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Homosassa, Florida, Explore “River of the Fishes”

Homosassa, Florida, A Nature Lover’s Wishes, the Seminole Indians named it: “The River of Fishes.“

My latest travelogue takes me and two fishing friends, Keith K and Brad F, to a location that is not typically on anyone’s Florida vacation destination list. However, if you’re a nature lover, I highly recommend exploring Homosassa, Florida, less than 2 hours north by car from Tampa Airport and approximately 2 hours from Orlando International Airport.

We had the good fortune of being able to breeze over from Orlando to Homosassa in a vintage 1986 model 345 Airstream.

Vintage 1986 model 345 Airstream, Photo Credit: John Kaiser

Homosassa lies on the west coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, just on the south end of the big bend of Florida.

Most tourists who come to Central Florida and go to the theme parks might decide to go to one of Florida‘s beaches. On the East Coast reside some of the more well-known beaches, including Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach, a bit further North and a local favorite. Orlando and Disney World are closer to the East Coast, especially if you take the Beach Line, also known as Highway 528. The West Coast can be reached by departing from the north exit of Disney World. A word of advice: avoid I-4 traffic between downtown Orlando and U.S. Highway 27, either direction, if at all possible.

So, here is the deal and recommended places to stay.

Along the West Coast, you will be mesmerized by beautiful sunset views and some of the top 10 white sand beaches in the United States, such as Siesta key.

Sarasota offers stylish accommodations that connect with local art and culture, while nearby St. Pete Beach is home to the historic Don Cesar Hotel, which I would rank right up there with my experience at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach.

Most do not look much further north than Clearwater Beach and touristy.

Homosassa on the other hand, is definitely off the beaten track and a throwback in time. Our primary objective was to encounter beautiful natural tranquility and to do some fishing.

Do not expect a Ritz Carlton here. Your best bet is probably an Airbnb.

We stayed at the Camp and Water RV Park. Very tidy and clean, and they also offer boat slips. 

Homosassa Springs Boat Tour. Photo Credit: John Kaiser

At the top of the list, of course, is the Homosassa Springs boat tour. Along the river are many bar/ restaurants with beautiful views, including Crumps. They also have live music.

Sign for Manatee Pub, Homosassa, Florida. Photo Credit: John Kaiser

If you want to experience an old-school throwback bar, then your choice would be the Manatee Pub. Most places closed down by 9 PM; however, the Old Mill Run Tavern stays open until 2 AM.

Travel writer John Kaiser, Homosassa, Florida

Another highlight is Monkey Island. There is a restaurant and bar and motel-style rooms for rent. Based on the below sign, even monkeys go on vacation. I don’t know,..maybe Disney World 🙂

Monkey Island, Photo Credit: John Kaiser

At one of our stops, Brad F asked for a mojito and the reply was simply, “We don’t do those here. This is the old Homosassa.”

Fishing conditions were tough when we were there. Temperatures in the 50s and 15 mph knots. We only caught two redfish. Complements to Capt. Keith K. He did his darndest.

Here is some advice and insights. All the locations mentioned are reachable by vehicle.

Do NOT attempt to rent a motorized boat unless you have the latest LOWRANCE GPS with the mapping system for this river. You WILL get lost and you WILL run aground. The best bet if you want to go fishing is to hire a local guide.

There is always the option to rent a kayak and explore nature and tranquility on upriver waters on your own. You’re bound to see manatees and dolphins.

John Kaiser authored this post.

Travel writer John Kaiser on the water in Homosassa, Florida








Read other posts by travel writer John Kaiser:

Bermuda, an Island within Reach

Exploring the Scottish Highlands, From Family Roots to Fly Fishing

Recommended resources for planning your trip to Homosassa, Florida


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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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