Monday, April 12, 2010

The "other" Cocoa Beach

Looking north towards the Cocoa Beach city limits.

As I was driving north on A1A through Cocoa Beach this past Monday I was feeling a vague sense of well-being that suddenly gelled with realization. The traffic of the last month had disappeared and the roads were uncrowded again. We sometimes forget during the spring season how peaceful Cocoa Beach can be at other times. This year was particularly busy when we had the perfect storm of a shuttle launch the day after Easter.

We have several distinct seasons in Cocoa Beach. The year begins with our winter visitors arriving in ever increasing numbers peaking in March. By that month we have the largest number of snowbirds, the visiting baseball teams and their families here for games at the Cocoa Expo and some spring breakers. Throw in the Easter Surf Festival at the Pier and a shuttle launch and it can get busy in the north part of town. Once past Easter things drift back towards normalcy. April and May are typically slow months as we are between the seasons of longer-staying snowbirds and summer vacationers. As soon as schools begin letting out for the summer, we begin receiving vacationers who are typically here for shorter periods than the snowbirds who often stay for months. Our summer guests tend to be here for only a week or two. Come first of September and the summer guests leave en masse and our little town gets downright quiet.

September and October are magic times with the least number of people in town, the water still bath-warm and the weather (barring a tropical storm) perfect. The mullet run begins along the beach in September and beach fishing is the best of the year. This is also the best time of year for surf with our beaches receiving clean swell from every tropical system that passes by. We stay uncrowded right through New Years when the the cycle begins anew.

Speaking of the crowds of this past month, there were parts of Cocoa Beach that remained quiet, uncrowded and peaceful during the peak of the action on Easter weekend. I'm talking about the "other" Cocoa Beach. Many visitors and residents alike do not know about the other Cocoa Beach. The area and beaches in the north end around Cocoa Beach Surf Company, Ron Jons and the Pier form many people's image of our town as does the Minutemen Causeway beach on weekends. As fun as these areas can be there is another side to our town. As one travels south from Minutemen, the shops and motels disappear and the other Cocoa Beach begins to take shape. Here are neighborhoods and the people on the beaches are primarily residents and the occasional clued-in visitor taking advantage of the limited street end parking at the beach. This other town changes once again in the magic strip of south Cocoa Beach that begins at the southern fork of A1A. For a little less than a mile here, there is a narrow strip of land with the Banana River to the west and the Atlantic to the east. Our mailing address is still Cocoa Beach but we are outside the city limits. All public parking disappears and there is the lowest population density of any oceanfront area in Cocoa Beach. A perfect storm of another kind, a formula for perpetually peaceful uncrowded beaches. I love that other Cocoa Beach.

“Insanity in individuals is the exception. In groups, parties, peoples and times, it is the rule.”

Beyond Good and Evil
– Friederich Nietzsche –