Cocoa Beach vs Daytona Beach in [2023]: An Honest Comparison to Help You Choose!

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Cocoa Beach Vs Daytona Beach for vacation? If you’re planning a spring break, summer vacation, or honeymoon to Florida’s ‘Surfing Capital🏄🏼‍♂️’ or ‘Home of NASCAR🏎,’ this is a question you’re bound to have.

Located just an hour’s drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach are both well-known for their gorgeous beaches, surfing, shopping, and bustling nightlife, yet they each offer something rather special.

Therefore, which Beach City is the best fit for you?

Cocoa Beach is the ideal beach destination for families seeking a fun-filled vacation complete with spectacular family-friendly beaches, oceanfront lodging, distinctive dining, and world-class surfing.

If you’re looking for more exciting beaches with a busy nightlife, chaotic party scenes, and an adrenaline-pumping NASCAR experience, Daytona Beach is the place to visit.

ParametersCocoa BeachDaytona Beach
Cost of a a7-day Trip💵$1622 (For couples)$2359 (For couples)
Known for👍Surfing capital of the US, Surf breaks, Cocoa beach Pier, White sandy beaches, Surf museum, Kennedy Space CenterNASCAR, Motorsports culture, Hard-packed sand beaches that you can drive on, Baseball, Spring break parties, Golfing
Beaches🏖Family-friendly beaches with powdery sand, excellent surf breaks and modern amenities, and a laid-back vibeHard-packed sand beaches excellent for beach car rides, oceanfront hotels, huge crowds, lively vibe with a vibrant nightlife
Activities🏄🏼‍♂️Surfing, Snorkeling, Shopping, Fishing, Golfing, Water parks, Entertainment centers, and Private Cruises, Kennedy Space CenterSurfing, Snorkeling, Shopping, Fishing, Motorsports, Cultural festivals, Baseball, Beach car rides
Popular Tourist Attractions🏛Cocoa Beach Pier, Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Village, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Port CanaveralDaytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach Boardwalk, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Best areas to Stay🏨Cocoa Beach PierDaytona Beach Boardwalk

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Cocoa Beach vs Daytona Beach: Here’s an Honest Comparison to help you choose!

What is Cocoa Beach known for?

Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach is a getaway to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is located south of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast. It is famed for its excellent beaches and surf breakers and is sometimes referred to as the “Surfing Capital of America.”

Owing to its spectacular surf breaks, plenty of activities for kids and adults alike, amazing beachfront restaurants and hotels, and a family-friendly vibe, Cocoa Beach is the go-to destination for many people along Florida’s Space Coast.

What is Daytona Beach known for?

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, located on Florida’s east coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is well-known for its rich racing history and is also home to the NASCAR headquarters, driveable hard-packed sand beaches, and is a favorite spring-break destination due to its lively beaches and exciting nightlife.

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What is the best time of the year to visit Cocoa Beach?

The spring season, from early March to late May, is best for visiting Cocoa Beach since the weather is ideal with sun and ideal surf breakers for a fantastic surfing experience.

Visit Cocoa Beach from late October to early December if you want to save money on accommodations and have a more peaceful and laid-back beach experience.

What is the best time of the year to visit Daytona Beach?

Early March to late May is the finest time of year to visit Daytona Beach since the weather is pleasant for enjoying the seaside pleasure and the active beaches and dynamic nightlife while spring break is in full swing.

If you want to avoid the partying spring break crowds and enjoy a more serene beach experience, the months of early April to May are ideal for a vacation to Daytona Beach.

Cocoa Beach Vs Daytona Beach for a family vacation?

Cocoa Beach is a better family vacation destination than Daytona Beach because it has more spectacular white sand beaches and excellent surf breaks, oceanfront accommodation options, picnic areas, and a variety of fun activities on and off the beach to make your family vacation a truly memorable experience.

Who has the best beaches?🏖 Coco Beach or Daytona

Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach both have some of Florida’s most pristine beaches, complete with azure blue waves, beachfront lodging options, shopping centers, restaurants, pubs, and bars, as well as a variety of beach activities. Both of these locations, however, are in stark contrast to the vibe they exude.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is known for its pristine white powdery beaches and spectacular surf breaks. With over 100 surf spots on the East Coast alone, Cocoa Beach is known as the ‘Surfing Capital of the United States.’

It is also home to numerous surfing champions, including eight-time world champion Kelly Slater.

Cocoa Beach is well-known for its peaceful and steady waves, which contributes to its appeal as the greatest place on the Space Coast to surf with kids and a sought-after family holiday destination.

Best Beaches in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Pier
Cocoa Beach Pier

Your visit to Cocoa Beach Pier would be incomplete if you did not see the iconic and historical monument that stretches 800 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

Cocoa Beach offers the greatest of sun, sand, and coastal beauty all in one location. The CB Pier is a great spot to spend time with your family, whether you’re surfing on the waves, fishing off the Pier, playing beach volleyball, eating wonderful seafood, or shopping for gifts in one of the many shopping shops located around the Pier.

Canaveral National Seashore, Playalinda Beach
Playalinda Beach

For those seeking a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Cocoa Beach Pier, Playalinda Beach is an ideal destination for those seeking a calm beach ambiance and undisturbed natural appeal.

Playalinda beach is located on a barrier island and features a 24-mile stretch of sugary white secluded coastline complete with a dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh, and pine flatland ecosystem.

Playalinda beach’s calm setting amidst an unspoiled natural environment and lack of gaudy tourist traps make it an ideal getaway for couples looking to spend quality time together.

Lori Wilson Park
Lori Wilson State Park
Image credit: Image by Rusty Clark via Flickr

Lori Wilson Park has a 33-acre beach with fine golden sand and crystal blue water, as well as enough free parking.

Additionally, the Park features a boardwalk that leads to the beach and other beach facilities such as restrooms, picnic spaces, showers, and a playground. Wildlife fans, in particular, should pay this park a visit for its breathtaking natural beauty.

Sidney Fischer Park Beach
SeaPinesBeach: Tybee island vs Hilton Head

Sidney Fischer Park Beach is one of Cocoa Beach’s most popular family beaches. This clean beach’s smooth shoreline, lack of small rocks or stones, and round-the-clock lifeguard duty make it the safest beach in Cocoa Beach for children.

Other features include a children’s playground, a sandy volleyball court, picnic spaces, outdoor showers, and plenty of parking.

Alan Shepard park
marco island vibes

Featuring a five-acre of oceanfront park, Shepard Park is named after the astronaut Alan Shepard.

The Shepard Park beach is equipped with numerous facilities, showers, small and big picnic spots, and ample parking. Numerous businesses and restaurants are located within a few minute’s walking distance of the beach and are centrally placed in Cocoa Beach county.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is famous for its 23 miles of bustling hard-packed white sand beaches, which make it one of the top beaches in Florida for beach vehicle rides. It also has a rich racing history and is home to NASCAR headquarters.

Daytona Beach is recognized for its bustling beaches and is a favorite spring break destination due to its oceanfront hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, and shopping, as well as thriving nightlife.

The city’s obsession with motorsports is reflected in some of the largest festivals held each year, such as the Daytona 500 and Daytona Beach Bike Week, where thousands of bike enthusiasts rally to celebrate their love for motorsports.

This love for motorsports even extends to the beach were driving around in your car enjoying the views is legal. While it is a unique, convenient, and a fun experience in itself, it does make Daytona Beach much unsafe and less family-friendly compared to Cocoa Beach.

Best Beaches in Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach

This spectacular beach, also known as the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” was founded in 1870 and later acquired the name of the city, which was incorporated in 1874.

Daytona Beach has 8 miles of hard-packed white sands that make it easier for automobiles to drive on, which is one of the reasons for its rich origins in motorsports.

From beachside hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, and retail malls to the magnificent Pier spanning over the Atlantic Ocean, Daytona Beach is the “Party Capital” of Florida, attracting millions of guests each year, the majority of which are teenagers on spring break.

Daytona Beach, the most iconic beach on the East Coast, is sometimes overcrowded with largely boisterous young crowds enjoying their spring break holiday, so go early in the morning.

Sun Splash Park

If you want to get away from the claustrophobic crowds on Daytona Beach and have a fun-filled beach holiday, Sun Splash Park, a local favorite, is a 5-mile stretch of beach with fantastic activities and services for kids and their parents alike.

Because of its flat beachfront, sanitary conditions, and lifeguards on duty around the clock, this beach is one of the safest in Daytona Beach for children.

Bicentennial Park Beach

Another family-friendly beach, Bicentennial Park Beach, is located about 20 minutes north of the city center and offers a lengthy stretch of sugary white shoreline with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Kayaking, fishing, canoeing, beach volleyball, tennis, racquetball, shuffleboard, football, and more fun activities are available at the beach.

AI Weeks Sr. North Shore Park

AI Weeks Park at the Ormand-by-the-Sea, located an 18-minute drive north of Daytona Beach’s city center, has ADA-accessible facilities, a variety of amenities, and ease of access for those with disabilities.

New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is without a doubt the most beautiful and cleanest beach in DB, with 17 miles of white-sugary beachfront and crystal blue Atlantic Ocean seas.

Whether you’re with family, a loved one, or friends, New Smyrna Beach is the ideal location to spend quality beach time surfing, paddleboarding, or boogie boarding in the strong waves.

The beach features a variety of amenities, including ADA-accessible toilets, picnic spaces, and lifeguards on duty 24 hours a day.

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Nightlife in Cocoa vs Daytona Beach 🍻

Both Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach have some of the most vibrant nightlife in Florida, yet they offer very different experiences for different people.

Cocoa Beach is less congested than Daytona Beach, has a more laid-back old Florida vibe, and has a more family-friendly nightlife with food and entertainment options for families with small children.

Daytona Beach, being home to several major racing events and cultural festivals, appeals more to young folks seeking the ideal spring break vacation and adults seeking colorful and cosmopolitan vibes with crazy party scenes.

Things to do in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach activities

Visit the Ron Jon Surf Shop

The ‘Largest Surf Shop in the World” encompassing 52,000 sq ft of total area. Even if you are not a huge surfing enthusiast, visiting this Surf shop is a treat in itself.

Fat Kahuna’s Beachside Grille

Enjoy mouth-watering seafood with breezy outdoor seating and spectacular views of the ocean. 

Cocoa Beach Skate Park

A fantastic place to spend an evening with your children. This small, well-designed park is ideal for children who enjoy skating.

The park features great bowls, a street course, and lifeguards on the watch. When visiting the park in the summer, bring a water bottle with you because it can get very hot.

Explore Cocoa Beach’s history at Cocoa Village

Explore the revitalized, nostalgic community with more than 50 shops, restaurants, galleries, and artist studios.

Explore the Cocoa Beach Pier

For sun, sand, shopping, and seaside bliss all in one place.

Explore the Kennedy Space Center

A must-do activity on your Cocoa Beach vacation for kids and adults alike.

Cocoa Beach is a gateway to the amazing Kennedy Space Center, the hub of NASA’s major space exploration expeditions, including launching and space-related activities.

This historic complex stands as a testament to one of the biggest scientific achievements by humanity i.e sending humans into space.

Through fascinating tours, the Kennedy Space center tells the story of humankind’s march into space and the people who dedicated their lives to achieve what felt like a near-impossible feat at the time.

Things to do in Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach activities

Catch a thrilling NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway

Your trip to Daytona would be incomplete if you did not participate in the adrenaline-pumping motorsports at the Daytona International Speedway.

Daytona Beach has become synonymous with high-octane racing, and the Daytona International Speedway is the best place to catch some thrilling racing action.

This massive racing arena can accommodate thousands of people at a time and also offers fascinating tours of the Speedway (Speedway Tour or VIP tours).

Make a point of visiting the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, which honors racing in all of its forms and is a fun, vibrant, and exciting exhibit for both adults and children.

Visit the Daytona Beach Boardwalk

This historic pier, also known as Ocean Pier, Keating Pier, Pier Casino, and Main Street Pier, is a popular fishing spot for both locals and tourists.

The best part about fishing at Daytona Fishing Pier is that it is allowed at the east end of the Pier and is completely free. To top it all off, no fishing license is required to enjoy fishing at the Pier.

Take an educational tour at the Marine Science Center

The Marine Science Center is a must-see for both kids and adults who want to learn about the negative impact of humans on marine life, particularly local marine life.

This incredible research and learning facility is home to 200 species and thousands of marine life that are nursed back to health and then released back into their natural habitat.

Cocoa Beach vs Daytona Beach: Accommodation options

Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach each have a variety of hotel options directly on the beach, ranging from low-cost options to ultra-luxurious apartments that cater to your every need.

Daytona Beach, which hosts the largest racing events in the United States, has more oceanfront hotel alternatives than Cocoa Beach, as the beaches in Daytona Beach are far more commercialized than those in Cocoa Beach.

Cocoa Beach Pier is the finest spot to stay in Cocoa Beach since it has sun, sea, shopping, and seaside happiness all in one place, while New Smyrna Beach is the best place to stay in Daytona Beach.

The below table shows the average cost of accommodation for couples per night in Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach.

Accommodation type/ Place Cocoa BeachDaytona Beach
Budget $95$87
Mid-range $230$175

Best accommodation options in Cocoa Beach

Accommodation type💵Hotel🏨Location📍Best for👍
BudgetLa Quinta Inn By Wyndham Cocoa Beach-Port Canaveral N Atlantic aveSolo travellers, Budget travellers

Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral N Atlantic aveCouples, Families

Hilton Garden Inn Cocoa Beach OceanfrontNorth Atlantic aveCouples on a honeymoon, Families with kids

Best accommodation options in Daytona Beach

Accommodation type💵Hotel🏨Location📍Best for👍
BudgetQuality Inn Daytona Speedway I-95International Speedway BlvdSolo travellers, Budget travellers

Holiday Inn Resort Daytona Beach OceanfrontSouth Atlantic avenueCouples, Families

Bahama HouseSouth Atlantic avenueCouples on a honeymoon, Families with kids


Cocoa Beach is a better holiday destination than Daytona Beach if you want the best family vacation experience with world-class surfing beaches, reasonable oceanfront lodging, fine eating options, fun-filled activities on and off the beach, and a visit to the Kennedy Space Center.

Daytona Beach is your cloud nine if you enjoy livelier beaches with party atmosphere and large people, dynamic nightlife, thrilling motorsports, upmarket shopping centers, and other adventure activities.

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About the author
James Williams
James has been travel lover since childhood. Reading and traveling have been spiritual experiences for him. Learning about new places, cultures, and ways of life and sharing his own experiences and learnings has always been his passion.

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