- Things to Do
- Outdoors & Nature
- Explore the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
– Gary McKechnie
Explore the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
By Gary McKechnie
To see Florida the way it was before there were buildings, billboards, subdivisions, (and electricity even), I’d suggest you head off the beaten path to just east of Titusville and the Black Point Drive entrance to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Covering more than 140,000 acres, the natural preserve is a throwback to a simpler time, when it didn’t take a thrill ride or a 3D film to entertain you.
It’s also a throwback to the early days of America’s space program, since the refuge—established in 1963—was needed to provide a buffer zone between civilization and the ready-to-launch rockets.
At the visitor’s center you can watch a video about your surroundings, hike a nearby trail, and look for manatees from a viewing area. You’ll also find boat launch areas and sites for fishing.
Along seven-mile Black Point Drive Loop, the pleasure is in a slow and meandering exploration on a dirt road that crosses a variety of ecosystems and reveals an abundance of wildlife (often camouflaged by the surroundings). According to the rangers, more than 50 species of waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors live here.
A little more than midway through the drive you’ll find restrooms as well as a hiking trail that leads further into the wilderness. About 100 yards away, an observation beckons and should you go to it and climb the steps, the surrounding view is majestic in that “I didn’t realize how pretty emptiness can be” sort of way.
The wide expanse of land, the new (yet familiar) sight of Florida, the understanding that the slower you drive the more you’ll see…it all conspires to remind you of the natural beauty that’s available to us every day.
If You Go:
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Phone: (321) 861-5601
SPONSORS & PARTNERS
Things to do
- Merritt Island Tourism
- Merritt Island Hotels
- Merritt Island Bed and Breakfast
- Merritt Island Vacation Rentals
- Merritt Island Vacation Packages
- Flights to Merritt Island
- Merritt Island Restaurants
- Things to Do in Merritt Island
- Merritt Island Travel Forum
- Merritt Island Photos
- Merritt Island Map
- Merritt Island Travel Guide
- All Merritt Island Hotels
- Merritt Island Hotel Deals
- Near Landmarks
- Hotels near Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Hotels near Black Point Wildlife Drive
- Hotels near Space Shuttle Atlantis
- Hotels near Brevard Veterans Memorial Museum & Military Museum
- Hotels near Sams House at Pine Island
- Hotels near Obloy Family Ranch
- Near Airports
- Hotels near (MCO) Orlando Intl Airport
- Hotels near (SFB) Orlando Sanford International Airport
- Hotels near (MLB) Melbourne Intl Airport
- All Merritt Island Restaurants
- Restaurants near Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
- All things to do in Merritt Island
- Things to do near Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Travel Guides
- Road Trips
- Travel feed: Merritt Island
- Things to do
- Vacation Rentals
- Travel Forum
- Best of 2018
- Road Trips
- Help Center
- Recently viewed
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: Address, Phone Number, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Reviews: 4.5/5
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
This attraction features animals
Click below for expert advice on animal welfare in tourism.
We traveled there on our last day this past week and it was the highlight of the trip!! We went to…
We had a fantastic time at the Refuge. We saw manatees, alligators, roseate spoonbills, a raccoon…
Read all 834 reviews
- Tours & Tickets
- Very good20%
“visitor center” (93 reviews)
“manatee viewing” (30 reviews)
“roseate spoonbills” (49 reviews)
We traveled there on our last day this past week and it was the highlight of the trip!! We went to the Manatee viewing area and were there for 15 minutes…saw nothing! People came and went but we decided to stay. My 11 year-old started…More
We had a fantastic time at the Refuge. We saw manatees, alligators, roseate spoonbills, a raccoon mum with her baby and a bald eagle. The landscape is beautiful too.
Make sure you stop at the Information Center- they have maps, drinks, bug spray (recommended!) and…More
For a November Day there were reptiles as well as birds to be seen. Nice selection of large birds – herons, egrets and ibis. Gators (up to 10 ft) and several small lizards on rocks and boardwalks. Warm with some wind but a great a…More
We spent some time here. Started at the Visitor Centre (and saw an alligator) along with birds and plants. We then went further afield and saw Manatees, a wild dolphin, snakes and lots of birds and plants. A must for any nature lover.
Planned a trip here, not knowing what to expect. Really wanted to see manatees. Started at the visitor center, decided to walk all the trails, saw all types of birds, raccoons, snakes, and flora. They have a black point drive 6 miles, cost 10.00, but…More
If you like seeing nature, you’ll love this place. There’s a welcome center that has a boardwalk. The place is so immense, you could spend a few days there.
What a fantastic day! Very relaxing drives or hikes if you like. We spent an hour watching the manatees (16) before heading to the various trails. Wonderful day trip.
BlackPoint Drive is one of our most favorite places to go. Be sure to visit the welcome center, too!
No need to go to the Bahamas. Just come here! It’s just you and the sea. Dont forget sunscreen or rent an umbrella.
Gorgeous island, really beautiful. Forget the busy manatee viewing point and head for Bairs Cove Boat Ramp instead. There were maybe 30 manatees including babies playing in the water there – we’d previously paddled with them in kayaks (see my review of A Day Away…More
Ask a question
AnswerShow all 3 answers Hide all answers
AnswerShow all 5 answers Hide all answers
Where & when can you see Manatees? (Thank you)
AnswerShow all 9 answers Hide all answers