A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Cocoa Beach vs. Pensacola for Beaches, Families, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Cocoa Beach and Pensacola. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a relaxing, adventurous, and fun-filled beach town. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Pensacola

Pensacola is a entertaining, fun-filled, and active beach town. It's also popular because of the food, beaches, and shopping.

Cocoa Beach and Pensacola: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Pensacola. Although Cocoa Beach and Pensacola are both popular with visitors, Pensacola has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Pensacola is more popular for its resorts, beaches, and hiking, while Cocoa Beach is known for its museums. Pensacola is more touristy than Cocoa Beach and is popular for its white sand beaches and long running naval history. It is also home to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Cocoa Beach is popular for its wonderful surfing waves and its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center.

How is Cocoa Beach different from Pensacola?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Pensacola and Cocoa Beach. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Cocoa Beach is notable for its sights and museums. Also, Pensacola is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its museums and history.

Many visitors head to Cocoa Beach specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The town's proximity to the Kennedy Space Center is a big appeal for space enthusiasts. It's easy to take advantage of the great beaches and then spend a day exploring the space center. Also in town is the Florida Surf Museum.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Pensacola. On a rainy day there are some nice museums in the area. You can visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Historic Pensacola Village, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, or Pensacola Children's Museum.


Is the Food Better in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Both Cocoa Beach and Pensacola offer high quality local cuisine and restaurants.

Cocoa Beach has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Seafood is the obvious choice in this beach town. Head to Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier for some great restaurants. In addition to seafood options, you'll find steakhouses, bistros, and pizza shops.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Pensacola makes for a great culinary experience. You'll find no shortage of seafood options around town. Oysters, shrimp, and fresh fish are popular on the menus. You'll also find lots of Cajun flavors as well as casual sandwiches and pizza.

Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Nightlife?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

The good nightlife scene is relatively similar in Cocoa Beach and Pensacola.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Cocoa Beach. You'll find a number of casual pubs, bars, and grills around town where you can grab a drink in a relaxed setting.

Pensacola has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. There's a casual nightlife scene with pubs, live music, and a mellow but fun setting.

Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Resorts?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Pensacola is a very popular place for its luxury resorts. Also, Cocoa Beach is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its resorts.

There are plenty of resorts in Pensacola to choose from. Family-friendly resorts with pools, waterslides, and lazy rivers are common. You'll also find beachfront hotels and more affordable options set back from the beach.

Cocoa Beach has a handful of resorts to choose from. There are casual and family-friendly resorts in the area that make for a nice beach vacation.


Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Beaches?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Pensacola is very popular for the beach. Also, Cocoa Beach is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its beaches.

Pensacola offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. White sand beaches with blue water and mild temperatures make this a wonderful beach destination. Some of the best beaches include Casino Beach, Perdido Key Beach, and Opal Beach.

Cocoa Beach is considered a top beach destination. There are long stretches of sand that are great for swimming, surfing, water sports, or just relaxing in the sun. The most popular area is around Cocoa Beach Pier. For family-friendly, head to James H. Nance Park which also has a playground. If you have a dog, Canova Beach Park is your best option.

Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Hiking?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Pensacola is a decent place to visit for its hiking trails. However, Cocoa Beach is not a hiking destination.

Hiking is a fun activity while in Pensacola. Step away from the beachfront development and you'll find some nice nature parks with quiet walking trails.

Cocoa Beach is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Shoppers can find a variety of good stores in both Cocoa Beach and Pensacola.

Cocoa Beach has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find lots of great local shops as well as malls and beach stores where you can pick up everything you need.

Pensacola is a great destination for shopping. There are sprawling shopping malls and shopping centers as well as local boutiques and quintessential souvenir shops.


Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Families?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Cocoa Beach is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Pensacola is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Cocoa Beach is one of the most popular family destinations. It's right by the Kennedy Space Center, which is a great excursion for kids and adults alike. There's also the Brevard Zoo, amazing beaches, and great parks where the kids can run around.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Pensacola. Kid-friendly beaches, minigolf, a zoo, and even a few museums make this a great family destination. There are family-friendly resorts and kid-friendly restaurants that make for an easy vacation that everyone will enjoy.

Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Couples?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Cocoa Beach and Pensacola both high quality destinations for a couple.

Cocoa Beach makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Beautiful beaches, fun outdoor activities, and great date night activities make this a wonderful couples destination.

Couples visit Pensacola frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Beautiful beaches and sunset cruises make this a great romantic getaway. You'll find great restaurants for a date night and plenty of activity once the sun goes down. During the day you can lounge on the beach or by the pool, sip drinks, and enjoy a vacation with your loved one.

Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Cocoa Beach is very good for its public transit. However, Pensacola is a mediocre beach town for times when you don't have a car.

Cocoa Beach has a few public transit options. You can hop on the Cocoa Beach Trolley to access many sights in the area. It's a service provided by the Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT).

Public transit is quite limited in Pensacola. There's a bus system, but it's not particularly helpful to vacationers.


Is Cocoa Beach or Pensacola a more walkable city?

Cocoa Beach
Pensacola

Cocoa Beach is very good for its high level of walkability. However, Pensacola is a mediocre beach town for its ease of walking around.

Cocoa Beach is a somewhat walkable place. For the most walkable areas stay near the town center. In general, you'll want to have a car to access most of what the area has to offer though.

Pensacola is generally not a very walkable beach town. It's not a particularly walkable city and you'll want to have a car to fully enjoy your vacation.

For even more information, also check out Is Cocoa Beach Worth Visiting? and Is Pensacola Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Pensacola or Cocoa Beach?

How long in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Both Cocoa Beach and Pensacola have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Pensacola than in Cocoa Beach. Usually, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Cocoa Beach, and 3-7 days is enough time in Pensacola.

Families should spend more time in Cocoa Beach than Pensacola. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Cocoa Beach, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cocoa Beach than Pensacola if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Cocoa Beach.


  • How many days in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cocoa Beach 2-5 
    Pensacola 3-7

One day in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

You'll find shopping and museums around the beach town of Cocoa Beach. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the fun-filled beach town of Pensacola. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the relaxing destination of Cocoa Beach. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this beach town has to offer. This beach town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the entertaining destination of Pensacola. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This beach town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

You'll find nightlife and food around the relaxing beach town of Cocoa Beach. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this beach town makes for a great vacation. It's also a great beach destination, too. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this beach town has to offer.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the entertaining beach town of Pensacola. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Cocoa Beach is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Pensacola. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. Most people visit for the beaches. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this beach town.


Which place is cheaper, Pensacola or Cocoa Beach?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cocoa Beach is $145, while the average daily cost in Pensacola is $198. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cocoa Beach and Pensacola in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cocoa Beach $85
    Pensacola $115
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cocoa Beach $170
    Pensacola $230
Compare Hotels in Cocoa Beach and Pensacola

Looking for a hotel in Cocoa Beach or Pensacola? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cocoa Beach


Hotels in Pensacola


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Cocoa Beach Hotel Prices and Pensacola Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cocoa Beach $26
    Pensacola $64

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cocoa Beach

Also for Cocoa Beach, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral Hotel transfers : $47
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne City: $72
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Port Canaveral: $218
  • Private Transfer from Cocoa to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $280
  • Private Transfer from Cocoa Beach to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $280
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $282
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Orlando-Sanford (SFB) Airport: $295

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Pensacola

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Pensacola:


  • Boca Grande Causeway Toll
    $5.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Pensacola

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Pensacola:

  • Pensacola to Pensacola International Airport (PNS) - Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $110
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Arrival Private Transfer: $55
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $143
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Arrival Private Transfer: $72

Is it cheaper to fly into Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Prices for flights to both Pensacola and Cocoa Beach change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cocoa Beach $43
    Pensacola $48

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cocoa Beach

For Cocoa Beach, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Guided Walking Food Tour in Cocoa Beach: $79
  • 3-Hour Indian River Queen Cruise with Dinner: $79
  • Guided Walking Food Tour in Cocoa Beach: $79
  • Village Food Tours Lunch & History Tour: $100

Typical Food Prices in Pensacola

Some typical examples of dining costs in Pensacola are as follows:


  • Two Ice Creams
    $6.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Pensacola

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Pensacola.

  • Seville Stroll Food Tour: $72

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cocoa Beach $16
    Pensacola $13

Tours and Activities in Cocoa Beach

For Cocoa Beach, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Palm Bay by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours on the Banana River: $40
  • Sunset Cruise on the Beautiful Banana River: $40
  • Dolphin Tours along and near the beautiful Indian River Lagoon : $40
  • Dolphin Tour with Local Expert: $45
  • Wildlife Refuge Dolphin, Manatee & Mangrove Kayak or Paddleboarding Tour!: $45
  • Thousand Islands Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour with Cocoa Kayaking!: $45
  • Manatee and Dolphin Kayak Tour: $45
  • Indian River Clear Bottom Kayak or Paddleboarding Manatee and Dolphin Tour : $45
  • 2 hour Dolphin Sightseeing Tour in Melbourne Florida : $45
  • Wildlife Refuge Sunset Dolphin, Manatee & Mangrove Kayak or Paddleboarding Tour!: $48
  • Dolphin and Manatee Kayak or Paddle Tour: $49

Typical Entertainment Prices in Pensacola

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Pensacola are as follows:


  • Bike Rental
    $16

Tours and Activities in Pensacola

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Pensacola are as follows:

  • 1hr Segway Tour Downtown : $57
  • 2hr Segway Tour of Downtown : $72
  • 3 Hour Sandbar Adventure on Motorized Floats: $69
  • 3 hours cruise with swimming: $81
  • Frisky Mermaid Fireworks Cruise Up to 49 Pax: $64
  • Frisky Mermaid Public Dolphin + Sightseeing Cruise Up to 49 Pax: $37
  • Frisky Mermaid Sunset Dolphin Tour Up to 49 Pax: $36
  • Ghosts and Graveyard Tour of Pensacola: $28
  • Hop-on Hop-off Tour in Pensacola : $32
  • Land Paddle Tour in Pensacola: $50
  • North Hill Historic Homes Tour of Pensacola: $25
  • Pensacola Beach Jolly Dolphin Cruise and Scenic Bay Tour: $39

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cocoa Beach $20
    Pensacola $44

Sample the Local Flavors in Cocoa Beach

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cocoa Beach:

  • Waterfront Happy Hour Bar Crawl: $39

Sample the Local Flavors in Pensacola

Also in Pensacola, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Walking Pub Tour : $21


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cocoa Beach and Pensacola, we can see that Pensacola is more expensive. And not only is Cocoa Beach much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cocoa Beach would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cocoa Beach and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Pensacola would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Pensacola than you might in Cocoa Beach.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cocoa Beach Expensive? and Is Pensacola Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Pensacola has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Cocoa Beach. When comparing the sizes of Cocoa Beach and Pensacola, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Cocoa Beach as well as Pensacola. Many travelers come to Cocoa Beach for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Pensacola in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Cocoa Beach is generally around the same temperature as Pensacola. Daily temperatures in Cocoa Beach average around 81°F (27°C), and Pensacola fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

It's quite rainy in Pensacola. Cocoa Beach receives a lot of rain in the summer. Cocoa Beach usually gets more rain in July than Pensacola. Cocoa Beach gets 8.3 inches (211 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 7.4 inches (189 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cocoa Beach 81°F (27°C) 
    Pensacola 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola in the Autumn?

Both Pensacola and Cocoa Beach are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Cocoa Beach in the autumn for the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Pensacola for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months.

Cocoa Beach is a little warmer than Pensacola in the autumn. The daily temperature in Cocoa Beach averages around 77°F (25°C) in October, and Pensacola fluctuates around 69°F (21°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Pensacola. It's quite rainy in Cocoa Beach. In October, Cocoa Beach usually receives around the same amount of rain as Pensacola. Cocoa Beach gets 4.1 inches (103 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 4.2 inches (107 mm) of rain each month for the autumn. The hurricane season in Cocoa Beach is June to November. The hurricane season in Pensacola is June to November.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cocoa Beach 77°F (25°C) 
    Pensacola 69°F (21°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola in the Winter?

Both Pensacola and Cocoa Beach during the winter are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Cocoa Beach for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Furthermore, the winter months attract visitors to Pensacola because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Cocoa Beach is much warmer than Pensacola. Typically, the winter temperatures in Cocoa Beach in January average around 63°F (17°C), and Pensacola averages at about 51°F (10°C).

Pensacola gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Cocoa Beach usually gets less rain in January than Pensacola. Cocoa Beach gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 4.6 inches (117 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cocoa Beach 63°F (17°C) 
    Pensacola 51°F (10°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Pensacola in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Cocoa Beach and Pensacola. The spring months attract visitors to Cocoa Beach because of the beaches. Furthermore, the beaches are the main draw to Pensacola this time of year.

In April, Cocoa Beach is generally a little warmer than Pensacola. Daily temperatures in Cocoa Beach average around 73°F (23°C), and Pensacola fluctuates around 67°F (20°C).

In April, Cocoa Beach usually receives less rain than Pensacola. Cocoa Beach gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain each month for the spring. June to November is the hurricane season in Cocoa Beach. June to November is the hurricane season in Pensacola.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cocoa Beach 73°F (23°C) 
    Pensacola 67°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Pensacola and Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Pensacola
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 63°F (17°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 51°F (10°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm)
Feb 62°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 54°F (12°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm)
Mar 67°F (20°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 60°F (16°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm)
Apr 73°F (23°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 67°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 74°F (24°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 7.1 inches (181 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (189 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 6.7 inches (171 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (188 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 7.2 inches (183 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5.3 inches (135 mm)
Oct 77°F (25°C) 4.1 inches (103 mm) 69°F (21°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Nov 69°F (21°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm) 61°F (16°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Dec 64°F (18°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm) 54°F (12°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm)