Central Florida’s Cocoa Beach hosts the beautiful and spectacular sibling watershed named the Banana River Lagoon with its thousand Islands adjacent to Cocoa Beach. Not to be confused with the orange salad dressing adorned on Reuben sandwiches, these natural and man-made spoil islands are immersed in salty brine, teaming with Florida gamefish and wildlife. Florida’s Space Coast host an ecosystem that’s unique to its area having some hidden treasures including alligators, porpoises or bottle nosed dolphins, manatees, and much other native wildlife. Bird lovers will be impressed by the number of waterfowl found at different times of the year and anglers will not be disappointed as they pursue many 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. Many fear that the Thousand Islands will not sustain a growing recreation population without decreasing the quality of life for its inhabitants.
Thousand Island HistoryThe most famous 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. Dredging canals, the spoil was mostly put on residential parcels and also pumped toward the center of the area creating 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 Lagoon 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. Progress brought modern bridges and highways, replacing the old wooden bridge. Paving A1A between Cocoa Beach and Eau Galle for Base employees and contractors progressed, but longtime residents 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 residences wrongly believe that the Cresent Beach area to the south was formally an inlet because of its narrowness and propensity to flooding, evidence points to a channel somewhere around the present day Coconuts on the Beach Bar and Minuteman Causeway.
Captain Richard Bradley
Charter Fishing Captain/Guide
Being a husband and father to three incredible women my life overflows with joy. As a lifelong resident and third generation Floridian, my passion is not only my family but the outdoors. It has been a great pleasure to take my family, friends, and customers on fishing excursions on Florida's east coast where I grew up for over five decades.
I love sharing my experiences and writing about my knowledge of where I live and often mix in my opinions and journeys. Please feel free to comment on my writings and express your views and experiences as well. [Captain Richard]