Tarpon Springs, Florida is a fascinating place. It’s a little intercoastal town full of Greek goodies, sponges, history and so much more, and it’s only a short distance away from Tampa.
If you ever find yourself west of Tampa, be sure to stop at Tarpon Springs, but don’t forget to book a sunset shelling cruise to really complete your evening of adventure.
Though, perhaps I am biased. It’s actually become a yearly tradition to go with my boyfriend to celebrate our anniversary and first date, which was this exact cruise.
But regardless, the blog must go on.
This was actually my third time taking an Odyssey Cruise, we booked it only a day in advance and I was pretty surprised to see they had availability with such short notice.
There are many other cruises out of the town to choose from, but I have always had such a great experience with this particular company that I don’t see a reason to do business elsewhere.
The boat left promptly at 6:30p.m., and sunset was scheduled for 8:20p.m., so that gave us over two hours on the boat. Tickets were a mere $22 per person; well worth the price if you ask me.
The captain and tour guide were extremely friendly as they welcomed all aboard after thoroughly disinfecting the boat from the previous sailers.
The captain called me “sis” and my boyfriend “brother,” which I thought was pretty adorable. It made me feel like we were part of his sailing family for the next few hours.
The tour guide is there to make everyone laugh, and he does a damn good job at it.
From cracking dad jokes to serving your on-boat alcohol, this guy was definitely the life of the tour. He told us some trivia, history about the town, and of course all of the safety instructions.
“Life jackets here, kids over there. If you go overboard, don’t do it, we will all be here with the coastguard for the next 8 hours answering questions. Not just me, all of us. So don’t.go.overboard,” the crowd giggled. Thankfully no one threw themselves overboard.
The boat surprisingly got up to a pretty good speed, and despite how hot it is here in mid-July, between the lowering sun and cruising breeze it was a very pleasant ride. The weather on this particular day did cooperate, however, anyone who is familiar with Florida knows that this is not always the case, so it was a nice surprise.
My favorite part of the tour is not just the sunset, but also that it takes you to a local island, Anclote Key, to collect shells.
It was roughly a half-hour ride to the island (we stopped to watch a pod of dolphins along the way), giving us an hour to shell before we had to reload for the sunset.
(Here’s some footage I got of the dolphins.)
I found some seriously amazing shells as usual, even a sizable conch. Honestly, if you find a couple really nice shells the trip kind of pays for itself, considering tourist shops sell some shells (say that 5 times fast) for well over $20.
Yikes. Do I sound like a salesperson yet? Maybe I’m in the wrong business.
If you’re the type to put “I lOvE lOnG wAlKs On ThE BeAcH” in your Tinder bio then you wouldn’t find anything more romantic than walking on this deserted island off the Gulf coast.
Well, okay, so I have to be honest. If you go into the muddy inland areas it does stink a little from the washed-up seaweed. But that’s a small price to pay for such an enchanting experience (and like, every Florida beach has stinky seaweed so if that’s something that scares you then you probably don’t actually like long romantic beach walks). If you stay along the coast then odd smells shouldn’t bother you too much.
True to the Gulf, the water was warm and blue, the waves were small, and the shells were ripe for picking. There was even a dolphin swimming only about 20 feet away from the coast.
My wonderful boyfriend snapped some great photos of me for this blog post, so this location definitely doubles as an amazing photo-op spot for anyone interested. The location is nothing short of picturesque.
It seemed like an hour on the island truly flew by, and we were loaded back onto the boat just before the sun started setting. Thankfully so, since the no-see-ums started to show up right on time too.
The captain took the boat a little ways away from the island so we could watch the sun go down. He said it was the best sunset of the week that he’s seen; and it was truly stunning.
The cloud arrangement was spectacular and the colors were magnificent, to the point that photos simply don’t do it justice.
The horizon became more and more beautiful as we sailed back to town, passing the island lighthouse on the way.
The farther the sun went down the more the sky started to look like cotton candy.
Until it finally turned into a horizon of rainbow colors.
As the tour came to a close the guide gave us plastic bags for our shells as we returned the netted bags (you could buy them if you wanted for a couple dollars, but I already had one.)
By the time we docked there was no light left in the sky and everyone was ready to go home to rediscover the shells they had plucked from the shore.
The guide reminded all on the boat that he and the captain work for tips only, and they’ve always done such a great job so we gave them a generous tip for their hard work and away we went into the night.
Another successful, romantic island getaway for those craving an affordable date night adventure near Tampa.
If you want to book your own cruise, you can through there site here.