A Boat Tour to Anclote Island
Before the days of Disney, Tarpon Springs Sponge docks was one of Florida’s largest tourist destinations. This Greek cluster of shops may seem tired, but it is truly a hidden gem in Florida’s heart. People from all over the US come to visit the small Greek community found in Tarpon Springs. Visiting the Greek isles should be on everyone’s bucket list. If walking down the strip of restaurants and souvenir shops isn’t for you, then luckily, there are tickets to visit one of Florida’s most remote state parks: Anclote Key State Park.
Located just three miles off the shore, this state park is made up of four small islands. Covered in white sand and crystal blue waters, this park is breathtaking. This island is home to an 1887 lighthouse that houses a single park ranger. Odyssey Cruises runs tours from the sponge docks to the park and offers various other shorter tours. The boat tour is an excellent opportunity to hear a little bit about Tarpon Springs history, get a great view of the Gulf, and even have the opportunity to spot some dolphins.
During this tour, you’ll also get a brief opportunity to explore the island. During the shortstop, guests are allowed to walk around the white beaches and dip their toes in the water. The only thing the tour does not include is a visit to the lighthouse. Twice a year, the operation gives guests a chance to tour the lighthouse, and even climb the 140 step spiral staircase to the top! Along the tour, get the chance to spot historic buildings and working fishing boats.
Our tour makes a few stops around the islands. Docking on a sandbar, guests have 30 minutes to walk around in the water, collect some cool shells, and even find a sand dollar or two. If you’re lucky enough to own a boat, Anclote Key State Park is open to the public. Enjoy lunch by the water at one of the hidden picnic pavilions, or catch some rays on the white sand shore. There’s even a camping site, where guests can spend the night on the island and wake up to a dazzling sunrise on the Gulf.
If you don’t own a boat, there are still a few ways to be able to visit the island and get to spend a little more time than allotted on the boat tour. It’s 3 miles of open water from the Sponge Docks to the island, so only the more experienced kayakers should take this venture. Jet skiing in the isle is also an excellent option for spending more free time at Anclote State park. However you decide to reach Anclote island, just know that you couldn’t be visiting a more serene and memorable location.