The Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is our main location for kayak tours. We launch from the Haulover Canal and watch as the Indian River Lagoon lights up with bioluminescent comb jellies and dinoflagellates. During the day we are able to see dolphins, manatees and plenty of birds. If you’re planning on coming out on one of our kayak tours, we always recommend coming out a little earlier to see all that the Wildlife Refuge has to offer.
When driving to our launch site at the Haulover Canal, you’ll pass by a road called Black Point Drive. This is a seven mile trail that you are able to drive through to see the wildlife and the beautiful views that the Refuge has. Some of the animals you are able to see include birds – if you look up into the pine trees, you may be able to see a bald eagle’s nest – and alligators.
If you prefer to walk, check out the Cruickshank Trail. This trail is nearly five miles long and has an observation deck that looks out over the marshes. For a shorter hike, there is the Oak Hammock Trail that is about three quarters of a mile and an easy walk. (Both of these trails are a wonderful way to see the natural landscape of Florida, but you may have better luck seeing wildlife on the Cruickshank Trail).
If you’re joining us for our bioluminescence tour but still want a chance to see the manatees, make sure to stop by the Manatee Viewing Deck which is just across the road from our launch site. This observation deck is handicap accessible and a great stop before heading out on your tour to see the manatees in their natural habitat. Visit this page to learn more about manatees and how to spot them in the wild:
When you’re entering or leaving the refuge, don’t forget to stop at their Visitors Center. Here, you can find plenty of information about the Wildlife Refuge and the organisms that call it home. They have exhibits, movies, a book store and more. It’s always worth going in on your visit to learn more about the plants and wildlife that you are observing.