Port Canaveral port is very easy to enter, in any weather. Cruise ships, freighters, and the Navy use the port, so it is well marked and very deep and wide. Tides run about 4', but there is no tidal current, because, unlike many other ports on the east coast of Florida, Port Canaveral is not directly connected to a bay so there is no extra water to drain/fill.
For an overnight stop, I would probably stay at a marina in the port - no anchorage in the port. The alternative would be to exit the port to the west via the locks and anchor out in the Banana River Lagoon. For a longer-term stay, there are marinas on the Indian River Lagoon (aka Intracoastal Waterway), both north and south of the Merritt Island Barge Canal, and even on the barge canal itself.
Just north of the port, with very visible rocket towers, are the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This part of the coastline is generally off-limits. South of the port are the beach towns of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.
The port runs east-west, about a mile inland, with three turning basins on the north side. Everything on the north side of the port is off limits (navy base, bulk freight terminals, coast guard terminal, cruise ship terminals). Marinas for cruising boats are all the way in the port, on the south side, just before the draw bridge.
On the south side of the port, starting from the entrance and proceeding westward are: Fishing Jetty and campgrounds at Jetty Park (county park), fuel oil barge terminal, port pilot boat landing, Sterling casino boat terminal, public boat ramp, Grills bar and grill, Sunset Marina, Seafood Atlantic wholesale and retail seafood, SunCruise casino boat terminal, Fishlips bar and grill, fishing charter boat dockage, Redhead's martini bar, Rusty's bar and grill, commercial fishing boat dockage, Cape Marina, yacht club, Scorpion's Marina, draw bridge, locks.
There is a draw bridge at the west end of the port. It operates on-demand from early morning till after dark. Bridge tender monitors VHF 13. Bridge tender requests you contact him even if bridge is opening for other boats.
There are locks just west of the draw bridge. They operate on-demand from early morning till after dark. Lock tender monitors VHF 09 and answers the telephone, if not busy operating the locks. Contact with tender not necessary if going through with other boats. In fact, contact is probably not really necessary at all as tender will usually open locks if he sees you floating nearby. There are red-green traffic lights on the south side of the fenders to indicate lock status. Outcoming traffic has the right of way.
Easy access at floating fuel docks at both Cape Marina and Scorpion's New Port Marina. Perhaps at Sunrise Marina.
There is no designated anchorage in Port Canaveral. Perhaps you could anchor temporarily near the draw bridge, but I wouldn't be surprised to get a visit by security.
Sunrise Marina. Not sure about fuel. A few wet slips for local fishing charter boats and dry storage for small private fishing boats. Not much here for cruisers.
Cape Marina (yellow buildings). (321) 783-8410. They have a fuel dock and a transient dock. I think the transient dock is a floating dock. Ashore they have covered pavilions with picnic tables, grills, showers, etc. Also a small ships store.
Cocoa Beach Yacht Club (now called Port Canaveral Yacht Club?). This is the dock just between Cape Marina and Scorpion's. I've heard of people staying there temporarily, but I know nothing about it -- they have no transient dock.
Scorpion's New Port Marina (blue buildings). (321) 784-5788. They have a fuel dock and a transient dock. Transient dock is fixed (does not float), so some small amount of climbing may be required based on the tide. This is our home base -- against the seawall between the work boats and the yacht club.
Everything is on the south side of the port, all in The Cove along the waterfront on George King Blvd, except Mickey's Deli which is near the highway on Mullet Drive between Cape Marina and Scorpion's Marina.
Grills Bar and Restaraunt. Waterfront. Recommended, especially the fish sandwich for lunch. About halfway in the port on the south side is Grills. Grills is probably close to a mile walking from Cape Marina. Dinghy is no problem in the port, but there is no official dinghy dock. There is a boat ramp adjacent to Grills with floating docks that you could probably tie up to. Also, adjacent on the other side is Sunrise Marina, which is mostly dry storage, but there are a few wet slips and there may be a spot to tie up there.
Rusty's Raw Bar. Waterfront. Recommended, but less consistent than Grills -- sometimes the food is fantastic and sometimes only just okay.
Redhead's Martina Bar. Waterfront. No food, just a few light snacks. Live music.
Ryan's. Formerly known as Frankie's Wings and Things. At times a great place, but lately food and atmosphere has beenlame.
Paul's Smokehouse. Recommended. Open for lunch. Vacuum-packed smoked meats available for retail purchase.
Copperhead Saloon. Newly opened. Country music. Haven't been there yet.
Mickey's Deli. Recommended.
None in the port, but hotels and condos nearby in Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. Closest hotel is Radisson at the Port on Hwy A1A in Cape Canaveral, about a mile from the port. Also, Ron Jon Resort rents condos just outside the portnear Jetty Park and the beach.
Access to the Banana River Lagoon is via the draw bridge and the locks at the west end of the port.
There are basically no tides (less than 6") or current in either the Banana or Indian rivers.
Cruising boats can anchor temporarily either north or south of the locks in the Banana River.
South of the locks, between the locks and the causeway (i.e., bridge) is a little cove that is a popular anchorage. Many boats have been anchoring here long-term, but many of the boats have become derelick and the port is discouraging that and asking owners to move their boats or risk fines. There are many fewer half-sunk boats here now than there have been, but as of Spring 2006 there are still several small boats, a large barge, and a small freighter lying awash. Despite all that, there is plenty of room to anchor and for a couple nights port security will not bother you.
Just past the lock-fenders is a channel marker on the north side of the barge canal. This marker marks a channel leading north up the banana river. There are two anchorages available off this channel north of the barge canal. On the west side of the channel are some concrete barge pilings (used occasionally) and to the east are some spoil islands. (A) Anchor anywhere to the west of the channel between the concrete pilings and the power lines in 6'. (B) Go east between the spoil islands (you should have 6') and anchor closer in to the east shore in 10-13'.
Best dinghy access will be on the south side of the causeway/bridge (Hwy 528 aka Beeline Expressway) on the west side of the Banana river at Kelly Park (Banana River Blvd exit from 528). Alternatively, you can dinghy through the locks to the port. Another possiblity is to dinghy south in the Banana River past the next causeway/bridge (Hwy 520 aka Merritt Island Causeway) to Cocoa Beach (on the east side of the river) or Merritt Island (on the west side of the river). On the Cocoa Beach side you will find a couple bars/restaurants with dinghy docks and will be walking distance to significant tourist facilities. On the Merritt Island side you will find a couple more restaurants (recommended: Cactas Flower mexican restaurant).
Access to the Indian River Lagoon is via the draw bridge and the locks at the west end of the port, across the Banana River, and through the Barge Canal that bisects Merritt Island.
There are basically no tides (less than 6") or current in either the Banana or Indian rivers or in the barge canal.
Cruising boats can find viable anchorage basically anywhere along the Indian River out of the ICW channel where depth permits. Likely spots are just north of the barge canal where it joins the ICW, behind the spoil islands. Slightly deeper water can be found just south of the causeway/bridge and east of the ICW.
Coastal Ship Repair (up to 18' beam? or crane) Merritt Island Doug Moore (321) 452-9600 (321) 403-5064 (cell) (321) 454-6348 (home) Scorpion's New Port Marina (up to 22' beam) Port Canaveral (321) 784-5788 (office) (321) 799-9411 (service?) Cape Marina (up to 18' beam?) Port Canaveral (321) 783-8410
Ape Wax & Detail Port Canaveral Ken (321) 784-5678 407-716-6364 Brevard Canvas Cape Canaveral Tim Myers (321) 784-0444 Mazza Marine Service Merritt Island Jim Mazza (321) 636-5725 Duys Marine Electronics Port Canaveral Zach Duys (321) 799-2340 (office) (321) 302-6158 (cell) Welding Merritt Island (near Coastal Ship Repair) Tony Ford
Ships Store at Cape Marina, Port Canaveral West Marine: Hwy 520 on Merritt Island, and 3 stores in/near Melbourne Boaters Exchange: Hwy US1 in Rockledge Boathouse Discount Marine: Hwy US1 in Melbourne