features interactive, highly realistic attractions. You can experience some of the sights, sounds, motions, and sensations that these early space explorers felt.

The facility also offers lunch with an astronaut and a guided tour with an astronaut. It is a live-action game. The tour features genuine NASA missions and photo opportunities with NASA spaceflight icons.

Cocoa Village

While many cities claim to be “historic,” Cocoa Village, the original downtown area of Cocoa, is historically significant. It was even initially populated in the middle of the 19th century.

Historic Cocoa Village was established in the middle of the 19th century. It is now regarded as one of the best entertainment and retail areas on the Space Coast. There are several impressive boutique businesses, antique shops, and art galleries here. It also has quaint gourmet restaurants all throughout.

It has become a true 21st-century tourist destination today. The area is both a shopping and entertainment area that also preserves its historic value.

The popular entertainment and shopping area of Cocoa, Florida, is Cocoa Village. Visitors stroll through the village’s tree-lined streets with a variety of quirky shops and relaxed dining spots.

The National Register of Historic Places lists Cocoa Village Playhouse and Porcher House as historic landmarks. Visit the neighboring Cocoa Riverfront Park after your historic sightseeing. If you visit the park at the proper time, you might even see some live performances there.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is home to a lot of sand, as the name would imply. In fact, if you choose Cocoa Beach as your home base for your Florida family vacation, you’ll have access to no less than 72 miles (116 km) of coastline. Most of the coastline is made up of excellent beaches. There is plenty of open space where you may rest, sunbathe, and watch the Atlantic for diving birds and dolphins.

Cocoa Beach is perfect for everyone, whether you’re here for the sun and relaxation or the adrenaline rush. The area is popular with water sports like surfing. You’ll find some of the greatest waves anywhere on the East Coast here.

The beach just next to the famous Cocoa Beach Pier is a favorite among tourists. The sandy stretch is safe with lifeguards. You’ll likely see groups of families and friends playing catch or beach volleyball. Surfers are also a common sight on the waves.

Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral, sometimes referred to as the Space Coast, combines stunning beaches with space history. As soon as you arrive in Cape Canaveral, you can see how NASA and American space history have shaped this special community. You can check out history museums to actual shuttle launches.

For those that are curious, Cape Canaveral contains much information. There are outdoor activities where you can see alligators while playing a game of golf or camp on the beach while roasting marshmallows.

Air Force Space and Missile Museum

The Air Force Space & Missile Museum’s artifacts and exhibits are what give Cape Canaveral its moniker, the Space Coast. You’ll see enormous missiles and spacecraft in the outdoor rocket garden. You can also stand on the launch pad that carried the first Americans into space. The development of rocket engineering is also showcased here.

Manatee Sanctuary Park

A 10-acre (4 ha) open-air park in Cape Canaveral, Manatee Sanctuary Park is a fun destination for all ages. Numerous workout facilities and jogging routes can also be found on the boardwalk. There are also horseshoe pits, shade trees, a playground for kids, and covered picnic places.

You can spend the evening looking for wild manatees as they come close to the shore to eat on river grass at this lovely spot along the Banana River.

Rocket Launch Viewpoint

The best place to witness spaceships launch into orbit is from the rocket launch viewpoint at Playalinda Beach. You can set up your camera on the beach, which is a part of Canaveral Sea Shore National Park, just 5 miles (8 km) from the launchpad. You may set up the ideal photo and film spot on the land and shore with full access for a mere 10 USD entry fee.

Is Cocoa Beach or Clearwater Beach Better?

With a plethora of activities in and out of the water and a rich roster of sites and places, Cocoa Beach is the clear winner. Clearwater Beach has its draws and excitements, but Cocoa Beach offers even more. You can have surfing and kiteboarding, a historical village, and spaceships. Where else can you get that in the state?

FAQ

Is Clearwater Beach Warmer Than Cocoa Beach?

Clearwater Beach is warmer, especially during the summer. It also sports calmer waves and irregular winds. Cocoa Beach on the other hand is slightly colder and is popular for its huge waves. This makes it one of the best places in the continental US for water sports.

How Far Is Cocoa Beach From Clearwater Beach?

The distance between Cocoa Beach and Clearwater is 135 miles or 218 km, directly. If you want to take the high road, the driving distance is approximately 155 miles or 250.8 km.

CAN YOU HAVE A PRICELESS FAMILY VACATION ON A BUDGET?

Are you ready to take the family on an epic vacation, but worried about the cost? 

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CAN YOU HAVE A PRICELESS FAMILY VACATION ON A BUDGET?

Are you ready to take the family on an epic vacation, but worried about the cost?

Our guide and checklists have got you covered! 

From affordable flights and accommodations to budget-friendly activities, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to enjoy a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank.

Get the guide now and start planning your dream family vacation on a budget!
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