Recreation > Eco Tourism

Florida Space Coast Eco Tourism - More Than Beach To Explore

There are many tour providers in the area that provide tourists with a closer view of our areas eco-systems and natural wildlife. Among them are Island Boat Lines which tours the Banana River near Florida Seafood Bar & Grill in Cocoa Beach; catamaran tours with Indian River Cruises and antebellum paddleboat tours aboard the Indian River Queen in Cocoa Village; and awe-inspiring trips around the Cocoa Beach Thousand Islands with Fin Expeditions or the Cocoa Beach Manatee Watch.

Many tour providers, such as the Indian River Queen equipped with the Dragonfly wastewater treatment system to protect the fragile waters on which it sails, offer special launch day tours to take visitors out on the water to view the incredible rocket and shuttle launches.

All areas that become hot spots for nature-based tourism run the risk of exploiting the natural environment which is why the Brevard Nature Alliance (BNA) has been in the forefront of the growing market and pioneers of the local industry. Advocates such as Genevieve Thompson of the Audubon Society have stayed true to the best interests of the nature that surrounds them as they have spread the word about the magnificent natural areas such as the Enchanted Forest and the Indian River Lagoon.

Leave only your footprints…
A real eco- or nature tour should honor and protect the environment through quality education and experience, not something that exploits it for a buck.

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

Florida’s beaches and marshes are the nesting sites for many different species of birds—Plovers, Terns, Gulls, Pelicans, Herons, Egrets, Rails, and more. Beach and marsh nesting birds camouflage their nests, which are usually found above the high-water line. In many cases, eggs blend in perfectly with the sand, are hard to see and are easily stepped on and can be inadvertently crushed.

If parent birds are frightened off their nests even temporarily, eggs and chicks are exposed to extreme weather (sun or rain) as well as predators. Moving beach litter from the shoreline into dunes and areas above the high water line will lead to impacts to nesting birds and could result in damage to the dunes.

The non-profit Brevard Nature Alliance (BNA) was formed in 1998 as a coalition of community representatives who combine knowledge to protect the distinct ecology and raise the awareness of citizens and visitors to the value and importance of the local natural resources.

The Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in held each January and now in its 14th year is ranked one of the top three birding events in North America and is the BNA’s biggest event, attracting thousands of birders from around the world each year.

The connection of nature to quality of life, excellence in environmental education, high technology, cultural heritage and business involvement has ranked the event so favorably that it is now recognized internationally as an event destination for premier birding opportunities and outdoor adventures. 

Located on the Atlantic Flyway, the area is within close proximity to 40 sites on the Great Florida Birding Trail and is a perfect place to watch for migrating species.

Birds that can be seen include reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, crested caracara, American bald eagle, multiple herons and egrets and the painted bunting, among dozens of others.

Space Protects Nature

As it prepared to build what would become the Kennedy Space Center, NASA purchased hundreds of acres of land of which only seven percent has or will be developed. The rest was set aside as the 220 square mile Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore.

The refuge includes points of interest along Black Point Wildlife Drive, a 7-mile self-guided tour of impounded marshes; a Visitor Center; four hiking trails and the historic Haulover Canal. Kayaking tours of some of the wading bird islands and otherwise hard to reach spots are offered by many reputable tour providers and education specialists from Brevard Zoo. 

Enchanted Forest: Attraction

Disney may have a corner on the market for make-believe magic, but the Space Coast area is so naturally special that one site is well known as being “enchanted.” The 428-acre Enchanted Forest Sanctuary features more than four miles of hiking trails managed by the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program in Titusville.

An onsite Education Center provides interpretive exhibits, two classrooms, a large screen porch, a reference library, a gift shop, restrooms, a picnic area and an outdoor amphitheater. The Education Center wildflower and butterfly gardens have even garnered awards from the Florida Native Plant Society.


Turtle Walks with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society are available in June and July of each year along the Central and South beaches and through the Canaveral National Seashore in the north part of the county. The guided walks provide educational information and allow guests the opportunity to observe actively nesting female sea turtles. Reservations are required and the limited number of spaces available for each walk book very quickly.

Botanical Gardens

Check out the fantastic botanical gardens at the Florida Institute of Technology.


Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival
Brevard Nature Alliance
Brevard Zoo
Environmentally Endangered Lands Program
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Enchanted Forest Sanctuary
Erna Nixon Park

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