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Anclote River Report
(Craig Park / Tarpon Springs)


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Report By:  ed    Date: 8/30/2008 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 10 photos     Map & Directions: View


Bring your boat, paddle and appetite. Authentic Greek restaurants featuring delicious Gyros, Dolmades and fresh fish are sure to delight your tummy after an easy paddling trip on the Anclote River. For Anne, Wayne and I, it didn't work quite so easily.

My Report:

With category 3 Hurricane Gustav loose in the Gulf this weekend, finding a protected saltwater paddling destination on the west coast of Florida just might prove to be difficult. Thankfully we were doing just that – going paddling vs. packing bags and heading north with tens of thousands of other evacuees like the unfortunate residents of Louisiana and Mississippi.


Offshore islands and most bays, let along open Gulf, were not a possibility due to wave height and action. But the thought of shrimp boats, delicious Greek salads, gyros sandwiches, fancy deserts and Tarpon Springs came to mind. Here we’d be sheltered from the wind and waves as long as we stayed within the confines of the Anclote River that passed along Tarpon Springs’ world famous sponge docks and fishing village.

With a 10am meet-up time and last minute decision on where to launch our kayaks, Anne, her boyfriend Wayne, and I met at Craig Park in Tarpon Springs. The address is 100 Beekman Lane. For boaters, Craig Park has about 10 paved parking spots next to a short concrete boat ramp. Motorboat traffic was steady this Saturday but not bad and we had ample time to launch.

Our trip started off by heading into Spring Bayou (right from boat ramp). After a few minutes of paddling we arrived at a circular shaped pool. Around the pool are several memorials dedicated to those who served the Tarpon Springs community. Spring Bayou is also the place where the Greek Epiphany Celebration is held each year at the beginning of January. As part of the festivities a Bishop from the Greek Orthodox Church throws a cross in the waters of Spring Bayou and young men swim after it. Recovering the cross is said to bring good luck in the new year.

After shooting a few photos we paddled back toward the ramp. Wayne wasn’t feeling good and cut his trip short. Anne and I agreed we’d only go to the Alt-19 bridge and return promptly to check on Wayne.

To find the Anclote River and sponge docks, go straight from the boat ramp across the bayou. A channel on the left side will quickly take you under the Riverside Drive bridge. Looking north from here you can spot a wide cut through the mangroves. The Anclote River lies just on the other side.

Also found on the other side of the mangroves are two 70-foot shrimp boats, badly damaged and barely upright. Leaning against one another they are hopelessly stuck in the muddy bottom of the Anclote River. I did a little research after coming home and found out the boats, Sundowner and Norther, were badly damaged during Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina when they were docked in Key West. The owner had them towed back to Tarpon Springs where they were abandoned due to cost of repairs. A smaller boat lies sunk just to the right of the Sundowner.

Anne and I both clicked away, taking photos of the two boats. It was even possible to paddle into the third smaller boat or park your kayak on its deck for some more unusual photos. Next we continued up river to the sponge docks. Many tourists were wandering the streets and others getting ready to watch a sponge diver recover some of the bottom filter feeders that made Tarpon Springs famous.

The tide was coming in and water being pushed up river so the trip up was actually easier than returning. There is no obvious place to land a canoe or kayak along the sponge docks, but we did notice a sit-on-top tied up behind one of the local restaurants.

Anne and I paddled just beyond the Alt-19 bridge that goes over Anclote River. With Wayne in mind, we cut the trip short and returned to Craig Park. Total trip was about 3.5 miles, including our meandering. With boats loaded, Anne and Wayne headed home. And me? Well, the Greek food in Tarpon Springs is delicious!

Get Map & Directions for this trip


Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: Saltwater
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): 3.5
Fees/Costs $: Free


Photos from Craig Park / Tarpon Springs:    (Click image to view full size)

Craig Park No Comm
Craig Park

Palm lined sidewalks and beautiful waterways of Spring Bayou / Craig Park in Tarpon Springs.

Spring Bayou No Comm
Spring Bayou

Anne and Wayne at Spring Bayou.

Shrimp Boats No Comm
Shrimp Boats

The Norther and Sundowner Shrimp Boats near the mouth of the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs.

Norther / Sundowner No Comm
Norther / Sundowner

Two 70 foot shrimpers sunk in Anclote River. A third unknown boat on the right side.

View from inside No Comm
View from inside

Here's a pic of Anne from inside the third boat. Notice I paddled into the boat?

Tarpon Springs Fleet No Comm
Tarpon Springs Fleet

Tarpon Springs is known for its shrimping, sponge and fishing fleets. A few boats near the Sponge Docks.

Tourist Boats No Comm
Tourist Boats

Tarpon Springs is also know for its tourist boats. This one goes about 1 mile downriver and does a sponge diver show.

The Big Cat No Comm
The Big Cat

If you have to get run over by a boat, make it a big cat!

Sponge Docks No Comm
Sponge Docks

If you have to ask why they call it the sponge docks, these were just being unloaded.

Hellas Restaurant No Comm
Hellas Restaurant

My favorite place to eat in Tarpon Springs.



Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsVoted as 'Best of the Bay Greek food' and 'Where locals eat', Hellas Restaurant in Tarpon Springs should be on your short list of great places to chow down after paddling the Anclote River. My favorite? Small Greek Salad, Gyro and Baklava.



Post Date: 8/31/2008

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