Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Visit to Cocoa Beach, 10/26/2016

Cocoa Beach, FL, is a well-known vacation destination due to its beautiful white-sand beaches and close proximity to the home of the American space program. It was first settled in 1888 by a family of freed slaves after the Civil War. In 1925, Gus Edwards purchased 600 acres and began developing the area. By 1939 there was a gas station, hotel, and post office. The town started to grow after the Cocoa Beach Community Church was built in 1940.

One reason we included Cocoa Beach on our itinerary is that my parents were married here in 1945 (when my dad was serving in the Navy during WWII). I didn't know the name of the small church where they were married (and they are both deceased), although I had seen a picture of them standing in front of it in the past. After doing some research, I am quite certain they were married at the Cocoa Beach Community Church. It was originally built on 3rd Street, but was relocated to its present location at 360 South Orlando Avenue in the 1950s. 

It served as a "starter" church for various congregations over the years until enough funds could be raised to build their own church. It was an interesting connection to my past (or should I say my parents' past) to visit it. 

Next we checked out the "touristattractions in the town. The Cocoa Beach Pier is a happening spot for fishing, dining, bar scene, a little shopping. Dogs, however, are not permitted on the pier or the beach here. 

Whenever I see a scene like this, I burst into song, "Under the boardwalkdown by the sea, on a blanket with my baby, that's where I'll be. ..."

Lifeguards are on the beach during designated hours. Beach gear can be rented and surfing is popular along the pier.

You've got to love these "beach" businesses you find in these communities. 

Alan Shephard Park is a public beach just south of the Cocoa Beach Pier. There is a boardwalk leading to the beach, a large parking area, bathrooms, and sheltered picnic tables, but a daily $15 parking fee! Dogs are not permitted, so, of course, we made this just a quick stop.

There were not many people on the beach when we visited. A flag is flown from the lifeguard stand advising of current surf conditions. One red flag is the most serious of beach warning flags, indicating dangerous currents or high surf (or both). Here it was flying because of the dangerous rip current. Two red flags means that the beach is closed to swimmers. 

The Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, advertised as the "World's Most Famous" surf shop, is a huge 52,000 square feet. The original one, in Ship BottomNJ, was opened by Ron DiMenna in 1961 after surfing became is passion. He moved to Florida two years later and opened the Cocoa Beach store next. In addition to these two stores, there are a total of ten more (in AL, FL, MD, and SC). 

Surfboards and other beach gear can be rented from a building across the street. The statues in the front of the store are pretty cool!

Having been to the Texas Surf Museum (Corpus Christi) and California Surf Museum (Oceanside), we wanted to see the Surf Museum located inside. It is a tiny, one-room, affair with just a few displays (no charge), but it's a start!

This is the Cocoa Beach Ron Jon store, and yes, it is open, 7/24

Everything you might want or need to have fun at the beach can be found in this store. In addition to their own line of beach apparel and accessories, they also carry items from the popular surf culture brands (Hurley, Quicksilver, Billabong, O'Neill, etc.) on two floors.

You can even purchase a surfboard from founder's (Ron) personal collection ($3,500-$6,000) or a modern-day one ($350). 

Anything from the store can be found on-line (, but it's a fun to browse here. It's just not the beach unless you go into some beachwear shops!

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