Tag Archives: river

Anclote Key

Discovery Tour of Anclote River and Anclote Key

Boat Tours of the Anclote River

Odyssy Cuises boatThe river and island boat tour begins with a visit to the ticket booth on locally-famous Dodecanese Blvd, home of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. Lined with fun gift shops, fantastic Greek restaurants, and ridiculously stocked desert shops, Dodecanese Blvd is a perfect place to gather people together for boat tours. The city of Tarpon Springs was founded along the Anclote River, where sponge divers docked their boats. The sponge trade is still alive and thriving today, with a multitude of sponge diving boats docked at the edge of the river. Thanks to the active tourism at the Sponge Docks, a number of cruise companies have made the docks their home as well. Gulf of Mexico tourThe cruises have various themes, some explaining the sponge industry in detail, others putting emphasis on dolphin sightings, sunsets, and local wildlife. Thanks to the gentle currents of the Anclote River, all of the tours are guaranteed to be relaxing. And for scenery, an Anclote River tour cannot be beat.


Anclote River

Anclote River TourThe Anclote River begins far inland, winding through mangrove forests and low lying terrain where no homes are built. The river is fed by run off and by a multitude of springs, creating a constant flow toward the Gulf of Mexico. Rain and spring waters are not the only forces to affect the river, however. The Gulf of Mexico plays it part twice a day as tides rise and fall. According to local boat captains, the tides of the Gulf of Mexico can push up river as much as four miles, which is about a mile beyond the docks themselves. For those who know what to look for, the leading edge of the tide can be spotted as a small wave moving upstream. Anclote Key lighthouseThe width of the Anclote River between the Sponge Docks and the Gulf of Mexico ranges from less than 200 feet to over 1000 feet, making it fairly easy to navigate –or so says a passenger. Boats ply the river constantly, from small speed boats to large fishing and shrimping vessels. The tour boats are among the traffic that use the river, making their way from the docks westward, out to the Gulf of Mexico.


Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico

Ospreys on Anclote RiverWe were invited to ride on the Odyssey Cruises tour boat via local connections, which is to say, a couple of us from the Florida Beach Rentals office live in Tarpon Springs. Odyssey has a large pontoon boat which is perfect for carrying tour groups down the river. They offer multiple themes for their tours, including dolphin sighting, sunset cruises, and trips to Anclote Key, which is an island just off the coast. We pushed off the docks just after noon with the fascinating island of Anclote Key as our destination. The ride down the river was as entertaining as ever, with our tour guide pointing out wildlife and local features of the landscape. Anclote River ParkFlorida is home to some remarkable birds, most of the notable ones being large wading birds, though Ospreys, or fish hawks, are an exception to that rule. The ride down the river was roughly three miles, winding past commercial docks, restaurants, private homes, mangrove islands, and waterfront city parks. At the end of the river, the banks curved away and the mangroves dwindled to reveal the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Our destination was in plain view three miles out, the island of Anclote Key.


Anclote Key

Anclote Key, FLWe landed on the southern tip of Anclote Key, beaching on the region of shifting sands and sandbars. Tidal rivers ran across the island while the soft white sands the region is famous for covered the shores.  Despite being a land form in transition, plants had found purchase on the newly formed spit of land shooting off the southern end of Anclote Key. Seashells on Anclote KeyWe offloaded onto the sands, with several other island-hopping beach-goers already there to greet us. Odyssey Boat Tours gave us a time limit to play on the island and set us free. The passengers scattered, each choosing his or her own direction.  Anclote Key is a three miles long, far too much terrain for us to explore fully, so a search of the immediate area was the next best thing. Shelling on shifting sands of a sandbar was ideal. The tidal rivulets running across the sand made it even better. The shells were easy pickings. The springtime waters were a sparkling turquoise color, and the sand, as always, was as soft as talcum powder. Although we were given ample time to explore, it seemed too soon when the boat horn blew, rounding us up again.


Return to the Sponge Docks

Anclote Key beachOur return trip included a search for dolphins, though we had no luck on that day. It did, however, give us some appreciated extra time on the water. We arrived back at the Sponge Docks happy travelers. The overall tour was quite enjoyable. The boat ride put a number of us in the mood for the excellent deserts available just across the street, although I think some of us might have had that in mind all along. The tour seems a great idea for adding a pair of entertaining hours to the day. With an affordable price tag for this boat tour of the Anclote River, the Gulf of Mexico, and Anclote Key, it is an easy choice for a bonus activity during a vacation outing to Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.


Odyssey Cruises: 727-934-0547 rio@odysseycruises.net


Other posts you might enjoy:

It Is All Greek to Florida

Tarpon Springs Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Dolphin Sighting Tours at Clearwater Beach


Movie star hippopotamus

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

What is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

Florida manateeHomosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is home to a variety of animals native to the state of Florida. The park is home to a many rescued animals, along with its other exhibits. The animals are displayed in open areas which make viewing easy. The park walkways wind among tall trees, providing plenty of shade for Gulf Coast’s warmer days. A bayou extends into the park which is frequented by manatees, one of the park’s main attractions. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park emphasizes natural Florida Manatee at Homosassa Springsand the preservation of native species. It is a worthy stopover on a Gulf Coast vacation, especially for those who want to see manatees, alligators, or other native Florida species. The Homosassa Springs is a great place to spend the afternoon and makes great entertainment for kids.

Where is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

Homosassa Springs boat rideHomosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located seventy miles north of Clearwater Beach. It is south of Crystal River Preserve State Park and north of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Crystal River, Homosassa Springs, and Chassahowitzka are all located on the coastline known as the Nature Coast of Florida. The park is situated on a bayou branching off from the Halls River. You will find the park in the community of Homosassa Springs off of Hwy 19 (Suncoast Blvd), or by taking the alternate route on Fishbowl Drive, which is a very scenic back road. An old sugar mill is nearby on the Fishbowl Drive route, for those interested in history. Homosassa Springs FloridaBoth parking areas leads to the same entrance but the large parking area off of Hwy 19 includes an informative and beautiful boat ride over to the parking area on Fishbowl Dr. We recommend the boat ride, because it starts at an interesting info center and gift shop. Plus, on your ferry to the park entrance, you can see the natural Florida environment and a good number of native animals living in the wild. The address of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is 4150 South Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446.

What to See at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs hippoOur first recommendation for things to do at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the boat ride to the park entrance. If you miss this ride, you’ve cut out a vital part of the complete experience. You will hear plenty of interesting tidbits from the boat captain as you wind down the slow moving water channel. You might also learn some history, such as the names of famous movies filmed in the area, and about the only non-native animal in the park, Lu the hippopotamus, granted official state citizenship so that he could stay in the park after the end of his Hollywood movie career. You will find gift shops at either end of the boat tour.

Homosassa Springs manateeOnce you enter the park, where you go is up to you. The walkways wind in different directions throughout the park, displaying both native plants and animals. Any walk along the waterway should be done with your eyes alert. You will undoubtedly see manatees swimming in the bayou. Even better is the underwater viewing room where you can see schools of fish and any nearby manatees. Your chances of seeing the large marine mammals is very good, because park rangers feed them at regular intervals from above. You might also find a number of manatees inside of pens on the others side of the waterway, recovering from illness or injury suffered in the wild.

Florida pantherThe park is essentially a zoo, displaying Florida’s native species. You will see just about any bird you can imagine, plus some others. A few of the larger species are egrets, bald eagles, owls, and even turkeys. You can also view of deer, black bears, wolves, cougars, bobcats, alligators, and otters.

While the park has a concession stand, it is also a great place for a picnic. You also won’t want to miss the ice cream stand just past Lu the hippo’s pool. Alligator at Homosassa SpringsThe park makes for a great afternoon on a Florida Gulf Coast vacation and is just over an hour from Clearwater Beach, making it a great outing for the day. If you are going to strike out from the beautiful beaches of the Central Gulf Coast, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is one of the best attractions out there.

Other blog posts you might like:

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Places to See Alligators on the Florida Gulf Coast

Top Theme Parks near Clearwater Beach