Things I Love about Cocoa Beach
from The Beachside Resident

Here’s a simple writing exercise that could change your life. Take a half-hour out of your day and find a peaceful place to sit with your computer or a pad of paper. A cafĂ© will do nicely, a quiet picnic spot, a kitchen table. The office desk will suffice in a pinch. Sit down, then, and write out a list of the things you love. Anything works — food, scenery, people, movies. Anything. Make the list true. Make it extensive. Stay on task for at least half an hour. An hour is preferable, if your wrist and wits allow.

Don’t be discouraged if the going is slow. The first five to ten items will be the hardest to dig up. But if you’re a positive spirit, the list will begin to flow out of you, like hot water from a faucet that has taken a few moments to warm. It is a silly business, I know, but I promise the experience will be illuminating, and possibly empowering. It is a sort of therapy I discovered completely by accident during a heartbreaking period in my life in my early twenties.

Give it a try.

As for this month’s column, I submit for your amusement a variation on this general theme. What follows is a list of things I love about Cocoa Beach, my hometown. Take it as a sort of jazz accompaniment to this five-minute lull in your day.

And by all means, enjoy your drink.

Things I Love about Cocoa Beach

paper-thin yellow butterflies

plumeria blossoms

papaya trees

Cedar Road oaks tangled in sunlight

brushed-glass skies over the ocean

cargo ships floating in mist

streaks of fire arcing over the Cape

time-delayed shuttle roars

paratrooper training days

cresting waves at dawn

offshore sprays

chop surfing sessions

light north drifts

west winds

four-foot glass

eight-foot glass

six-foot high tide barrels

lake-like flatness and an inflatable raft

old, rusty sunglasses

two-foot glass

flip flops

Core Surf stickers

brunch at Simply Delicious

baked brie at Heidi’s

knowing that everything will rust, eventually

the ghost of the Glass Bank

peacocks perched atop car hoods

playgrounds in the sun

mangroves at blue dusk

sleek, hunting redfish

casting for mullet

million-hued sunsets melting into the river

dolphin fins cutting through mercury

the shadows beneath the poinciana trees, summer

monarch butterflies, dancing in milkweed


manatee huffs

dolphin sighs

trout plops

pelican dives

gull cries

anhinga curdles

anything on The Fat Snook’s menu

the local vibe at 13th Street

shouting “Kooks go home!” out your car window

long-haired boys

long-haired girls

the smell of an oncoming hurricane

when the wind comes to sweep everything away

when the wind calms again

when the wind smells of conifers

when the wind blows from the west (again)

Tony Sasso’s pig roasts

the Cocoa Beach cops (who don’t pull over the locals)

the locals

the street parties

the art scene


Rick Piper

Henry Lund

Bruce Reynolds

Stu Sharpe

the nestled serenity of the Beachside Guesthouses

lightly buttered fish at the Pompano Grill

the old peppered strawberries at Fischer’s

miles and miles of beachbreak — when it’s working

secret shoals and deep spots — when it’s not

the magical spirit of Driftwood House

hundreds of white pelicans roosting in the river

cruising the Banana River on a stand-up paddleboard

exploring the Thousand Islands by canoe

a cruiser cycle ride on the beach, low tide

everything about October

bright cloudless winter days

Jazz nights at Heidi’s

seeing elderly couples holding hands, after all these years

Sunday morning roads, empty and clean

the sages who roam the aisles at Ace Hardware and hold the answers to life’s every problem

playing tennis at Ramp Road park

skateboarding down Brevard Avenue, mid-day, summer, after it has been re-paved

soul sessions at 6th Street

family-style longboarding at 11th street

high-tide hurricane swells, on the fish

the roast beef subs from Boardheads Deli

afternoon tea in the back yard

the multi-layered, bizarre history of the town

Mayo Surfboards

the space program

neon phosphoresence in the river at night

airborne schools of mullet

the syrupy smell of jasmine in bloom, once a year

yellow and pink hibiscus polka-dotting the road

the measured ease of Country Club Drive

high-drifting clouds, skirting the edge of the sun

distant purple rainclouds, strafing the western sky

double rainbows over the ocean

sighting a bald eagle

snowy egrets, their tails ruffling like ladies’ hats

the rhythmic shush of the waves, four blocks away, after dark

the starriest, most articulate winter nights

huddling close

sharing a bottle of wine on the beach, night

kissing in the full light of the moon

watching a child’s fingertips pluck tiny penta flowers

the Norfolk pines

the music at Cafe Surfinista

the hanging orchids

the skyline, low and organic, as seen from the ocean

the pizza at The Shark Pit, and the fish tank

Roy at Oceansports World

Tom Neilson shapes

O’Hare shapes

the sushi — if it’s fresh

the espresso martinis

Chris Birch shapes

the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum, and its inspirational exhibits

Sunseed Co-op

hovering through the aisles of Publix, on a slow day

tequila sunrises at Coconut’s, on a very slow day

jogging the beach


falling asleep in the sand

cold beer on the beach

freedom, hope, and good sanitation

the “Locals Only” parking pass

“Old Guys Rule” bumper stickers

Longboard House bumper stickers

Salick bumper stickers

kids who sport retro-style ’70s hairdos

the skate park

Cocoa Beach High sports

the legacy of Kelly Slater

tiki huts



Roberto’s Little Havana, coffee and cuban melts

Ricky Carroll shapes

kite surfers launching airs

the nighttime view from the 520 bridge

watching it rain through a blurry window

the song, twitch and scamper of the squirrels

the lizards, both the small and monstrous

the hummingbirds, both rare and magical

the fact that we are on an island

the narrowness of the south end, two hundred feet from river to ocean

when the third sandbar breaks

when the second sandbar breaks

when any sandbar breaks, really

the occasional 100-foot tall cabbage palm, swaying gently above it all

when an ocean-going dolphin looks you in the eye

manatee mating season

the slowness of summer

the flight of the great herons

white ibises, scratching themselves

moments of unimaginable beauty

passion flowers