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Thousand Islands of Cocoa Beach

Thousand Islands, Cocoa Beach

Collection of Mangrove Islands in the Banana River

Sunday September 24, 2017

Central Florida's Cocoa Beach hosts the beautiful and spectacular sibling watershed named the Banana River Lagoon with it's Thousand Islands adjacent to Cocoa Beach. Not to be confused with the orange salad dressing adorned on Reuben sandwiches and big, these natural and man made spoil islands are immersed in salty brine and teaming with Florida gamefish and wildlife. Florida's Space Coast host an ecosystem that's unique to it's area having some hidden treasures including alligators, porpoises or bottle nosed dolphins, manatees and many other native wildlife. Bird lovers will be impressed by the amount of waterfowl found at different times of the year and anglers will not be disappointed as they pursue many of popular saltwater species.

As with much of Florida and America's coastal areas, Cocoa Beach struggles with population growth problems. So far Brevard County has been immune to the attraction status of Daytona with it's NASCAR race track, Bike Week and enormous Spring Break crowd. We get our share of visitors and tourist looking for a semi-sleepy community far from the hustle and bustle of Disney and Orlando's attractions but it's nothing compared to Daytona or South Florida. Cocoa Beach's featured attraction is the world's largest surf shop Ron Jons which is open 24 hours a day for visitors and residents and is one of two business hubs for the city with Minuteman Causeway's downtown area being the other. Until recent years the Thousand Islands of the Banana River were unknown to outsiders, a secret spot held firm by locals and sportsmen looking for an isolated fishing hole. Port Canaveral's cruise ship industry has tromped on this watershed with water tours including kayakers, tour boats and fishing charter guides as each year yet another cruise terminal is added and many fear that the Thousand Islands will not sustain a growing recreation population without decreasing the quality of life for it's inhabitants.

Thousand Island History

Redfish in the Thousand Islands

The most popular myth about the Thousand Island area is that they're man made and that somehow we managed to dredge enough out of the waterfront housing developments in the 1950's and 60's to make all those islands. While much of the canals were dredged, the spoil was mostly put on residential parcels and also pumped toward the center of the area making a road and bridge connecting the beach to Merritt Island. Unbeknownst to many Brevard County residence, there was once a low wooden bridge spanning the Banana River where an early entrepreneur named Angel charged passage from Merritt Island on South Tropical Trail towards Minuteman Causeway on Cocoa Beach. Those humble beginnings triggered a growth and forever labeled those part's Angel's City on present day South Banana River Drive on Merritt Island.

During WWII our government committed funds and resources to the Banana River Naval Base where Patrick Air Force Base is today. With the coming of war, congress sent jobs and money to the area which produced the first real population growth in Brevard County. As time progressed modern bridges and highways replaced the old wooden bridge and A1A was paved between Cocoa Beach and Eau Galle for Base employees and contractors, but many long time residence still remember the day of A1A being a sand trap for vehicles.

Cocoa Beach's Thousand Islands are actually part of an inlet delta formed and closed possibly hundreds or thousands of years ago. Aerial views and water depths hint at this place as a massive tear in the barrier island where present day Cocoa Beach is now. Many residence wrongly believe that the Cresent Beach area to the south was formally an inlet because of it's narrowness and propensity to flooding, evidence points to a inlet somewhere around the present day Coconuts on the Beach Bar and Minuteman Causeway.

Cocoa Beach's Thousand Islands is a fishing mecca on Florida's east coast for angling enthusiast and charter fishing opportunities.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

Author Captain Richard Bradley

Captain Richard Bradley is the author and contributor for many of the articles written on the Lagooner website. Richard is a professional fishing guide, taking anglers in his native waters near the Banana and Mosquito Lagoons on Florida's central east coast almost three hundred trips seasonally. When not charter fishing, Captain Richard enjoys time with his family surfing, fishing, camping and various other outdoor activities.

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