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Juan Ponce de Leon Landing Park

4005 Highway A1A
Melbourne Beach, FL 32951
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This 25.57-acre regional beach park features 2 beach crossovers, a small pavilion, restrooms, and parking. The park commemorates the epic 1513 voyage of Ponce de Leon and his landing on the shore of Florida on April 2 near the site of the park. Ponce de Leon’s 7,980 nautical mile exploration into unknown waters set the stage for the subsequent European colonization of the USA.

Juan Ponce de León, c.1460-1521, Spanish explorer, was the first Westerner to reach Florida. In 1493 he accompanied Columbus on his second voyage to America. From 1502 to 1504 he assisted in the conquest of Higuey (now the Dominican Republic) and was made governor of that province. After finding gold on Boriquén (Puerto Rico) in 1508, he conquered the island and was governor from 1509 to 1512. Hearing tales from the Carib of a wonderfully rich island called Bimini, said to be north of Cuba, Ponce de León secured a commission (1512) to conquer and colonize that land. A legend developed that he was seeking a spring with waters having the power of restoring youth. From Puerto Rico on March 3, 1513, with three vessels, he sailed north east through the Bahamas, sighting the Florida peninsula (which he took to be an island) late in March and landing at the Melbourne Beach site on April 2nd. Probably because his arrival in Florida occurred at the time of the Easter feast (Pascua Florida), Ponce de León named the land (which he claimed for Spain) La Florida. He turned south, and landed in what is now Brevard County while exploring the coast to Key West and up the west coast as far as Cape Romano.