Home /

Cocoa Beach History

What is now Cocoa Beach, was inhabited by Native Americans, the Ais Indians. The first non-native settlement in the area was by a family of freed slaves following the America Civil War. Prior to incorporation, the area was known as Oceanus, with the town of Cocoa Beach being established on June 5, 1925. Racing on the beach was welcomed in 1924, with cars driving up to 180 miles per hour on the beach - then known as the world's greatest speedway.   

October 1939 - New Banana River Naval Air Station was formed, and in 1948 was renamed as Patrick Air Force Base, today's home of the 45th Space Wing. To the north of the city on May 11, 1949, President Harry Truman created a Long-Range Proving Ground for missiles at Cape Canaveral.


The 1950's changed the face and pace of Cocoa Beach forever. Port Canaveral was dredged for commercial fishing and developed into a bustling commercial port for commerce and military, and is now the second largest passenger cruise port in the world. Cocoa Beach's first motel - the Starlite Motel was opened in 1956 with 100 rooms. Construction and development of hotels, housing, restaurants and businesses was fierce to keep up with the growing space industry and affiliated support network of local businesses.


May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space launching from Cape Kennedy on Freedom 7. The iconic Cocoa Beach Pier was built for $150,000 in 1962 and became the mecca for surfers and wanna-be surfers helping to brand the area- 'The East Coast Surfing Capital'. John Glenn, atop Friendship 7 became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, drawing some 75,000 spectators to the Cocoa Beach area to watch the historic launch. Debuting in 1965, "I Dream of Jeannie' was a successful television series based  in Cocoa Beach. Although only one episode was actually filmed here, natives adopted Jeannie as one of their own and today I Dream of Jeannie Lane in Cocoa Beach pays homage to the show. Perhaps nothing can top the excitement of July 1969's Apollo 11 launch, sending three brave Americans on a journey to land on the Moon for the first time in history, ending this busy and historic decade in the area.

The 1970's in Cocoa Beach 'launched' another record breaker, with the birth of 11 time world record holder surfing icon Kelly Slater who was born and raised in Cocoa Beach and honed his moves in the year round waves of the Atlantic, and you can take a photo with him (or his statue) at the entrance to Cocoa Beach's downtown area. NASA's Shuttle program defined the Space Coast from the 1980's until 2011, revitalizing America's dominance in scientific explorations and continuing the history of space and aviation technology along the Space Coast. 

Cocoa Beach today, is a vibrant thriving community still nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River welcoming visitors to enjoy a unique location where the land meets the sea and leads to the sky and where the future is brighter than ever.