Tarpon Springs, Florida is our favorite place to visit in the winter time. Its history goes back to the days of sponge fishing on the Gulf of Mexico and the early Greek fisherman who introduced the use of the diving suit when fishing for sponges. Today, Tarpon Springs has been kept as a part of “old Florida” without high rise condos or huge amusement parks. It’s a place where families from the north come to enjoy the sights and sounds of the many Greek restaurants along the Anclote River and perhaps take a boat ride or paddle your own kayak to see the many bayous which drain the fresh water from the Anclote Springs to Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a place salt water mixes with fresh water, frozen northerners mix with Greek families, and birds, fish, and manatees come to enjoy the sun and peacefulness of old Florida. Every time we visit Tarpon Springs, we head for Dimitris’s on the Sponge Docks for some Greek salad and a bottle or two of Blue Island Greek beer. You can have a table right out along the Anclote River and take in all of the activities along the river.
Jeanette always looks for the antique fishing boat St. Nicholas VII which takes people out on the River and has a real diver on board who goes overboard to bring up a sponge of two from the river. She discovered that the sponges were really tied to the bottom of the boat as the Anclote River has long been “fished out” of natural sponges.
But fishing for sponges has been a part of the history of Tarpon Springs and was its main commercial attraction around 1920. Now the city caters to visitors who crave a relaxing vacation, excellent seafood, and some warm sun along the Gulf. Commercial fishing is still a part of Tarpon Springs and if one goes behind Rusty Bellies Restaurant, you can see their own commercial fishing boat and well as some other commercial fishing boats from along the eastern waters of the Carolinas.