Paddle through tunnels of Mangroves, see stingrays in the shallow waters, and watch manatee feed along the edges. See a Rosy Spoonbill in a quiet lagoon. Take someone with you who will lead the way through spider webs.
Launch from the Ramp Road park in Cocoa Beach. It's a small park with three boat ramps - one is a double size, one a single, and a small kayak ramp.
The double boat ramp at Ramp Road in Cocoa Beach.
There is a single ramp, which we have used several times. It was at this ramp that I dropped my last camera into the water. It didn't survive the experience, but at least I was able to retrieve my manatee photos from it.
And then there is also a little kayak ramp. You can drag your boat across the grass to launch there.
Manatee approached our boats as soon as we were in the water one day. Obviously people had been feeding them, they were so eager to come up to us.
It was my very first Manatee Encounter, and I was thrilled that they came so close to me that I could feel their breath on my knees!
We didn't feed them, just watched them eat along the edge for a bit, then continued on our way.
When you leave the ramp, you head towards the open water of the Indian River. The Thousand Islands aren't really so much "islands" as they are clumps of mangrove trees. If you ever wanted to see a mangrove tree, here they are.
Looking towards the Indian River.
As you come around towards open water you find openings between the islands. Go into one of these openings, and you find yourself in a maze of tunnels going around, under and through the mangrove trees.
Mangrove are interesting plants, with their big, barnacle covered roots, and fat, hanging seed pods. This is a nice ride for a hot day when you need to get into some shade, but wear a hat - the first person through the tunnel gets to knock down all the spiderwebs!
Lily looks ahead at the next mangrove tunnel to go through.
It can be a little scary in there - we got lost in the labyrinth for a while. It wasn't that I didn't always know what direction we were going, just that we couldn't find a clear path out! We wandered around a good bit, and knew we were going down fresh trails when we hit fresh spiderwebs.
Luckily I had studied the arial map before it got wet and unreadable (note to self: get plastic ziplock bag for maps!), and we pushed our way through to open water again.