Cocoa Beach vs New Smyrna Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation?

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Are you dreaming of a sunny beach vacation in Florida, but can’t decide between Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach?

Each of these gorgeous coastal getaways has its own unique vibe, amenities, and attractions to explore.

From sandy beaches with endless ocean views to bustling restaurants and plenty of entertainment options, both destinations have a lot to offer travelers.

However, how do they compare when it comes time to choose the best spot for your special getaway?

Read on as we take an honest look at both vibrant communities and evaluate which is better suited for your dream vacation!

Cocoa Beach vs New Smyrna Beach

Overview of Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach, Florida is a hidden gem that’s definitely worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State.

This bustling city has something for everyone – from its miles of pristine beaches to a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. It’s a perfect destination for those looking for a relaxed vibe with plenty of things to do.

With average temperatures around 80 degrees year-round, Cocoa Beach is a playground for water sports enthusiasts.

You can surf, go fishing, or rent a paddleboard and explore the Banana River. The coolest part?

Cocoa Beach is home to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where you can learn about the history of space exploration or catch a rocket launch!

So, whether you’re a beach bum or an aspiring astronaut, Cocoa Beach is the perfect getaway spot – just bring some sunscreen.

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Overview of New Smyrna Beach

can you swim in new smyrna beach Cocoa Beach vs New Smyrna Beach: Which is Better for a Vacation?

New Smyrna Beach, Florida – the name alone sounds like the perfect spot to soak up some sunshine and catch a few waves. And that’s exactly what this charming beach town is all about.

Located just an hour’s drive east of Orlando, New Smyrna Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. With over 13 miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder why people flock to this coastal gem.

Aside from the beach, New Smyrna Beach has plenty of other fun activities to check out, such as unique shops, delicious seafood restaurants, and even historical sites.

Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing day at the beach or an adventure-packed excursion, New Smyrna Beach has something for everyone.

Location and Accessibility

Cocoa Beach: Surfing the Waves of Convenience

Situated just an hour’s drive from Orlando International Airport, Cocoa Beach boasts unbeatable accessibility.

This means you can transition from a magical theme park adventure to a sandy, sun-kissed beach retreat with minimal effort. Convenience is the name of the game here!

New Smyrna Beach: Off-the-Beaten-Path Oasis

A bit farther from Orlando than Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach offers a quieter and more laid-back vibe.

It’s perfect for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path escape.

While it takes a bit longer to get here, you’ll be rewarded with a more secluded paradise.

Beaches and Water Activities

Beach Atmosphere

Cocoa Beach

Vibrant and Energetic. Known as the “Surfing Capital of the East Coast,” Cocoa Beach attracts a young and lively crowd of surfers and beach enthusiasts.

The beachfront is bustling with activity, offering beach volleyball, beachside bars, and live music, making it a vibrant and fun-filled destination.

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New Smyrna Beach

Relaxed and Tranquil. New Smyrna Beach exudes a more laid-back vibe, perfect for travellers seeking a quieter and more serene beach experience.

The atmosphere is family-friendly, and the beachfront provides ample space for those who prefer a more tranquil coastal setting.

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Surfing Opportunities

Cocoa Beach

Surfer’s Paradise. With consistent waves and surfing events, Cocoa Beach is a mecca for surfers of all levels. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf or want to catch some gnarly waves, Cocoa Beach is the place to be.

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New Smyrna Beach

Surfer’s Haven. While not as renowned as Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach still offers excellent surfing opportunities. The waves here are great for beginners, making it an ideal spot for learning how to ride the waves.

Water Activities

Cocoa Beach

Jet Skiing, Paddleboarding, and More. Alongside surfing, Cocoa Beach provides a variety of water activities to get your adrenaline pumping.

From jet skiing to stand-up paddleboarding, there’s no shortage of options for those seeking aquatic adventures.

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New Smyrna Beach

Kayaking and Nature Excursions. New Smyrna Beach is more oriented towards serene water activities like kayaking and canoeing.

Its calm waters and scenic surroundings make it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and those looking for a peaceful experience on the water.


Cocoa Beach: Energetic and Lively

Cocoa Beach’s nightlife is a dynamic fusion of vibrant bars, live music, and energetic clubs.

As the “Surfing Capital of the East Coast,” the town’s youthful and adventurous spirit translates into its nocturnal offerings. Here’s what you can expect from a night out in Cocoa Beach:

  • Beachside Bars: Numerous bars line the beachfront, creating a lively atmosphere where you can sip tropical cocktails and feel the ocean breeze. The sound of crashing waves sets the perfect background music as you socialize and soak in the coastal ambiance.
  • Live Music Venues: Music enthusiasts will love Cocoa Beach’s live music scene. Local bands and musicians often take the stage, providing a mix of genres from rock to reggae. Some bars even host themed nights, turning the dance floor into a lively hotspot.
  • Dance Clubs: If you’re in the mood to dance the night away, Cocoa Beach has you covered. Dance clubs with energetic beats and neon lights invite you to let loose and show off your moves.
  • Late-Night Bites: After a night of revelry, you’ll find eateries that keep their kitchens open late, satisfying those post-party cravings with delicious snacks and comfort food.

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New Smyrna Beach: Relaxed and Casual

New Smyrna Beach’s nightlife, in contrast, embodies a more laid-back and casual vibe, in harmony with the town’s serene coastal ambiance. Here’s what you can expect for a relaxed evening in New Smyrna Beach:

  • Beachfront Cafes and Pubs: New Smyrna Beach’s nightlife centers around beachfront cafes and pubs. These cozy spots offer a more intimate setting where you can enjoy a drink or two with friends or family.
  • Live Music and Acoustic Sets: While New Smyrna Beach doesn’t have a bustling club scene, you can still find bars and cafes hosting live acoustic sets or small bands. The ambiance is relaxed, allowing you to unwind and appreciate the music without the need for a crowded dance floor.
  • Chill Out with Friends: If you prefer a low-key night, New Smyrna Beach is the ideal place to simply relax and catch up with friends. Some places have outdoor seating, allowing you to enjoy the cool ocean breeze while you chat the night away.
  • Stargazing on the Shore: For a truly magical experience, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline under the moonlit sky. New Smyrna Beach’s tranquil atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for romantic stargazing walks.

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Who has the best restaurants?

Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach both offer an enticing selection of restaurants, each with its unique charm and culinary specialties.

Cocoa Beach excels in its seafood offerings and diverse international flavors, creating a lively and diverse dining experience.

On the other hand, New Smyrna Beach embraces a more intimate and laid-back dining atmosphere, where guests can savor fresh catches from the ocean and enjoy a touch of coastal elegance.

No matter which beach town you choose, both Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach promise to satisfy your cravings and leave you with a taste of the Sunshine State’s coastal culinary delights.

Bon appétit!

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Which is better for families?

Both Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach have their unique appeal for families.

If your family seeks a beach vacation filled with active pursuits, water sports, and a vibrant atmosphere, Cocoa Beach may be the preferred choice. On the other hand, if your family prefers a quieter and more nature-oriented getaway with opportunities for relaxation and family bonding, New Smyrna Beach might be the better fit.

Ultimately, consider your family’s interests and the type of experience you want to create, and you’ll find the perfect Florida destination to make cherished family memories.

Which place is the best for couples?

For couples seeking a lively and adventurous romantic getaway, Cocoa Beach is the better choice. Its vibrant atmosphere, surfing opportunities, beachfront dining, and energetic nightlife create a perfect backdrop for a couple’s retreat.

On the other hand, for couples looking for a more tranquil and intimate coastal escape, New Smyrna Beach is the ideal option. Its secluded beaches, nature exploration, cozy dining experiences, and peaceful evenings offer a serene setting for a romantic rendezvous.

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Which beach is better for groups of friends?

For groups of friends seeking a lively and energetic beach vacation with vibrant nightlife and water sports, Cocoa Beach is the better choice.

However, for those looking for a more laid-back and serene coastal experience, New Smyrna Beach offers a tranquil setting with nature exploration and relaxed evenings.

The choice ultimately depends on the group’s preferences and the type of atmosphere they prefer for their getaway.


In conclusion, both Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach offer unique and delightful experiences for vacationers.

Cocoa Beach is perfect for those seeking an action-packed getaway with vibrant nightlife, surfing, and diverse dining options. On the other hand, New Smyrna Beach is an ideal choice for travelers looking for a more tranquil and intimate coastal escape with secluded beaches and nature exploration.

The ultimate decision on which destination is better for a vacation depends on individual preferences and the type of experience you desire.

Whether you crave an energetic beach adventure or a serene coastal retreat, both destinations promise unforgettable moments in the Sunshine State.

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About the author
James Williams
Hey there! I'm James Williams, the guy behind I'm a born-and-raised Floridian, and I'm stoked to share my travel adventures with you. On my website, you'll get a taste of Florida through my eyes – the places I love, the hidden gems, and the stories that make the Sunshine State special. Join me on this journey as I take you through the heart and soul of Florida, one post at a time!

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