Trip report, July 10, 2010.
Myself and 4 other intrepid explorers paddled in the Banana River Lagoon from Kelly Park (2550 N Banana River Drive, Merritt Island). We had flat water most of the day, saw many interesting creatures, and paddled 15 miles.
Kelly Park is a county park with picnic tables, a playground, bathrooms, an outdoor shower, a boat ramp, and a nice sandy beach for launching nonmotorized craft. It is open during daylight hours for general use and the boat ramp is open 24 hours. Parking is free.
We paddled north from the park on a hot, windless day. The water was glassy and clear. We were greeted by several dolphins. There is a string of small islands in this area which are suitable for picnicking and camping, or just idling. The water is very shallow and the east side of the lagoon is a designated no motor zone, motorized craft are not permitted.
We stopped for lunch at an island and was observed by a very large alligator.
One of the islands was covered with birds such as roseate spoonbills, cormorants, great egrets, great blue herons, and ibis. This sland is posted “area closed” to protect the birds. They likely nest here during season. We enjoyed watching them from 50 feet away. The tide was out and closer approach would have been hampered by mud, anyway. A manatee stopped by to check us out. We ogled the creatures, with the cruise ships from Cape Canaveral and the structures of the Kennedy Space Center as a backdrop.
Our return trip to Kelly Park was marked by some rough water and wind. We also stopped to pick up trash from the islands. The alligator did not reappear.
Directions: Take I-95 to the 528 exit, Cocoa Beach. Go east to Banana River Drive. The park is on the left. To find the islands, paddle north. The islands are on the east side of the lagoon. There are 3 immediately north of the bridge, then there is a long stretch of paddling to the next group.
If you liked this, you may enjoy reading this article about another nearby paddling trail.
Review safety principles here.
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