Tarpon Springs, a quaint Gulf Coast community located 40 min north of Tampa, draws tourists from all over for its’ rich Greek history, sponge docks, and beautiful low-key beaches. In the 1900’s, Greek sponge divers settled the area, leading to its’ current nickname of “the sponge capital of the world.” Spongeorama, established in 1968, claims to offer the “Worlds largest selection of natural sea sponges.” Natural sponges contain enzymes which protect against the formation of bacteria and mold.
Visiting Tarpon will give you the unique opportunity to enjoy authentic Greek fare, tour the sponge docks, and browse through many gift shops specializing in natural sponges.
Sponges aside, a cruise down the Anclote River to secluded Anclote Island is the must-do here in Tarpon. This pristine island is located about 3 miles from Tarpon and accessible only via boat. The best tour is Odyssey’s dolphin/adventure cruise. Fortunately, you are guaranteed to see at least one dolphin, so no one will leave dissapointed. However, you will likely see many more and perhaps a manatee or sea turtle as well if you get lucky!
Relaxing and enjoy the scenery!
Along with plenty of marine life sightseeing, you will also learn more about the history of the sponge industry. Your tour guide is super knowledgeable about the area in general and more than willing to provide you with restaurant or activity recommendations. In between learning about the region, you can kick back and relax, enjoy fun tunes & optional drinks, and take in the fresh breeze.
Lots of dolphin sightings!
Anclote Island, a remote shelling oasis
After a breezy 30-40 minute ride enjoying the beautiful scenery, you will arrive at Anclote Island. Spend the next half hour or so shelling, while taking in the sights and sounds of beautiful uninterrupted Florida nature. It’s not the best beach for swimming, although the shelling is fantastic. Take a few pics, watch the shorebirds, collect shells, toss off your sandals and enjoy a walk – simply bask in the sun before heading back on the boat. Conveniently, you will be given a bag to collect & take home your treasures.
A few scenic vistas from the beach!
At just under 20 bucks a person, this 2 hour cruise is definitely one of the better values in Tampa Bay. Anyone who loves the water, dolphins, shelling, and/or Greek history, is sure to be pleased.
More to do in Tarpon
Compliment your day out with a little shopping and lunch at one of the fabulous Greek eateries lining the waterfront.
Greek Food Oasis
Greek salads are the best! You cannot leave Tarpon without treating yourself to a wonderful Greek salad. Hellas, although not quite the best Greek place in town, is really popular and conveniently located right across the street. Try the spanakopita and do not hesitate to select a dessert from the massive bakery!
- Location: The cruise departs at 776 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
- Parking: There is a $5 parking fee which is good all day
- Pricing: $19 adults, $18 seniors/military, $10 child (under 2 free)
- Book online to ensure your spot
- Things to know: Yes, there is a bathroom on board. Beer and wine available for purchase. Yes, you can bring snacks.
- Other must-do’s in the area: Greek restaurants, Pinellas trail bike path, Fred Howard Park (gorgeous beach), A.L. Anderson Park, Replay Amusements (pinball arcade)