Canaveral National Seashore


Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore
Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore
Canaveral National Seashore entrance feature

The 57,662 acres of Canaveral National Seashore were set aside by Congress on January 3, 1975. This was an effort to protect the longest (24 miles) stretch of undeveloped beach on the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

The beach is broken into three sections: Apollo Beach at the northern end, Klondike Beach in the middle and Playalinda Beach at the southern end. Just south of Playalinda Beach is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the John F. Kennedy Space Center. During launch times, a large part of Playalinda Beach sees access restrictions.

On the western side of the barrier island that makes up Canaveral National Seashore is Mosquito Lagoon. State Road A1A crosses the area north/south, allowing vehicular access to all areas of Canaveral National Seashore.

About 9 miles south of New Smyrna Beach (at the northern end of the national seashore), you'll find Turtle Mound. At 50' in height, Turtle Mound is the largest shell midden on the mainland United States. The mound is composed of oyster shells mixed with other refuse. It was built by the prehistoric Timucuan people between 800 CE and 1400 CE. Early European explorers used the mound as a landmark and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1970. Many of the plants growing out of Turtle Mound represent the northernmost point of growth for their species, allowed here by the heat retention characteristics of the huge mound of shells.

The Nature Conservancy is active in this area, participating with the University of Central Florida in a 40-acre restoration of oyster-reef habitat in Indian River Lagoon on the very southern end of Canaveral National Seashore.

Sea gulls at Canaveral National Seashore
Sea gulls on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore
Manatees swimming in Mosquito Lagoon
A pair of manatees swimming in Mosquito Lagoon
Boardwalk to the top of Turtle Mound
Boardwalk to the summit of Turtle Mound