Home to 17 miles of pristine shoreline, numerous parks and our country’s most diverse estuary, New Smyrna Beach is an oasis for wildlife and those who love to catch a glimpse of it.

This writer happens to know from personal experience that a guided Turtle Mound River Tour excursion by boat is a wonderful way to enjoy close-up entertainment provided by a humorous, knowledgeable guide as well as playful dolphins jumping your wake and stunning seabirds (possibly even a bald eagle) against the panoramic backdrop of the Indian River and the Canaveral National Seashore coastline. Nice weather anytime is a good time for this tour!

Plus, here is what may be a lesser known fact…White (yes, white) pelicans migrate to this very area for the winter. Talk about your majestic snowbirds! And here’s another tip – a delicious one…Although you may be able to see these beautiful birds in flight or meandering throughout various spots in New Smyrna Beach, one of the places you are most likely to enjoy a peek is belly up to your favorite seaside table at the Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House – not far up the way on River Road in Oak Hill.

What you may be aware of, especially if you are lucky enough to be staying in a condo right on the exclusive beach property of The Inlet, is that New Smyrna Beach’s sea turtles are treasured by New Smyrna Beach residents and visitors alike; and they prove they love us too every year between May and October when a good number of them choose to build their nests and lay their eggs here. 

If you would like to enjoy an up close and personal view of these cherished local creatures (who also travel thousands of miles in a lifetime, I might add), you can book a guided tour for the Turtle Watch at Canaveral Seashore on select evenings, three or four per week, throughout June and July.

For those a little more adventurous who might like to head out on their own to expand your wildlife watching horizons, you may want to set your sights on the serene riverbanks of New Smyrna Beach. Set sail down scenic Spruce Creek in a rented (or your own, of course) kayak or canoe in search of Florida alligators, deer, birds and possibly even a manatee or two…or more! 

Maybe you would prefer your wildlife watching by land. Well, here’s an idea just for you. The 52-miles East Coast Regional Trail which spans from adjacent Edgewater to Enterprise is a birdwatcher’s paradise and this particular trail is paved and is quite wide. So, it is very pleasant to hike or bike and wheelchair accessible as well.

If you are familiar with the New Smyrna Beach area, then you know we are also blessed with manatees – our local, gentle giants of the sea; and if you are a wildlife lover, you definitely need to add a manatee sighting to your New Smyrna Beach wish list! 

For the area’s best manatee spotting site, many locals swear by Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park. So, grab a perch atop the fishing pier on the Indian River portion of the park and get ready for action. Just a heads-up or two…You will have more of a chance to spot manatees on especially chilly days and manatee season lasts into March here in Central Florida.

The Marine Discovery Center, stalwart stewards of the Indian River Lagoon and the pristine habitat for wildlife it provides, also provides amazing and unique opportunities for wildlife lovers. Among a myriad of other events and adventures, the Marine Discovery Center offers kayak tours by day or full moon guided by a certified naturalist. So, you can learn about New Smyrna Beach’s local ecosystem while you take in the sights along the Indian River Lagoon.

Birders may opt to participate in the Marine Discovery Center’s Wild About Birds program with wildlife rescuer and rehabilitation specialist Gina Holt and her two accompanying owls. This unique wildlife presentation takes an in-depth look at local owls and the role they play in our local ecosystem. It’s free to the public on select days from October through April.

The Marine Discovery Center also takes a special interest in young wildlife enthusiasts with summer camps for children from five to twelve years of age, which include hands-on and feet-wet nature-based education, conservation activities, salt marsh exploration by boat, marine-inspired games and more.

Less structured, but no less fun is exploration via paddleboard. Paddleboards can be acquired at numerous rental establishments throughout town and paddleboarding offers a relaxing, rejuvenating way to take in the beautiful scenery surrounding New Smyrna Beach while providing an exceptional source of exercise and serenity. 

If you prefer a little less exertion during your sightseeing quests, New Smyrna Beach offers all sorts of other rentals to aid in your sightseeing forays, such as boats. Here’s another helpful hint…Gerry’s Marina, located right on the North Causeway in New Smyrna Beach, is an excellent source for boat rentals.

Speaking of boats…Sure, you can rent a boat and cruise down the majestic Intracoastal Waterway or whatever New Smyrna Beach waterway you choose in search of wildlife, but you can also get quite a thrill, your fill of breathtaking scenery and a lesson in our diverse species of fish by booking a fishing charter. 

New Smyrna Beach’s fishing opportunities are as abundant as its wildlife. Choose from deep sea fishing – right off the shoreline of New Smyrna, where you can catch anything from mahi, which jump when you hook them and sparkle with colors as bright as a rainbow, to wahoo, tarpon (also with a predilection to acrobatics, but of the shiny, silvery sort), king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, tuna, very tasty grouper and red snapper and many more. Or river fishing, as our rivers are teeming with fish…very possibly including that elusive largemouth bass for which you have long been searching.


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