Article and photos by Fred Mays
If you’re beachside and looking for a quiet place to watch a sunset, head for the Melbourne Beach pier, on the lagoon side of the island.
Located at the far west end of Ocean Avenue and Riverside Drive, the pier juts 650 feet out into the Indian River Lagoon. It’s a perfect spot for sunsets, fishing, and perhaps even seeing dolphins and manatees in the lagoon.
The original pier was built in 1889 by the Melbourne and Atlantic Railroad Company. It was used as a pier for freighters to deliver goods to the island from the mainland. It also served as a ferry terminal to transport beach loving tourists to the island. There was even a narrow gauge rail line that ran over a half mile to take people from the pier to the beach.
At one time the post office for the beach community was located right at the foot of the pier, as the mail was delivered to the island by boat. The pier was the center of commerce for Melbourne Beach for over 30 years, until the Indialantic causeway was built in 1921. It quickly drew all the traffic and the pier was relegated to recreation use after that.
Fishing and sunsets are the main attraction today. There are benches along the shore, and at the end of the pier, for people to enjoy those last rays of the day.
There is also Ryckman Park at the end of Ocean Avenue. It has a playground and open spaces for families and kids to enjoy.
Parking at the park and along the street is ample most of the time, but it gets a little difficult to find a space as people show up in the evening for sundown.
The Melbourne Beach Pier was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1984.