Upon arriving at Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort, my first impression was that the resort looked rather unassuming. The main property is comprised of six two-story buildings and the lobby-marketplace-sales building in a simple, rectangular arrangement. Delving deeper into my three-night stay, though, I quickly realized what this sneakily exciting resort and its nearby attractions were all about.
I’ll use one phrase to sum up Westgate Cocoa Beach: an ideal, affordable family-vacation spot.
Stepping inside the internal courtyard, you’ll instantly see why there’s an emphasis on “family vacation” here. For starters, there’s the Wakulla Falls Water Park, which is made up of a warm, soothing lazy river with complimentary tubes and what is dubbed the “splash pad,” a centrally located, zoned-off section of the water park with water slides and a fort that children of all ages can enjoy (were it not for my fear of possibly getting stuck, I would’ve tried the slide).
Flanking the water park is the pool area to the west, boasting a kids’ pool within a few steps of the jacuzzi and the main swimming pool. You’ll also notice the Aloha Tiki Bar & Café adjacent to the jacuzzi—I munched on a cheeseburger and devoured at least two ice-cream sandwiches [a day] from here. Beachside and on the other side of the lazy river is the Makua Lanai Adult Relaxation Zone, boasting ample seating reminiscent of a Caribbean resort and a coal fireplace.
Westgate Cocoa Beach has more to offer adults than just a pool and a few chairs, though. Head toward the beach where you can learn to surf and play volleyball or any number of other beach sports. Prefer to sunbathe and listen to the melody of ocean waters serenade you into a warming slumber (don’t forget sunscreen)? Westgate offers its guests complimentary beach chairs, towels, coolers for beers (and White Claws) and Bluetooth speakers.
The surrounding area is not without its attractions, either. Take a regularly running trolley to the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier where there are two restaurants, a snacks hut, a boardwalk bar and the Rikki Tiki Tavern (said to be completely constructed without power tools by the Seminole Tribe) fixated 800 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We ended two nights here under the stars with delicious cocktails and beers, as tropical island songs blared at just the right volume.
Without the kids in tow, walk over to Sandbar Sports Grill, a colorful, lively bar that plays live music and is packed to the brim on Saturday nights. Nursing a Blue Moon, I grooved to a local band called Love Valley that played rock and blues music that I can only describe as awesome in its most literal definition.
A trip to Cocoa Beach isn’t complete without a visit to two of the area’s biggest attractions: first, the famed Ron Jon Surf Shop just a couple blocks from the resort. At 52,000 square feet, this two-story mega beach store is the largest surf shop in the world. It’s also open 24 hours a day, so our group went around 10 p.m. and had the vast store almost all to ourselves.
Feeling a little more explorative? Spend 25 minutes to make the drive to Kennedy Space Center. Its visitor sections are essentially a theme park dedicated to space, space technology and space exploration, complete with simulators, educational shows, gift shops and tours – all without the hassle of big crowds and long lines. My favorite attraction was a show about the moon-landing that was set in the very control room used to coordinate the monumental feat.
At the end of a long day surfing, eating, drinking, beaching and space-learning, head back to your suite that serves as a makeshift home-away-from-home. Perfect for a vacation, this resort’s accommodations are also ideal for romantic Cocoa Beach weddings.
The six recently renovated buildings feature 120 two-bedroom, 812-square-foot suites with a living area, a dining area and a full kitchen with stainless-steel appliances and all the kitchenware needed to prepare all meals in-house, if you so choose. A king-sized bed resides in the master bedroom, the second bedroom has two twin beds, and there’s a queen-sized sleeper sofa in the living area.
Furthermore, both bedrooms and the living area have 43-inch TVs. Both bedrooms also have dressers with complimentary hangers. The non-master bathroom has two side-by-side sinks and a standard tub-shower. In the master bath, there’s a three-faucet shower (rainforest, traditional, mobile) and an adjacent vanity area. There’s also a full-body mirror where both bedroom doors meet.
I arrived at Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort without many expectations and, perhaps, with a little skepticism. The plain-looking exterior with hints at Tiki culture almost seemed cliché to me, but, once I gave it a legitimate chance, those preconceptions became misconceptions and were thrown out the window.
At 25-years-old, I don’t have a wife and kids (not even a girlfriend, at that), but my inner child said he would’ve had a blast here. As an adult, the experience was nothing short of an idyllic beach getaway: a beer (or three) by 11 a.m., a peaceful, relaxing beach and a bevy of nearby delicious-food and thirst-quenching drink spots. Consider me ready to book a room here the next time I return to Cocoa Beach.