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Al V

Manatee Cove Park, Merritt Island
Florida USA
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Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by:
  • Date Submitted: 9/2011
  • Location: Merritt Island, Florida USA
  • Class: 1 - Typically flat water on the Indian River can become wind blown, but the cove itself is sheltered and typically remains calm.
  • Distance Paddled: About 4 miles round trip
  • Water: brackish
  • Wildlife: Manatees, redfish, trout, mullet, ibis, egret, heron, pelicans, osprey
  • Special Regulations: It is illegal and harmful to harass or feed manatees. Do not approach too close to them or cause them to change their behavior involuntarily. Let them come to you if they want. Never feed wildlife as the unnatural foods can harm them and the act of being fed changes their natural behavior to obtain food on their own. Such changes in behavior are often also harmful to wildlife.

Entry and Exit - Manatee Cove Park

  • Directions:
    • From Interstate 95
      • Exit onto Rt. 528 east toward Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center
      • Continue east over across the Indian River causeway traveling about 7.8 miles
    • From US 1
      • Turn east on Route 528
      • Cross the causeway over the Indian River traveling about 2.7 miles
    • Turn left (north) onto State Route 3 (SR 3) also known as Courtenay Parkway North
      • Travel 3 miles
    • Turn left (west) onto Porcher Rd.
      • Travel 0.4 mile
    • Turn left (south) onto North Tropical Trail
      • Travel 0.2 mile
    • Turn right (west) into Manatee Cove Park
    • Continue to the entry into the cove at the end of the road
  • GPS: N 28.44663° W 080.72065° (actual)
  • Fee: None
  • Description: small beach
  • Parking: adjacent paved
  • Facilities: Restroom on the park grounds, some picnic and play areas at another parking lot in the park.
  • Security: Relatively secure location to leave unattended vehicles.
  • Special Handicap Access: none

Where We Paddled and What We Saw

This is one of the best places on the east coast to see manatees. Brevard County has more manatees than another other area of similar size in the world. (Other outstanding paddling venues to see manatees are on the west coast of Florida in the winter, when manatees swim up the crystal clear spring-fed rivers; Crystal River and the Homossassa River)

As we prepared out kayaks and canoe, we looked across the cove and could see the large round shapes of resting manatees and the occasional rear flipper protruding above the surface of the cove. (see photo)

When manatees sleep, they may sink just below the surface and then periodically surface automatically to breath and continue to sleep. If you accidentally paddle over a sleeping manatee in shallow water and startle it awake with your boat on top of it, it is likely to try to swim out from under your boat quickly with its powerful tail, moving your boat forcefully up and down and splashing. Don't panic. You may get wet but most probably won't get hurt at all.

As we exited the channel from the cove into the Indian River, we turned right to paddle north past several islands.

Just beyond those islands in a small bay (a great spot for trout and fishing) we paddled to the mouth of a small channel with a few old fence posts across it. (photo at right).

GPS: N 28.45604° W 080.71986° (actual)

As we paddled into that channel, we could smell sulfur, the sign of well water surfacing into the channel.


The small channel was surrounded by some large trees decorated with hanging Spanish moss, a common enjoyable sight in Florida.

The channel narrowed and continued to the south, but was blocked by fallen brush we chose not to penetrate.

The end of the main channel had an old cement seawall that probably once marked the perimeter of the artesian well.

We paddled back to Manatee Cove around the three island where we saw many birds and redfish.

Next time, we'll bring our fishing tackle.

It's also possible to paddle about 2 miles north from Manatee Cove to Pine Island.