Eco Escape: A Sustainable Trip to the Space Coast

Samantha Mellone

A Sustainable Trip to the Space Coast

Discover a new kind of Floridian family vacation. Along the coastline of Cocoa Beach, kids can connect with nature, marvel at scientific exploits, and even help preserve the planet.

Experience Unique Wonders


A visit to this beach town is made better by a few special events you can’t see anywhere else.

Bioluminescence
During the hot summer months, the sun charges up an algae in the water, known as dinoflagellates. At night, they come alive and light up the sea. It’s a rare treat—this is the only place you can see them within all of North America. 

Rocket Launches
Cocoa Beach is known as the Space Coast because it’s home to the Kennedy Space Center, where the United States kicked off its journey into the final frontier. Today the center is still active, and if you time your vacation right, you just might see a rocket launch right from the beach.

Sea Turtle Migrations
On the shores of this sandy city from March to October, mama turtles trek out from the ocean to lay eggs on the shore. Families can watch the phenomena with the help of local tour guides, who also protect the nests.

Eat Well


The coastline is full of local family-friendly options to keep everyone happy.

The Fat Donkey
This creamery opened four years ago to rave reviews (from tourists and locals) thanks to their delicious array of locally-made flavors.

Green Room Café 
Serving a range of American classics, this organic eatery is designed to satisfy vegans, vegetarians, and those with specialty diets. Don’t miss the wide array of refreshing acai bowls and smoothies.

The Cocoa Beach Pier 
There are few places that offer a better view than this colorful outpost. Many of the restaurants here feature locally caught fish and the entire pier has ditched plastic straws for pasta straws.

Settle In


Our pick of hotels in Cocoa Beach: the Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort. Originally a housing court for engineers at Nasa during the space race, the site has been upcycled into a family-friendly hotel. It features a variety of eco-elements–like a pool bar made from natural materials and totems that were renovated into beach showers. Kids will love splashing about in the pool, playing in the water park, and floating down the miniature lazy river 

Bonus! The pool system uses recycled water.

You’ll love that the concierge keeps all the beach gear you could ever want (think pool floats, boogie boards, and more) stocked, so you can pack light. 

The property is pesticide free to protect the health of visitors and to preserve local lagoons.

Adventure Out


Go Wild 
Take an eco-tour with Wildside Tours. Kids can get up close and personal with dolphins, pelicans, and manatees. Be sure to point out the manatee water fountains to kids. 

Local homes let the fresh-water waste from their air conditioners out into the salt-water river to help keep the mammals hydrated.

Take Off
You can’t visit the Cocoa Beach Coast without making a stop at the birthplace of the space race, The Kennedy Space Center. Kids can see full size rockets up-close and learn how NASA works to preserve the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where most rockets launch from.

Stock Up on Souvenirs
The iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop is a must-visit while in town. The flagship location is open 24 hours and features an array of takeaways that help give back. Amongst the selection: 40Ocean bracelets whose profits help clean up the ocean or keychains and magnets that help Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation protect the coastlines.

Interested in more things to do at Cocoa Beach? Click here.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of KIWI Magazine. Read the full issue here, or check out the latest from KIWI Magazine.