Blissful solitude of the Banana River “No Motor Zone”

NMZ, no not the DMZ, the NO motor zone of Kennedy Space Center.

The official name of the NMZ is: Banana River Manatee Sanctuary, however others call it..........

“Jurassic Park!” said the excited paddler who coming into the launch point as I was heading out to paddle some miles for race training.

 “19 tarpon I hooked today! I did not even count the reds and trout!” exclaimed the paddler unloading his fly rod.

I was catching his enthusiasm, sadly however I had omitted bringing a fishing pole because I needed to practice for the MR340 kayak race.

Dawn & Ten Thousand acres of water to yourself!

The No Motor Zone of Kennedy Space Center: You might have heard the stories already- Voracious redfish. Rolling tarpon, killer jacks, schooling seatrout. Silver Snook on the mangrove edges and monster tailing black drum. Magnificent Frigate birds and hovering osprey. Pink Spoonbills.

And so it was as I pushed into the “No Motor Zone” or “NMZ” The southern boundary water of Kennedy Space Center that has been closed to as motorized vessels since 1990 and my favorite place to paddle on the Florida East coast.

In this 10,600 acres of open water,-roughly  35 square miles of solitude and silence- a busy day might be a dozen kayaks or canoes, a sail boat and an athletic paddle boarder or two. Most week days—we are the sole users-which is utterly amazing.

Escape to a silent Florida!

My sole companion for 10,000 acres!

Nearly all of the Banana River north of Port Canaveral and the Beach Line Highway (SR 528) is open for sail or human powered water craft only. “No Motor Zone”–the silence is stunning!

Internal combustion or electric trolling motor are prohibited- consequently, you might hear a manatee exhale two hundred or more yards away. The NMZ often has one of the highest concentrations of manatees in Florida.

In the summer you can hear jacks hitting the bait fish from a half a mile away!

In the winter the noise of migratory ducks lifting from the water is so majestic it is only rivaled by the launch of rockets in the NMZ.

A KSC airboat or security boat might be the only motorized vehicle seen in the sanctuary.--If you step ashore in the prohibited areas -KSC security will find you.

And of course, as this is a federaly owned area, you are not allowed to pick up either Native American Indian Artifacts or the odd Spanish gold coins - often collected as a curiosity by the Ais Indians of the Space Coast

Do not paddle north of the bridge or the SWAT team will find you. Photo: a NASA barges pushes towards the KSC Turn Basin. Photo Credit: NASA

Let me repeat: If you foolishly paddle north of the NASA causeway under the bridge---The SWAT team will.....very quickly escort you out.

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; access to the NMZ is from the 528 beachline, KARS Park or if you possess a badge, NASA causeway to the north.

If you do not possess a KSC or CCAFS badge, the quickest way into the Banana River Manatee Sanctuary is via KARS Park.

To find KARS Park, exit SR 528 at SR 3 and go north to Hall Road.  Take Hall Road east until it dead ends into KARS Park.

Note: KARS park is a private Membership only park. However "Non-members" can pay a $5.00 launch fee to use the primitive kayak/canoe launch area.                                                                              Well worth it! The added benefit of using KARS park is security from vandalism and an available bathroom.

Simple warning about the KARS Park canoe/Kayak launch areas. Both the Members launch area and the $5.00 guest launch areas are MUCKY AND MUDDY. Not a problem going out-except if you lose a shoe.

However I try to keep a spare half gallon of water to wash off before getting into my truck.

You Tube video of Kars Park and the wide expanse of the No Motor Zone

With all the open water, east coast sea breezes and Florida Summer storms one should always use caution in the NMZ-Have a plan!

I dwell upon summer storms in the NMZ in my Safety on the IRL page

Finally found another companion in the NMZ

(Other alligator photos)

Map of the No Motor Zone, North Banana River.

(I omitted the 528 Beachline and the power poles that mark most of the southern boundary of the NMZ)


If fishing in the No Motor Zone, you must print and sign the FREE Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge Fishing Permit

Depending upon which area you launch from, cell phones are mandatory safety equipment.

Port Canaveral in the distance to the south. The just visible power lines are a good marker for the southern boundary of the NMZ

Never forget you are guest in a wildlife sanctuary!

Wild Turkeys of Kennedy Space Center

Return Home from the NO Motor Zone page