Anclote Key Preserve State Park - Orlando / Florida Guide
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It was some years ago that after spending some time in the Gulf Coast resorts of Sarasota and St Petersburg we came across the charming little town of Tarpon Springs with its unmistakable Greek influence. Situated just north on Clearwater off SR19 Tarpon Springs is famous for its sponge industry and you can get a good feel for its recent history by visiting the free museum which is situated on the waterfront called, very originally, ‘Spongerama’
On that first visit we chose to take one of the many boat tours being touted along the quayside, all of which sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico. A diver would then harvest a number of sponges from the seabed, much to the delight of the paying tourists.
To reach the Gulf we had sailed down the picturesque Anclote River passing Meyer’s Cove on our way to the open sea. Out to our left was an intriguing strip of land and sandy shoreline, which we found out from the ship’s captain, was Anclote Key Preserve State Park.
Although time constraints precluded a visit on that occasion we resolved to go back at a later date to explore. So last year, armed with supplies, binoculars and swimwear, we went back to Tarpon Springs and chartered a small boat out to the State Park (which, by the way, is the only way to get there).
The warm Gulf waters lap gently along the Preserve’s beautiful stretch of beach and visitors are free to swim and sunbathe at their leisure. We also saw groups of children hunting for shells in the white sand.
For the ‘twitchers’ amongst you, the Preserve is also home to over 40 species of birds, which include the bald eagle and piping plover as well as a variety of other shorebirds.
A short walk to the southern tip of the Key brings you to the Anclote Key Lighthouse. After many years in disrepair due to neglect and wanton vandalism, this historic monument built in 1887 has been fully restored, and although its original light was beyond repair the new beacon serves as a reminder of its former glory.
In the early evening we were able to enjoy the delights of an outdoor barbeque with some friends on the grills provided free of charge, by the Preserve
By the time our charter boat returned to collect us it was almost dusk and what better way to end a perfect day than to watch to sun go down over the Gulf of Mexico.
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