If you are planning a Florida vacation, why not visit one of the last places in Florida that holds itself true to the way it was found many years ago? It is a place where moss still hangs from trees that are older than time itself. It is a place where wildlife still call home, not because of the pens that hold them, but because they feel at home in the area. An environment that mixes modern with a history that will astound you. Just look to see all that Homosassa has to offer you.
Homosassa is a little town in Citrus County, Florida in an area that is dubbed by those who love it as the “Nature Cost” for its outstanding history and dedication of those who call it home and preserve its special history. Keep in mind, however, the simple fact that “nature coast” includes Homosassa and all of its surrounding areas.
It is located on the gulf coast, about 73 miles north of Tampa. Citrus County covers 15 different areas including Crystal River, Floral City, Citrus Springs, Beverly Hills, Hernando, Inverness, Homosassa, Homosassa Springs, Pine Ridge, and Sugarmill Woods, to name a few. However, from almost every part of Homosassa, you are within two hour’s travel time of some of Florida’s major cities. These big cities include Orlando, Ocala, Clearwater and Tampa, which makes it ideal for people who want peaceful vacation time as well as the hustle and bustle of bigger cities to be nearby.
If you are worried about how you will get to Homosassa, never fear. There are a few airports within easy driving distance. The nearest major airport you will want to consider is the Tampa International Airport. However, Ocala and Crystal River both have smaller airports for you to consider as well.
Homosassa is an area that is rich with history. Through it, you can explore what Florida may have been like back when the Seminoles lived on the land and called it “Pepper Ridge” or “River of Fish”. The first plantation was established in 1851 by David Levy Yulee and it is thanks to him building the mills that Homosassa now cherish as ruins.
In nature, the area people call, “Old Homosassa” there is proof that Citrus County as a whole was occupied up to 12,000 years before the Spanish arrived to explore it. There are animals, fossils, and other things scattered all around that give indication of a history that started when the aboriginals were the only people around.
It also holds more wildlife than most people could imagine. Both sea creatures and land animals call it home. Some are only seasonal visitors, while others call the area home year round. There are enough birds near to delight bird lovers, there are many manatees that, at the very least, make it their winter home, and so much more to see and do. Perhaps this is all reasons for it to be called a huge part of the nature coast area.
In Homosassa, you will not find the major attractions that other larger cities have. However, that does not mean that people, both young and old, will not enjoy their visit to Homosassa and the surrounding areas. In most cases, becoming one with the world around you is an attraction greater than all others. In this area of Florida, you will become one with nature in ways that you never imagined possible before. Simply check out the ways Homosassa and Crystal River allow you to experience the best that nature has to offer.
Monkey Island began as a mound of rocks in the middle of the Homosassa River. It was a hazard to boaters at all times, especially during high water if they did not know it was there. To lessen the risk to boaters, it was turned into an island; complete with trees, grass, rocks, and even monkeys. If you have never been able to watch a monkey play in a habitat that was created for him, you have not seen one of the most comical nature shows. Here, you will have the chance to watch a family of spider monkeys go about their day of playing and caring for one another.
Admittedly, people can fish anywhere in the world as long as there is a body of water and fish inside of it. But, on the nature coast, you will be able to experience a fishing trip that tops all others. At any time over the course of your fishing trip, you may be able to see the fish swimming naturally beneath your boat. This is because of the springs nearby that push clear waters into the rivers around Crystal River and Homosassa. The water is also shallower than you may normally find in other areas. In many cases, you may go ten miles off shore and still only be in 10 feet of water.
You may see manatee swimming, dolphins jumping, and jelly fish floating by. You may catch fish that include mackerel, tarpon, cobia, reds and trout. If you go further out into the Gulf of Mexico, you will find snappers, grouper, and even an occasional shark. Can you imagine fishing for this type of fish while watching from above to see whether they bite or not? There are areas on the gulf coast where you can do just that. Imagine being above a school of fish and watching twenty fish duck and dodge around your bait, but one who is curious and decides to take a bite.
If you have never been on an air boat, you have not truly lived. These boats are a great way to get into the natural areas along the coast of Florida, where some waters are so shallow, it is dangerous for a normal, motorized boat to go. These boats can travel over marshy areas where other boats would become trapped. By doing this, they allow people to get into areas that most will never get to see. These areas are completely untouched by human hands and you may find yourself very surprised by how many exciting things you will see. Not to mention, you will feel a new type of thrill, just by climbing on board and gliding over the water.
To make it easier for people to experience, there are charter air boats all along the coastal area. Most charge only a small fee and they will take you out into the water to explore for an hour or two. They will stop along key areas of their trip, those areas where you may see manatee swimming or monkeys playing, birds singing, and other wildlife simply living their life. You will be able to take pictures of the coastal area and then share the memories of your trip with those you love.
Kayaking in Homosassa
Some people prefer a more laid back approach to their exploration of the coastal waters. For those people, kayaking may be a better option. One of the most popular areas is the Three Sisters Springs because it offers a coastal view that is unmatched by other areas. You will also be able to see the springs that give it its name, which means that you will have the chance to see both marine and land animals steadily throughout your trip.
At certain times throughout the year, you will be able to see even manatee floating along with you while you are in your kayak. In fact, the chances of this happening are so high that this spring is also one of the most popular places for people to go if they wish to swim with manatees. Can you imagine a better way to become a part of the nature coast?
View the Manatee
Each year, there are approximately 400 manatees that call the nature coast area of Homosassa and Crystal River home. Of them, there are some that call it their winter home and others who live there year round. The reason so many manatees hang out in these areas is simple. They have access to food because of the shallow waters and they are able to enjoy a year round water temperature of 72 degrees which is ideal for them.
Manatees are also protected in this area of Florida. Boaters are cautioned of the fact that manatee are present and they can take precautions. No one hunts the manatee that lives here. This is helping the manatee stay off the endangered list, a true feat because of the fact that they are slow moving, “sea cows” and also gives more people the chance to learn more about this amazing animal.
There are also educational aspects of their protection. During the peak of manatee season, you can swim with them or visit the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park and learn about them through shows and even an underwater viewing area. It is all in an effort to educate people on how amazing these gentle giants are.
Another preferred way to spend time experiencing the nature of the nature coast is by scalloping in the Homosassa and Crystal River area. However, this was an experience that Florida visitors and residents nearly lost. Back in the early 90s, it was such a popular activity for people that the scallops virtually disappeared from the coastal waters of Homosassa and Crystal Rivers. The state closed down scallop hunting for a few years and now, they have regulations set in place to ensure it does not happen again.
To help scallop hunters, both new and experienced, there are guides all along the coast who can tell you about scalloping. They can take you to the best places and show you how to capture the scallops. While you are catching scallops, you will also be in the water with other fish so that you can enjoy your adventure, long after you have reached the maximum amount of scallops you can catch.
From there, you will be able to clean your scallops and prepare them to eat. This is also great because scallops are one of the healthiest foods you will ever sink your teeth into according to most people. It is a visit with nature that will benefit you in a variety of ways.
The Simple Exploration of History
Homosassa and many other areas around the nature coast, all have been touched by a history that most cannot imagine. There are the Sugarmill Ruins, which was destroyed during the Civil War. There is the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, where you will be able to see pieces of history and learn about the animals. You will also be able to see paintings that were created by Winslow Homer, whose paintings were based on the things he saw in that area.
Other points of interest may include standing in the area where the Crocodile Hunter once visited, where Piers Anthony wrote, where Grover Cleveland fished, Jacques Cousteau dived, and Dazzy Vance hunted. If you visit the Citrus County Courthouse in Inverness, you will also be able to stand where the late Elvis Presley starred in his 9th film, “Follow That Dream”.
By going to Homosassa and exploring the nature coast, you will be visiting an area that people have visited in the past. Perhaps it is the people that you thought were great. At the end of your visit, you will have become a part of history by seeing where so many others have lived, laughed, and played their heart out.
Are You Ready?
Are you ready to explore all that Homosassa has to offer? Planning your next vacation is going to be easy. Trying to do everything you want to do while you are there, may be slightly more difficult. Just remember, when you are planning your vacation, in Florida and the Nature Coast area, everything has a season. Which season will be your favorite time to come and explore the world around you?