Canaveral National Seashore | PARK AT A GLANCE

Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore

Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore


Canaveral National Seashore protects a 24-mile barrier island off the coast of Florida, creating what has become the state’s longest stretch of undeveloped beach. Beaches at each end of the park—Apollo in the north and Playalinda in the south—are accessible by vehicle (bridges connect the island to the mainland). A park road runs the length of each, and the beaches can be accessed from one of the many parking areas along the roads. Due to its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center, a huge tourist draw, and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Playalinda Beach is much busier than Apollo Beach.

Unexpected at a National Seashore are two nude beaches. Access to these is from the very last parking area at both Apollo and Playalinda beaches. The National Park Service follows state and county laws in regards to nudity since there is no federal law addressing the subject, and both nude beaches were established before Canaveral National Seashore was created. At Apollo Beach, which is in Volusia County, nudity is legal, and an agreement was made between the nudists and the National Park Service to keep suits on until 150 yards south of the last parking area. At Playalinda Beach in Brevard County, nudity is illegal, and while arrests have been made over the years, law enforcement tends to turn a blind eye to the matter unless complaints are made. In either location, you can be arrested for lewd behavior or photographing naked children—yes, whole families are known to enjoy the beach. Despite nudity being illegal, the largest crowd is at Playalinda, though this is mainly due to the limited parking at Apollo Beach.

Klondike Beach sits between Apollo and Playalinda Beaches and it is accessible only on foot. A backcountry permit is required to enter the area. You must walk through one of the nude beaches to reach it.

Camping is allowed on designated islands at the northern end of Mosquito Lagoon. A backcountry camping permit is required, and you will need some sort of boat to reach the campsites. Those camping at campsites #1 through #5 can rent a canoe at the Apollo Beach Visitor Center. In the past, the park had two beach campsites, but these were closed in 2016 due to campers trashing the place, and beach camping is no longer permitted.

There are a few short trails in the Apollo Beach area and two historic sites, the Eldora State House and Seminole Rest. Both are open a few days each week and both are accessible by vehicle.

National Park Planner has included reviews of the activities at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge since it and Canaveral National Seashore border each other, and the typical tourist will make no distinction between the two. The Refuge is the best place to see wildlife, particularly birds. You may spot a few alligators in the park, but this is not the Everglades where alligators are as common as dogs. I saw less than a half dozen during my one week visit to the park.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge allows fishing and hunting, both of waterfowl and big game such as deer. Federal, state, and Refuge regulations and licensing apply.


Canaveral National Seashore

The Apollo and Playalinda Beach entrances are gated, so access is restricted to certain times of the day. During the winter the beaches are open from 6 AM to 6 PM, and in the spring, summer, and fall from 6 AM to 8 PM. All vehicles must exit the park by closing time except for those displaying a backcountry camping permit. Last entry into the park is a half hour before closing time.

The Apollo Beach Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The Eldora State House is typically open on Tuesdays through Sundays from 12 PM to 4 PM.

The Seminole Rest Main House is typically open on Thursdays through Sundays from 12 PM to 4 PM, though you can walk the grounds any day during daylight hours.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to visit the official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Canaveral National Seashore.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The Visitor Center is open 8 AM to 4 PM on Tuesdays through Saturdays except when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. This includes Black Point Wildlife Drive, Bio Lab Road, trails, and boat ramps. The exceptions are the Bairs Cove and Beacon 42 boat ramps, which are open 24 hours.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to visit the official Visit Us web page for Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.


Canaveral National Seashore

A daily fee is required to enter the park. See Canaveral National Seashore’s Fees and Passes web page for the latest prices.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

A daily fee is required to drive Black Point Wildlife Drive and Bio Lab Road and to use any of the park’s boat ramps (one fee is good for everything). There is no fee to drive into the park or stop at other places. See Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge’s Visit Us web page for the latest prices.

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Last updated on April 20, 2022
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