Unexpected Adventures at Canaveral National Seashore

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Sometimes the best adventures happen when you lose your way- heck, the BEST adventures happen that way! Plans go astray, maps fly off in the wind- or, like me, you simply get lost.

Intercoastal waterway at New Smyrna Beach
We saw the boys off on their fishing trip. New Smyrna Beach

We launched my husband and son off on a fishing trip- they love fishing! (more on that in another post), from New Smyrna Beach, leaving my daughter and I eight hours of blissful freedom to wander. I did my homework- researched the area for things to do, places to go and asked my hiking sis for recommendations. I had an armload of ideas, from a Sugar Mill to a Sand Dune park (all of which sat quietly on the kitchen counter at home.) There was one place I decided against- Apollo Beach, as site #4 was a nudist beach, or so the folks on TripAdvisor said and travels with kids there…well, no.

I’d decided the Sand Dune Park looked cool enough, and surely a great place to find sharks teeth, as New Smyrna Beach is the capital of shark attacks in Florida, but then came the drive, my daughter and I, a wrong turn here, a wrong bridge there and a navigational system which was taking us goodness knows where. I’d pulled over once trying to set our navigation back on course, but then chucked it in the backseat and told my daughter: “Let’s just see where this road goes.”

And away we went. Driving to a road’s end is fun, like US Highway 1 in Key West. Atlantic Avenue took us to Canaveral National Seashore, so the park ranger told us. We paid the $5 vehicle fee to check it out. She handed us maps, which got tossed in the backseat beside the GPS. Too early too think, read, or anything.( We’d been jarred awake by a 6am false fire alarm) At 8am the place was dead and our first stop took us to the highest shell mound in Florida. Up the boardwalks we went and down the paths. This is nice, I thought, thinking, we can ditch this place and find a beach somewhere…

Canaveral National Seashore
Turtle mound boardwalk, Canaveral National Seashore

And then we hit site  beach number 3. Wow. Nice. We kicked about for a while, collected shells, and eventually got hungry and went back to the car to devour the potato chips I had forgotten to give the boys. Let’s drive to the end, I suggested. At this point, my daughter commandeered the map that announced brazenly: Apollo Beach!!!

Canaveral National Seashore
Climbing the boardwalk was worth the views of the intercoastal waters

I think Carl Harvey  said you attract the things you don’t want because you’ve focused on them- like Apollo Beach!. We drove past site #4 straight to the end, which was so crowded we had to drive back and decided to check out #2- tide was out and tidal pools and sandbars abounded. Best Beach Ever! Needless to say, I built a quick sundial to keep track of the time and we concentrated on sand castles, a dam and other beach worthy projects during our girls’ day out.

Canaveral National Seashore
Beach site #3 at Canaveral National Seashore

Thinking of hitting the surf at Canaveral National Seashore?

Things to Know Before You Go:

1.  There are no showers (ugh), but if you head over to the parks on New Smyrna, you can wash that salty water off.

2. There are toilets at each site- kind of like porta-potties in concrete building. Very Stinky. The one at the visitors center was very clean though.

3. Park only in designated parking areas, or you will get towed!

4. Site #1 was a canoe/kayak/boat launch into the intercoastal, Site #2 had the sand bars and tide pools at low tide, site#3 deeper rougher water and people fishing (seemed to be the spot for fishing), site #4- well, you know, and #5 was packed out, so we didn’t make that one. Go early to get a space.

5. Bring sunscreen, umbrella, water, food (no food services).

6. There are no lifeguards,  so watch the kids.

7. Enjoy! for$5 a carload, it’s a cheap day of fun!

Canaveral National Seashore
Sometimes the best adventures happen when you get lost…Canaveral National Seashore


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