Daytona Beach vs. Cocoa Beach

Two of the Atlantic Coast’s biggest destinations, Daytona and Cocoa Beach are both energetic, quirky, and quite unique. You can have fun and thrills whichever you choose. Both destinations have the sun, the wind, the beach, and something else quite special.
Daytona Beach vs. Cocoa Beach

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Daytona Beach is yet another festival-loving city known for its race car draws and rowdy nights. Cocoa Beach is better known for its space frontiers and wild watersports. These cities are just some of the additional reasons why Florida is such a force to be reckoned with in tourism.

Daytona Beach

Known for many years as the “world’s most famous beach”, Daytona Beach boasts 23 miles (37 km) of ridiculously amazing Atlantic coastline. But on top of its obvious seaside beauty, this destination is more than just what meets the eye.

The city is known for its Speedway, has a fascinating past, and offers first-rate cultural attractions. not to mention a calendar full of fun celebrations and events. The city is now well-known thanks to all of these. It appears that fascinating events continue to take place here. With so much to do, the family will love this sun-drenched vacation destination.

What Makes Daytona Beach Unique?

The World’s Most Famous Beach

With its popular draw of 23 miles (37 km) of white, sandy coastline, this Florida beach is bound to be flocked by millions of beach bums each year. Still holding on to its reputation, you’ll see a large billboard proclaiming it to be the “World’s Most Famous Beach” as you enter the city.

Daytona Beach became well-known for high-speed car testing in the early 1900s, which was obviously followed by racing. This made the beach one of the best places to visit for racing fans

The iconic racetrack known as the Daytona International Speedway was built in Daytona Beach and forever changed the city’s image. It was developed by NASCAR pioneer William “Bill” France, sanctioning racing events by the thousands in the next 100 years.

By the 1920s, it had earned the title of “World’s Most Famous Beach.” The speedway has been home to the Daytona 500 since 1959, one of the biggest racing events in the US. With the combination of the beach and the speedway, Daytona Beach has become massive. It has attracted tens of thousands of tourists and racing fans from around the world.

You can find several facilities that help you enjoy your time under the sun even more. The beach has volleyball courts, jungle gyms, watersports, and more. Driving is permitted in some areas of Daytona Beach because the beach there has tightly packed sand. It is arguably safer for shallow diving. You can also rent bicycles close by and ride along the shoreline all day or at dusk and enjoy the sprawling vista.

Daytona International Speedway

The Daytona International Speedway is the most important institution in the city. It is a landmark that helped Daytona Beach’s rise to fame, or rather, back to fame. It is the home of NASCAR one of the most, if not the most famous racing institutions in the entire world.

Bill France Sr. had founded this still-family-owned business in 1947, and it has continued to organize races each year. NASCAR averages around 1,500 races each year and many of which are in the Daytona International Speedway. More than 125,000 people attend these much-anticipated races in Daytona Beach alone.

Several tours are available at the Daytona International Speedway. They are specially made for racing fans and the enthusiastically curious. You can truly immerse yourself in the history of the track as you walk through the garages.

Tours also allow you to get the feel of what it is like being behind the scenes of races. If you want a better view of the 31-degree-high banks, buckle up and go on a Speedway Tour through the infield of the speedway.

On top of immersive tours, you can get a unique chance to take the front seat with a pro-driver. These seasoned drivers can take you to speeds up to 160 mph (257 kph) for an adrenaline-pumping experience perfect for true fans. Try the NASCAR Racing Experience or the Richard Petty Driving Experience as well. You can drive one of these cars for up to 30 laps.

The Festival Capital of Florida

Daytona Beach isn’t only home to an iconic speedway and stunning beaches, it also has an absurdly extensive calendar of festivals. Its roster of festivals can even challenge Tampa, another festival capital in Florida. There will always be a spectacular festival or event in Daytona Beach, no matter what time of year you decide to visit.

If you look at the city’s calendar of events, you’ll find that there are more than 60 famous art, music, and distinctive pop culture festivals. It is easily the Festival Capital of Florida. The city even hosts several state-wide events and festivals.

Thanks to this stellar reputation, the city holds a great roster of events that gives you a taste of everything. From culture and cuisine to motorsports and music, you can celebrate almost anything here.

You can participate in a range of activities, such as outdoor recreation, art, history, and plenty of others. There are even small-scale parties to grand festivals. Learn about local traditions, enjoy live music and dancing, and savor the native cuisine uniquely served at each festival. Here are some of the most unmissable Daytona Beach events:

Daytona 500

Daytona 500 is arguably the most prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar. The Daytona International Speedway hosts the race every, surely showcasing why the city is the US heart of race car driving. Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase a ticket for this incredibly popular event. Fans of motorsports go great distances to watch the 500-mile (805 km) race.

Daytona Beach Carnival

This festive event brings together the communities of Latinos and people from the Caribbean and Africa. The Daytona Beach Carnival takes place during the entire Labor Day weekend. It is one of the most ideal times to visit Daytona Beach. The carnival is a perfect kind of celebration you can get to experience in the city, especially if it is your first time in Daytona Beach.

Halifax Art Festival

The annual Halifax Art Festival is one of Daytona Beach’s major long-standing festivals for many years. More than 45,000 people each year celebrate and honor art in the city. Many even buy at the countless kiosks selling anything from original artwork and crafts to antiques.

You can find interesting pieces such as clothing, jewelry, and even household items. Many of the best shops are lined across the city’s famous Beach Street. The festival offers a chance to admire local artists’ original works. This is also where budding artists make their first art sales.

Daytona Beach Pier and Boardwalk

Built in 1925, the Daytona Beach Pier is one of the city’s most popular destinations and a favorite among both locals and tourists. The 1,000-foot (305 m) pier offers quite a slow and relaxed experience. From fishing and unwinding, to appreciating the stunning views, the pier is a perfect stop.

The famous pier is also easily accessible from the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, yet another trove of exciting things in Daytona Beach. You can explore and enjoy the expanse for free.

It’s a great place to see the sunrise across the ocean or even search for marine life like dolphins and seabirds. Numerous restaurants in the area offer great oceanfront views for those who choose to eat there.

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk offers quite a selection of entertainment for your trip to the city. As you stroll around the boardwalk, you’ll indeed never run out of things to enjoy, whether you’re there for a slower pace or a fun and exciting time.

You can also find several charms and spots along the boardwalk. Several kinds of amusement are readily available for everyone to enjoy, from roller coasters to Ferris wheels. You can even have cafes and restaurants with views of the beach as well.

Cocoa Beach

Located on Florida’s breathtaking Space Coast, Cocoa Beach is jam-packed with all the necessary fun and excitement. It has been consistently called the “ideal beach town” for years, thanks to a plethora of chances for recreational pursuits. No matter the age or type of traveler you are, there will always be something for you here.

Cocoa Beach has every bit of ingredient that makes it one of the most exciting destinations in the entire US. Not to mention its proximity to the Space Coast, it can be underrated. But for those curious and adventurous enough, Cocoa Beach is a worthy holiday getaway.

What Makes Cocoa Beach Unique?


Cocoa Beach is the ideal destination for watersports and several water activities. It boasts the perfect conditions; it is a hotspot for watersports enthusiasts due to its consistently sunny weather, wind, and waves.

Champion surfers, surf shops, schools, and even tournaments all flock around the sand and surf of Cocoa Beach. In addition to having excellent surf, Cocoa Beach is a kiteboarding mecca.


Strong consistent winds, perfect waves, and kiteboarding go hand in hand. And you can experience it in Cocoa Beach. It may be the city’s most famous watersport. Here you may discover excellent kite and surf businesses that also serve as schools. Some of them even rank among the biggest in the area.

Before practicing kiteboarding at sea, you will be taught how to assemble and use the equipment properly. With the help of professionals, of course. The only thing you’ll ever need is a tad of endurance along with some leg and core strength. Beginners must dedicate one to two hours to mastering water-safety techniques.

With the proper training and guidance, almost everyone can enjoy kiteboarding. Even kids as young as 10 to 12. The best months for kiteboarding in Cocoa Beach are from October through May, as the wind and waves are just perfect for all levels. There are shops offering surfing, SUP, and kiteboarding lessons as well as equipment for sale or rental.


The waves and beaches of Cocoa Beach have contributed to making the city yet another surfing mecca on Florida’s East Coast. On top of perfect surfing conditions, the city has become a surfer’s paradise because of how it welcomes and forms wave riders. You don’t only meet quite a population of great surfers but they also teach their craft.

One of the many top-notch facilities and beaches in Cocoa Beach is the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. If you prefer a more local experience, the streets surrounding downtown Cocoa Beach or 2nd Light Beach are great getaways. It is noticeably sparse and quiet, without the occasional noisy crowds.

Nearby beaches like Melbourne frequently provide better conditions. It has breaks and swells better suited for more skilled surfers.

If you want to learn how to surf, there are many surf schools with qualified instructors that can get you up on a wave. For the greatest surfing rentals, go to well-known locations like the Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Cocoa Beach Surf Company.

The Gateway to the Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center has long been one of the Space Coast’s most defining draws and Cocoa Beach is its gateway. Just a short 40-minute drive away on a barrier island, you can get to one of the most unique draws.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is one of the most-recommended Cocoa Beach itineraries. It is home to a breathtaking exploring path, some tragic events, and moving memorials.

Today, the Kennedy Space Center showcases to the public how humanity ventured into the mysteries and vastness of space. Visitors can take part in the center’s many curious displays.

It mainly boasts interactive exhibits and realistic attractions. These features let you experience what these early space explorers felt. The sights, sounds, actions, and sensations.

The Kennedy Space Center also offers tours that let you have lunch with an astronaut and one where an astronaut leads you around. It’s a real-life game. The trip includes photo ops. You can take a snap with NASA spaceflight icons and real NASA flight simulations.

Cocoa Village

There are several cities and towns in the US that passionately claim to be the “historic” Cocoa Village, this one’s downright historical alright. The downtown area of Cocoa Beach was even already inhabited by the very first settlers in the state.

The Historic Cocoa Village was founded halfway through the 19th century. Today, the Historic Cocoa Village offers quite a tourist draw. It is one of the Space Coast’s top entertainment and shopping districts. The art galleries, antique stores, and boutiques sprawled across the old town are all noteworthy. For foodies, it is home to a quite charming array of gourmet restaurants.

Despite its long history, Cocoa Village is a genuine tourist destination. But it is now mixed completely with modern features and amenities. It perfectly balances its historic value while serving as a commerce and entertainment district.

Cocoa Village is also known for its shopping and entertainment charms. The village has quite an aesthetic as well, with all its tree-lined streets perfect for strolling around. It is currently lined with boutique stores featuring both luxury and local items.

If you stroll around Cocoa Village, you’ll find the icons Cocoa Village Playhouse and Porcher House. They are recognized as historic monuments on the National Register of Historic Places. These spots are just some of the curious things you’ll find in the area.

After exploring the nearby Cocoa Riverfront Park, continue your historical exploration. You might even catch some live acts if you go to the park at the right time.

Cocoa Beach

As the name suggests, Cocoa Beach has quite an expanse of sand. In fact, you will have access to no less than 72 miles (116 km) of beachfront. Cocoa Beach is one of the best places that could serve as your base in exploring the Florida East Coast.

You can find great beaches along the majority of the coastline. There is a lot of open space where you can relax, soak up the sun, and watch dolphins and diving birds in the Atlantic.

Whether you’re visiting Cocoa Beach for the sun, leisure, or an adrenaline thrill, it’s ideal for everyone. Surfing is a common watersport in the region, but kiteboarding is a definite favorite as well. Here, you’ll find some of the best wind and waves on the whole East Coast.

Tourists love to visit the beach just below the popular Cocoa Beach Pier. Plus, the lovely pier also has its own quirks and charms. The entire beach length can feel safe as there are lifeguards on duty. You’ll probably see families and groups of friends enjoying beach volleyball or catch. On the waves, it’s also typical to see surfers and other watersports enthusiasts.

Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral is easily accessible from Cocoa Beach, you can’t even separate the two during your trip. Also called the Space Coast, Cape Canaveral is home to Kennedy Space Center, which shaped American space history. From live rocket launches to museums, Cape Canaveral is the perfect itinerary entry to Cocoa Beach.

Curious wanderers and space fans will surely enjoy all the information offered on every tour around Cape Canaveral. But if you’re looking for more than just space trivia, outdoor activities and adventures are available as well. You can camp on the beach and roast marshmallows while watching alligators or play a round of golf while doing so.

Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Cape Canaveral got its “Space Coast” moniker from its wealth of relics and displays at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum. You can see how the space frontier developed over the decades.

You can even see gigantic missiles and spacecraft in the outdoor rocket garden. Additionally, you can also visit the launch site where the first Americans entered space from.

Manatee Sanctuary Park

A perfect spot to hit for people of all ages, the Manatee Sanctuary Park is a 10-acre (4 ha) open-air park near Cape Canaveral. It offers quite a selection of entertaining curiosities and features.

The boardwalk also offers a lot of places to work out. There are also horseshoe pits, trees for shade, a playground for children, and covered picnic areas.

You might even see manatees as they come near the shore feeding on the river grass. Head to the Banana River for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, manatees are still endangered so proceed with caution.

Rocket Launch Viewpoint

The Rocket Launch Viewpoint at Playalinda Beach is one of the most famous spots to visit in Cape Canaveral. As it implies, this is the best vantage point to see rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center.

Located just 5 miles (8 km) off the actual launchpad, you can have great views of flying spacecraft, and setting up cameras are highly encouraged. The beach and the viewpoint are a part of the Canaveral Sea Shore National Park.

For a small entrance charge of about 10 USD, you can easily get the perfect photo and video location of launches. You can also enjoy the view of the surrounding beach.

Is Cocoa Beach Better Than Daytona Beach?

If you’re looking for all kinds of fun and sights, Cocoa Beach is the better option. It has everything from great beaches, and activities, to the Kennedy Space Center itself. It offers more highs perfect for both families and solo travelers.

Daytona Beach, on the other hand, offers thrills and excitement mostly appropriate for adults. From the home of NASCAR to rowdy parties at night, it offers a different flavor of fun for certain audiences.


Daytona Beach or Cocoa Beach for Families?

When it comes to family vacations, Cocoa Beach offers a more family-friendly atmosphere. It has everything families of every size can enjoy. It has beaches filled with activities perfect for kids of different ages. It boasts world-class surfing. Not to mention it’s only a few miles away from the Kennedy Space Center and offers an even bigger thrill for both curious adults and children.

Daytona Beach, on the other hand, is a great vacation destination as well. It has great beaches full of activities for everyone. However, the city is more energetic and oftentimes rowdy for families. It has the NASCAR capital of Daytona International Speedway. And at night a busy nightlife springs and transforms into an even more electric destination.

Which Beach Is Nicer – Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach?

Cocoa Beach’s beauty and conditions make it one of the most special and unique beaches in the US. It pretty much has it all. Cocoa Beach boasts opportunities for trips near the Kennedy Space Center.

You can even have kayak tours, deep-sea fishing, and surfing. Its gentler waves allow for a great surfing experience, especially for beginners. You can even find the world’s largest surf shop here, Ron Jon Surf.

Where Is Cocoa Beach in Relation to Daytona Beach?

Both Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach front the great Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida. Cocoa Beach is located further south of Daytona Beach, over a few miles away.

How Far Is Cocoa Beach From Daytona Beach?

Cocoa Beach is approximately 66 miles or 107 km from Daytona Beach, directly.

Cocoa Beach to Daytona Beach

You can get to Daytona Beach from Cocoa Beach either by taking a bus or driving.

How Long Does It Take to Get to Daytona Beach from Cocoa Beach?

If you’re taking a bus, with transfers it may take around three hours. But if you drive your own car, it will take less than that.

Is Daytona Beach or Cocoa Beach Closer to Orlando?

Cocoa Beach is closer to Orlando, with only a 49-mile (79 km) distance between. Travelers to Orlando often include Cocoa Beach in their itinerary because of close it is. It only takes an hour to drive between them.