Most of the Banana River north of Port Canaveral and the Beach Line Highway (SR 528) has been closed to motor boats for the protection for manatees since 1990. This area often has one of the highest concentrations of manatees in Florida. Boaters generally refer to this area as the “No Motor Zone” or “NMZ” as motorized vessels including any vessel having an attached or non-attached internal combustion or electric trolling motor capable of use are prohibited.
This 10,600 acre open water area is one of the few places in Florida free from motor boats and has become a popular destination for paddleboarders, kayaks and fishermen. The shoreline on the north, east, and west side of the lagoon is within the “Security Area” of the NASA, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; therefore access to the No Motor Zone is very limited and restricted to two locations from the south. From the southwest side, KARS Park provides a 30 car parking lot, store for ice and supplies, and restrooms. The launch site is located at the north end of KARS Park and provides direct access into the No Motor Zone. KARS Park charges a $5.00 per boat launch fee which can be paid at the KARS store. KARS Park is located at the east end of Hall Road off Courtney Parkway (SR3). From the southeast side, paddlers can launch off of the 401 Causeway north of the Cruise Terminals at Port Canaveral. Paddlers on the east side, be advised, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station maintains a permanent closed area that extends 10,000 feet into the Banana River and occupies about half the east shoreline. This closure is marked with buoys.
The open waters of the Banana River can be very rough during windy conditions. It’s best to get a weather forecast before planning your trip or picking a launch site. Camping is not permitted and several of the islands are closed to protect nesting birds.