A Space Coast peninsula with a booming market

With a landscape of sunny coastal dunes, saltwater marshes and mesic forests, as well as a hot and humid climate, the seaside town of Merritt Island in eastern Florida often resembles a tropical island.

“The first time I hiked the South Tropical Trail, I could have sworn I had been transported to the Caribbean,” says Grace Vista, luxury and waterfront properties specialist at Dale Sorensen. Real Estate. “The land gets so narrow there’s water on either side of the street – it feels like you’re not in Florida anymore.”

And yet, Merritt Island is also quintessentially Florida, says Vista. “Merritt Island has everything people love about the Florida coast – sunny weather, beautiful beaches and all the water recreation opportunities.”

Adjacent to the Atlantic and located between the Indian and Banana Rivers, this stretch of Florida’s Space Coast, so named for its NASA launches, isn’t actually an island, but rather a long, tapering peninsula.

Much of the region’s charm is due to the unique shape of the peninsula, as the narrowing southern tip cannot support bulky industry or crowded neighborhoods.

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Although life on Merritt Island may move a little slower than in other coastal towns, like West Palm Beach or Miami, locals are happy to keep it that way.

“It’s a sweet life here, it’s almost like the breeze is sweeter,” says Gary Scenti, broker at Dale Sorensen Real Estate. “Once people have moved to the island, they never seem to have a reason to leave.”

Houses in Merritt Island

The Merritt Island market is divided into four areas: North, Central, and South Merritt Island and Merritt Island south of Pineda Causeway, Scenti explains.

“Each region offers a different type of product. The South Tropical Trail, which runs from the center of Merritt Island to the southern tip, is where you’ll find most of the multi-million dollar properties.

Proximity to water has directly influenced designs and styles, with many homes along the South Tropical Trail featuring private docks, outdoor living areas, and large windows for admiring the view.

Perhaps the most coveted homes are those at the narrow end of the peninsula where the land is so thin that the back and front of the property sit on the water.

Large homes are mostly located centrally and inland, where the square footage is large enough to accommodate 7,000 square foot structures.

Real estate prices in Merritt Island

The median sale price for homes on Merritt Island was $400,000 last month, according to data from Realtor.com, a substantial jump from the price just two years ago, when the median stood at $241,200.

Lower prices can be found on the northern end of the island where higher population density and greater square footage means more options for affordable housing, including townhouses and condos.

Mid-priced properties can be single-family homes, often found in central Merritt Island, near but not on the water.

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As the peninsula shrinks, prices increase dramatically. Homes on the river can fetch over $3 million.

The vibe of Merritt Island

Like the waters around it, Merritt Island is a mix of river and ocean lifestyles. With the wide clearance of the Indian River, fishing, kayaking, and jet skiing are readily available.

A large majority of the area is residential with centralized commercial and commercial activity, leaving the island’s coast free of noise and traffic, reinforcing the rustic, tropical aesthetic of the area.

Some of the most popular restaurants can be found along the banks of the river, such as the Island Waterfront Bar and Grill, a local favorite known for its seafood-focused menu and live music.

Schools in Merritt Island

Public education in the area is operated by the Brevard Public Schools District, which serves approximately 74,000 students countywide.

Within the Merritt Island school zoning are two high schools – Merritt Island High School and Edgewood Junior-Senior High School.

Edgewood, located in central Merritt Island, has been repeatedly ranked among the top 100 high schools in the nation by US News & World Report.

Also in town are many private schools, including Merritt Island Christian, Calvary Chapel Christian School, and Brevard Private Academy. Nearby neighboring areas have additional options for private education, both parochial and secular.

Around Merritt Island

About an hour’s drive inland is Orlando and Orlando International Airport.

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Just down the coast are many of Florida’s most popular eastern destinations, including Vero Beach, which is about 60 miles away. Another 100 miles south is West Palm Beach.

Miami is about 200 miles south, or a three-hour drive, of Merritt Island.


Dale Sorensen Real Estate is an exclusive member of Forbes Global Propertiesa consumer marketplace and member network of elite brokerages selling the most luxurious homes in the world.

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