When I moved to Orlando, being more familiar with west coast beaches, I often asked people which was their favorite east coast beach within 1.5 hours of Orlando. Most said New Smyrna Beach. A very few said Playalinda. After visiting the latter, I can say that I am now a member of Team Playalinda. I think Playalinda may be one of the better kept secrets on the east coast. This was somewhat verified for me when a coworker told me he didn’t like mentioning it to people because he didn’t want word to get out.
Undeveloped beaches are few and far between and the absence of development is what makes Playalinda so spectacular. Located on a barrier island east of Titusville, FL, Playalinda beach is a part of the Canaveral National Seashore,. The Canaveral National Seashore as a whole contains 24 miles of undeveloped beach and is located just north Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space center. If you are a looking for a quiet, natural beach with no buildings or development, Playalinda is the beach for you.
Once on the island, you must drive about 6 miles on the Max Brewer Memorial Parkway to get to the Playalinda beach accesses. Just when you think you might be lost, you will find yourself at the park gate where you must pay $5 per car to enter (an annual pass is $35). It is a beautiful drive through the brackish marsh land and we saw several alligators in the water along the side of the road on the drive in. You can also see the Space Center rising like a monolith off to the right, which is pretty cool.
Keep driving, you’re almost to the beach. I promise. After a sharp left you will see the beginning of the beach accesses. We drove down to access 7 (out of 13 and apparently the final access functions as an unofficially nude beach, you’ve been warned). Each access has a small paved parking lot. A short walk over the dunes via boardwalk brings you out onto pristine beach!
The water was unusually flat and we were able to see some manta rays surfing in the waves. The beach wasn’t too crowded and it was nice to be on a car free beach. I definitely plan on returning to Playalinda and exploring the Canaveral National Seashore further. Keep in mind that the amenities at each beach access are minimal (bathrooms at each access lack running water). What Playalinda lacks in amenities it makes up for in beauty.
Things to know:
- $5 per car, $35 for an annual pass
- pets are prohibited on the beach
- alcohol is allowed, glass containers are prohibited
Canaveral National Seashore website.