How Safe Is Cocoa Beach for Travel?

Cocoa Beach, United States
Safety Index:
92

Picture this.

You’re sitting at the end of a pier at a Tiki Bar listening to the ocean flow by and the hum of reggae music behind you.

You’ve got a tropical drink in hand and the surfers are riding the waves.

Welcome to Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Yes, it’s part of The Space Coast of Florida, and we’ll touch on some of the activities nearby at Kennedy Space Center (KSC, as the cool kids call it), but mostly we’re going to hyper-focus on everything that makes Cocoa Beach special.

You’d think Cocoa Beach got its name from the cocoa-colored sand, but that’s not true.

Nobody is sure how it got its name.

There are a few urban legends out there, so it might make a good talking point with a local when you visit.

If you’ve ever dreamed of surfing, this is the place to start.

The history of surfing goes further back than the space program and you’ll find some of the best equipment and teachers on any Florida coast.

Warnings & Dangers in Cocoa Beach

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

Cocoa Beach is home to just 11,000 people, so doing regular math on the crime statistics is going to make it a bit skewed. You have to consider the millions of people who visit each year and factor that into any crime number you see. Overall, there's a low risk. It's a more laid-back beach town, with nightlife if you want it, but it's not called a "hidden beach" for nothing. Not a lot of people put Cocoa Beach on their vacation plans unless they are visiting KSC.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

You might have several layers of transportation needs and they are all low risk. Cruise ship passengers flying into MCO can get shuttles to Port Canaveral or Cocoa Beach. There are shuttles available from Cocoa Beach to the Port and back. You can use the Cocoa Beach Trolley to get around the city and it also goes to the port. Taxis and rideshares are available. The city has six miles of shoreline which isn't impossible to walk, but a trolley would be a good idea if you don't have a car. This is one place where you can always find a ride in town and nearby to the big attractions without having your car.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

Thieves are more likely to steal from your car than your pocket. There was just one pickpocket report in 2020 and the thief only got away with $1. There's a low risk here.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

On the west side of Cocoa Beach is a place called the Thousand Islands. Those islands weren't always there. A massive hurricane came through and deposited soil on the other side of the barrier island. That's how bad hurricanes can be along these coasts. Severe thunderstorms rip through, mostly in the summer, causing wind and flooding damage and the occasional tornado. There's a medium risk anywhere along the Florida coast because of those things.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

There haven't been more than 10 robberies a year in this city since 2014. It's a low risk.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

Given the proximity to Orlando and the heart of the space system, it's a medium risk as both could be hard targets.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Rental scams are the biggest risk here. All the other ones are mostly targeted at locals. To avoid rental scams, never wire money for a deposit. That's the first sign of fraud. Ask to see proof of a rental license. If they can't provide it, that's another red flag. It's ideal to reach out to a local company in Cocoa Beach and have them assist you. They know the area best and can prove instantly they are licensed. Aside from the rental scam concerns, there's an otherwise low risk.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

As a woman, I'd say just to keep your guard up. There are a lot of people coming and going through Cocoa Beach, especially if you're using public transportation. Don't give away too much personal information, like where you are staying or what your plans are. If you enjoy the Cocoa Beach nightlife, don't drink so much you can't safely get yourself home, or call rideshare for safety.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

Another low risk here as the water meets or exceeds all standards and is tested thousands of times each year to make sure it's safe. Any contamination would be alerted to residents and businesses immediately.

Safest Places to Visit in Cocoa Beach

You have to start at the Cocoa Beach Pier.

This historic pier is now part of the Westgate Resort and has a carnival atmosphere about it.

Several restaurants lead the way to the tiki bar at the end.

Surfing is the thing to do in Cocoa Beach and it is home to the largest surfing store in the world.

Ron Jons is a must-see even if you’ve never surfed a day in your life.

You can learn to surf with beach lessons or you can just watch others ride the waves.

If you want to see a downtown shopping core, you’ll need to head back over the causeway to Cocoa, where the Cocoa Village is a big tourist draw.

You can boutique or souvenir shop and dine on the sidewalk taking in the fresh smell of sea air.

Take a kayak tour through mangroves in the Thousand Islands area.

You can wave your way around the islands and enjoy some peace while looking for a manatee to float underneath you.

There’s even a nighttime kayak tour where you can see jellyfish through the dark waters using bioluminescence.

Placess to Avoid in Cocoa Beach

There aren’t really bad parts of the city here.

It’s a long city with beachside condos and hotels and your typical beachside dining.

The surfing is what makes this city stand out and the proximity to KSC and the port.

There might be times of year you want to avoid, or else you’ll need to book way ahead of time.

January brings a pro surfing festival and the city sells out quickly.

June has another surfing festival, as does Labor Day weekend.

In March, the Valian Air Command Warbird Airshow is another big draw that sells out everything within miles.

You should also check the launch schedules as that can bring bigger crowds to the beach and fill up hotel rooms quickly too.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Cocoa Beach

  1. Don’t go surfing without a lesson. For less than $100, you can learn the basics of surfing and safety in the water.
  2. Check the beach flags before going in the water, if you are just wading. The flags tell you the condition of the water. For example, a double red flag means the beach is closed to swimmers. A purple flag means dangerous marine life is present, which could be jellyfish or sharks. Ask a lifeguard to be sure. Even if the water doesn’t appear rough, waves from tropical systems way out in the Atlantic ocean can cause strong undercurrents at the shore.
  3. Speaking of that, let’s talk riptides. This is a current you can’t see until you are caught in it. It will pull you out to see. Your instinct is going to be to fight it and try to swim back to shore. All that’s going to do is wear you out. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then safely swim back.
  4. Wear plenty of sunscreen on Cocoa Beach. The sun is intense and even one sunburn can lead to skin cancer. Apply it often, especially if you are sweating a lot or spending a lot of time in and out of the water.
  5. The parking at Cocoa Beach can be a nightmare, according to social forums. People complain big time about the parking. Let’s cover the ground rules. The parking isn’t free. You’ll look for the sun logo and pay at the kiosk after you’ve parked. You can use a credit card or coins, but NO paper money. You won’t get a receipt, but you can get one 24 hours later through a parking receipts website.
  6. If you want to build a campfire on the beach, you’ll need a permit and it will cost you $30. You have to be 18 years old and you’ll leave a copy of your ID with the fire department. And for the record, it’s called a beach campfire and not a bonfire. Bonfires are banned.
  7. Fishing from the beach, known as surfcasting, is allowed. You do need a saltwater fishing license to do so. There are separate licenses in Florida for freshwater and saltwater fishing, so be sure you get the right one.
  8. What’s that on the stop signs in Cocoa Beach? The colored markings on stop signs describe the watermark if a hurricane brought in a storm surge. Many people who haven’t lived in hurricane-prone areas think the biggest danger is the whipping winds, but it’s the storm surge that can leave blocks of buildings flooded. A yellow marker means 5 feet above the high-water level, orange means 10 feet above, and red means 15 feet above.
  9. Regardless of those markings, if a tropical storm or hurricane is heading toward Cocoa Beach, you should leave. Too many people wait until the last minute or decide to ride it out. Even if you do stay and make it through the storm, you could be facing days with no power or clean water and many roadways blocked. It’s safer to go inland to Orlando.
  10. Tropical drinks and vacation time can be a dangerous mix. Don’t be the drunk person at the bar making a scene. Drink one glass of water between every tiki drink. You’ll avoid being dehydrated and can limit the effects of a hangover.

So... How Safe Is Cocoa Beach Really?

Crime maps show the area west of Florida’s famous A1A highway is the most dangerous part of town, but c’mon, 2 robberies last year?

No more than 10 each year for almost a decade?

It’s a safe city that comes with common tourist safety warnings.

Always lock your car when you leave it and don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

It’s best to keep whatever you don’t need at the hotel.

Don’t go in the water and leave your backpack at the beach.

Don’t leave your purse underneath your chair at a restaurant.

There’s nothing about this beach town that should give you concern when it comes to safety.

The real dangers are in the water if you are swimming in waters too rough for your swimming level, or get stung by a jellyfish, or get a lungful of water riding your first wave.

Oh, did we mention the alligators?

Yeah, you might see a few of those if you’re going through Thousand Islands, but if you don’t mess with them, they generally won’t mess with you.

How Does Cocoa Beach Compare?

CitySafety Index
Cocoa Beach92
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60

Useful Information

  • Visas - You don't need any other identification here than the Visa you presented at the airport or port of entry.
  • Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar currency here. Most activities can be pre-paid on your mobile device and there's very little need to carry cash around.
  • Weather - It's mild all year long here, with a heat up in the summer. Even in winter, the temperatures are in the 70s for daytime highs and don't get below the 50s. Summers peak in the upper 80s for highs with only about a 10° drop at night. You'll want to bring a raincoat and waterproof shoes in case it rains. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water shoes.
  • Airports - Melbourne Orlando International Airport is 30 minutes south. This isn't THE Orlando airport. Orlando International Airport is about an hour east.
  • Travel Insurance - As beautiful as this area is, the weather can delay much more than rocket launches. Be sure to get travel insurance before you take off to Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Cocoa Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 18° C
Feb 19° C
Mar 21° C
Apr 23° C
May 25° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 28° C
Aug 28° C
Sep 28° C
Oct 26° C
Nov 22° C
Dec 20° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
212224262830313130282523
Low
°C
141517202224252525231916
High
°F
707275798286888886827773
Low
°F
575963687275777777736661

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