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Canoeing & Kayaking

Pine Island, Merritt Island FL USA

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This page Copyright 2000 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Art Littlefield, Village Outfitters, Cocoa FL
  • Date Submitted: 8/2000
  • Email:
  • Location: Pine Island Road west of Route 3 in Merritt Island
  • Class: Typically flat water with wind driven waves
  • Distance Paddled: 6 miles round trip
  • Water: brackish
  • Wildlife: Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Ibis, Green Heron, Alligator, Manatee, Mullet, Red Fish, Stingray, Living Sponge, Raccoon, Mangrove (Red, White, and Black), Brazilian Pepper, Pine

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: Take I-95 and exit on SR 528 East toward Merritt Island, Proceed east on S.R. 528 approximately 7 miles to S.R. 3. Exit and turn left (north) over the Barge Canal. Stay on S.R. 3 for 5 miles to Pine Island Road (shortly after S.R. 3 bears to the right). Turn left and follow Pine Island Road 2.5 miles to the entrance to Pine Island Conservation Area (open 7:00 am to 6:00 pm Oct thru Apr., 7:00am to 8:00pm May thru Sept). At the first intersection inside the conservation area, go left and follow the dirt road to the end at Sams Creek. This is the put in. There is a wooden sign that says Sams Creek.
  • Telephone: 321-633-2046 EELS (Environmentally Endangered Lands)
  • GPS: N 28 degrees 29.37 W 80 degrees 43.34
  • Fee: none
  • Description: unpaved firm dirt beach
  • Parking: Adjacent, unpaved (be careful not to park on high dry grass if your car is hot or it could start a fire)
  • Facilities: Portable restroom located just inside the park entrance on the left

Click here for Map of Pine Island

What We Saw

Sams Creek, a wide man made canal goes west for a few yards and then bends due south. Occasionally alligators are seen here with the tops of their heads floating on the surface. We saw four or five on the way out. Great Egrets are numerous here also. White, red, and black mangrove line the sides along with Brazilian pepper in some areas.

After less than half a mile, Sams Creek turns west toward the Indian River Lagoon, and at N 28 degrees 28.77 W 80 degrees 43.66 it opens out into the river at about 0.6 miles. Here the somewhat murky water becomes more clear and you can begin to see grass and sea life below. Also noted here are signs posted on the northeast bank marking the sanctuary boundary and stating that it is closed to hunting.

Far across the river to the west you can see the smoke stacks of power plants in Port St. John. Turn NNW here and follow the shoreline past more mangrove and clear shallow water.

The wind was calm this day and our boat shadows could be seen on the bottom along with occasional sponges, large red fish, mullet, sting rays and horseshoe crabs. The fishing in the shallows was good that day (but of course we didn't have our tackle with us. We passed an old small boat wreck in shallow water, and spotted a large raccoon on the bank just before the vegetation started to switch to more tall pine trees which gave the area its' name.

About a mile into the trip, a small shallow lagoon appears on the right with two outlets to the river at (N 28 degrees 29.06 W 80 degrees 43.84).We don't recommend taking the small canal at the southeast end. It is so narrow one can't turn around, is full of mosquitoes, and doesn't seem to lead anywhere. (Other than that, it's fine.)

About a quarter mile farther on is a larger lagoon with several dead mangrove lining its' entrance. (N 28 degrees 29.19 W 80 degrees 43.89) This lagoon is deeper than the first and seemed full of red fish and other underwater activity.

At 1.6 miles is Pine Island Canal and a welcome rest stop (N 28 degrees 29.56 W 80 degrees 43.89). At the southwest bank of this canal, is a firm bottom and a small dirt landing where several boats can pull up.

Continuing north from the rest stop, we glided over more very clear shallow water with abundant life. Angling to the NNE around the gradual curve of Pine Island, we could see the NASA causeway to the northwest.

After about 2.5 miles and just past an outcropping of mangrove and grass, you can turn east into the Ransom Road Canal (N 28 degrees 30.47 W 80 degrees 43.79). Less than a quarter mile east on the right is a take-out (N 28 degrees 30.47 W 80 degrees 43.69) at which one could easily portage over the road and explore Marsh Pond to the south. We returned the way we came.

At the takeout back at Sams Creek, we saw several manatees surfacing together. The route was a total of about 5 miles excluding side trips. Overall it is an exceptional example of unspoiled Indian River
Lagoon habitat with varied and abundant wildlife.