A straight-shot east of Orlando, an hour by car, gets you to Playalinda Beach. Part of the Canaveral National Seashore, NASA launches rockets into space just below the beach. Isn’t that cool? (No rocket launches the day we were there!) Open to the public daily between 6:00 am to 6:00 pm year round, except on rocket launch days, it costs $5 per car to get in.

The beach is actually located on a Barrier island (Wikipedia: Barrier islands are coastal landforms and a type of dune system that are exceptionally flat or lumpy areas of sand that form by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast.) You can drive for over 4 miles along the beach and pick where you want to park at any of the many parking areas (including Beach #13… where swim suits are optional!)

Canaveral National Seashore is in total 24 miles (39 km) long—the longest stretch of undeveloped public beach on the east coast of Florida. The island acts as a buffer against tropical storms and hurricanes, absorbing the initial brunt of wind and waves.

Playalinda means “beautiful beach.” And that it is!  Big dunes, brown sugar sand, and big waves. People surf here the waves are so big. And it is lesser-known than Cocoa Beach to the south. If you are looking for more of a nature experience, for more space, for more quiet, then Playalinda is the Beach for you. My kids were looking to play in the sand, and look for shells.

What makes the perfect shell?

The perfect shell is not the large, impossibly shiny gems you buy at ShellWorld for $24.99. The perfect shells are the ones your kids think are special in some way. Most of them are flawed, but each shell that found its way into the bucket thanks to sandy little fingers had “something” about it.

After hours of shell collecting, we packed up and headed home. Our porch is now a display case for sorting and trading….

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