Connecting the north end of the Indian River Lagoon with the Mosquito Lagoon, Haulover Canal is always a tumultuous waterway due to the tides rushing back and forth between the two.
Having a place to launch a boat or a kayak without getting into the rough flow is a blessing, and Bairs Cove is the spot.
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Trailhead: 28.733150, -80.756378
Fees: $10 per vehicle or $2 per bicycle
Restroom: Vault toilet. No drinking water.
Land manager: Merritt Island NWR
A National Parks Pass, Duck Stamp, or Federal Public Lands Pass covers your parking fee.
Open 24 hours. Ample parking for boat trailers. No camping permitted.
From Interstate 95 exit 220, Titusville, follow SR 406 east for 8 miles to cross the Max Brewer Bridge and the causeway to Merritt Island. Stay left at the divide in the road. When you reach CR 3 at the T intersection, turn left. Just as you see the bridge for Haulover Canal up ahead, the turnoff to Bairs Cove is on the left.
About the Park
With a parking area to accommodate boat trailers, Bairs Cove is the easiest-to-access of all of the boat ramps in Merritt Island NWR.
A cove off Haulover Canal, its shallows also attract manatees to the warmer waters, especially during the winter months.
An accessible docking area provides a place to tie up as needed, but it also serves as a walkway for manatee watching.
The ramp enters a channel in the cove which leads out to the canal. Perpendicular to it is a hand launch area for kayaks and canoes to slip into the canal.
Some of the best summer bioluminescence can be seen in the shallow estuaries nearest the shoreline north and south of the canal.
Paddling the canal itself is tricky because of the tides. Consult a tide chart before attempting a paddle, especially if your plans are after dark.
Along the entrance road into Bairs Cove, there are several pulloffs that anglers use to cast a line into Haulover Canal.
They also slip along the shoreline on beaten paths leading towards the lagoon away from the launch.
Kayakers can slip their craft directly into the lagoon through a gap between the palms and mangroves at the very west edge of the parking area.
Learn more about Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Nearby destinations on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Where Haulover Canal connects the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon in Merritt Island NWR, a manatee observation deck makes it easy to watch for manatees drifting by
See our photos of Bairs Cove