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Posted on 07/21/2021 in Other

5 Fun Facts You Likely Don't Know About the Space Coast

5 Fun Facts You Likely Don't Know About the Space Coast

Florida’s Space Coast is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the second busiest cruise port in the United States. It offers the longest stretch of beach in the entire state of Florida with 72 miles of sand and over 250 square miles of wildlife refuge. And yet, it remains the least known vacation area in the State, which simply means greater value for vacationers who do know about this hidden gem on the Atlantic Coast in Central Florida. 

Even those who are familiar with the Space Coast are likely unfamiliar with all or some of these fun facts. 

1. I Dream of Jeannie sitcom was based here.
The 1965-1970 sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie was set in Cocoa Beach. The premise of the sitcom is that an astronaut finds a genie in a bottle and takes her home with him. The astronaut works at Kennedy Space Center and lives with the genie at 1020 Palm Drive in Cocoa Beach. 

But don’t go looking for the address. There is no Palm Drive in Cocoa Beach. The house used in the TV show was actually in California. However, the locals have paid homage to I Dream of Jeannie by erecting a street sign called I Dream of Jeannie Ln and a commemorative sign at Lori Wilson Park off of A1A in Cocoa Beach.

Photo Courtesy of Rusty Clark


 2. Redfish Capital of the World is here. 
The Space Coast is known for great fishing year-round and one of the best fish to come out of this area is the Redfish. Known as a staple in Cajun and Creole cooking, redfish offers a mild, sweet flavor with a medium-firm texture.  

There isn’t a redfish “season.” They can be caught year round. However, there is a limit to one per day and that one must be bigger than 18” and smaller than 27” for you to legally keep it and you must have a Florida fishing license in order to fish.  The good news is if you charter a fishing boat, they’ll usually secure the fishing license for you. 

Otherwise, click here to learn everything you need to know about getting a Florida fishing license. 

Photo Courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife


3. Navy SEALs were created here. 
In June 1943 Lieutenant Commander Kauffman, “The Father of Naval Combat Demolition” set up a school for Naval Demolition and established NCDU (Naval Combat Demolition Units) training at Fort Pierce in preparation for D-Day. In April 1944, NCDU’s were deployed to England to ready for the amphibious landing at Normandy. The NCDU’s and UDT’s (Underwater Demolition Team) played a massive role in the success of D-Day, in the remainder of the World War II, and furthermore in Korea. 

Years later, faced with the unconventional  guerrilla warfare style of the Viet Cong, the Navy needed to solidify their role within the special operations area and in March 1961 formally established the Navy SEAL’s as guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. 

While the SEAL’s moved their home to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, their history is honored with the National UDT-SEAL museum in Fort Pierce, where it all began.

The museum is home to a replica Navy SEAL training course. Take it in. Challenge yourself and see if you have what it takes to be a Navy SEAL. 

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4. Cocoa Beach is the East Coast Surf Capital.
No one knows exactly who ascribed the title “East Coast Surf Capital” to Cocoa Beach, but Cocoa Beach has been known for its surfing activities since the 1960s and the nickname has stuck.

Another name you need to know to be “in the know” on East Coast surf history is Dick Catri. Without his influence, it's likely surfing may not have flourished as it did here. 

In his day, Catri rode for legendary surfboard shaper Hobie, surfed in several U.S. Championship as well as the 1967 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational in Hawaii, he represented the United States at the 1968 World Contest and is a Surfing Hall of Fame inductee. But what Catri is remembered most for is being the spark to legitimize Florida as a player in the international surfing world. 

This included hosting surf competitions at the Cocoa Beach Pier as well as forming a youth surf team with local surf standouts Todd Holland, David Speir, Sean Slater, and Sean's little brother, Kelly Slater. 

Catri pioneered advanced coaching methods, hosted weekly team workouts and filmed the team surfing to go over footage later that day. This allowed the team to focus on what their body was doing while they were surfing and become hyper aware. As we all know, his student,  Kelly Slater, would go on to win an unprecedented 11 world titles and become the greatest competitive surfer the world has ever seen.

When you drive into Cocoa Beach on the A1A, you will see a statue in Slater’s honor in the median where the A1A splits into North Atlantic Avenue and North Orlando Avenue. 

Kelly Slater statue by local artist Tasha Drazich


5. Melbourne Beach is unofficially the oldest town in Florida. 
While officially established in 1883, the history of Melbourne Beach journeys back into the early 1500’s before the colonists even settled Jamestown, Virginia.

With Spain's control of the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico, King Ferdinand sought to explore more of the Caribbean Sea. Juan Ponce de León, formerly the governor of Puerto Rico, set sail March 4th,1513 from Puerto Rico leading the first European expedition to what he proclaimed “La Florida." In 1990, a historian said that Juan Ponce de León landed within five to eight nautical miles on a barrier island with the proposed name of Ponce de León Island. That spot is what we know today as Melbourne Beach. 

Other historians argue that Juan Ponce de León’s landing place cannot be known within a leeway of less than a hundred miles. The last recorded latitude coordinate, stated by Herrera in 1601 (who had the original logbook) was 30 degrees, 8 minutes. The coordinate, recorded at noon using a mariner's astrolabe, was notated before the expedition continued north for the remainder of the day, anchoring that evening and going ashore. With those points, the ship would be closer to St. Augustine thus sparking the feud over the actual landing point. 

However, even in St. Augustine’s history, the claim to be the “oldest city in America” only dates back to September 1565 and references Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain as their founding father. 

Most people coming to the Space Coast fly into Orlando International Airport in Orlando. But did you know you can also fly into Melbourne Orlando International Airport, which is located just 10 minutes from the southern end of the Space Coast; just over the Melbourne Causeway.

(If you're looking to visit the Fort Lauderdale area, be sure to check out our sister site, the Beachside Directory at www.BeachsideDirectory.com)

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