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Steinhatchee to Cayo Costa Island, Florida

Our stay at Steinhatchee was enjoyable  but we need to keep heading south. We continued on to Crystal Rivers, where we stayed for two nights. This town is famous for it's hot springs that attract lots of manatees to the waters here. 

Pete's Pier Marina, a short dingy ride away from a conservation area with hot springs, was good a marina. Manatees seek out the warm water when the weather cools off and are very common in the area. On the first day, we arrived early enough to go for a dinghy ride and went to the spot the marina staff recommended to us.  So cool!  We saw our first manatees in the wild! We couldn't resist and decided to stay the second night so that we would have a chance to go swimming with them. We're really glad we brought our shorty wetsuits, fins, mask & tuba.


Tarpon Springs was our next destination, and we only stayed there one evening. (It's where the GICW starts being more protected, and the landing/staging area for the Gulf crossing)

We are now in more protected waters of the intracoastal waterways. Our planning will hopefully get easier, with more anchorages and interesting sights to see.

We stayed at the Madeira Beach Marina, a short distance to my aunt and uncle who spend their winters here. We're very happy with our choice, we were within walking distance to the beach, groceries, shops and boutiques and the "Trolley".  We had to take a day on the trolley and explore from Clearwater Beach all the way to John's Pass, then we also had to have a beach day! Sunburn and all!!!


The St. Petersburg area has conquered another Canadian couple - we're already talking about "what if we kept our boat here, and came here during winters?" I am sure we will see other great places too, but the added attraction here is "family", and we got to spend time with them too. Boat ride to Caladesi Island State Park Marina, dinghy rides, BBQ and home made pizza. 

Leaving Madeira Beach, we decided to anchor out near Sarasota, behind Lido Key Island. It was a bit strange for us to anchor in some ones "back yard" but it was a really nice and secure location. Some of the property owners wished us a good evening as they "paddle boarded" by us. Dolphins even came in and swam not to far from us.

A while back, fellow loppers told us about Cayo Costa State Park and it's anchorage. We are really glad we decided to stop and check it out.  We ended up staying for two days/nights. The island has a marina for "smaller" boats (we fit because of our narrow beam - we stood out a bit!), a camping, cabins for rent, bike & walking trails... it's great! We biked around half the island on various path conditions (packed dirt, loose sand, roots...) on our folding bikes, and let me tell you - ice cream sandwiches are a great treat after that!

A local gentleman, who's been coming here to fish for years, told us about a small lagoon on the island where we would see manatees - so you guessed it... we had to go and see for ourselves if they were there.  We easily found the spot and slowly made our way in to the lagoon via the narrow creek. There were a lot of manatees there!  I really regret not bringing my phone to take pictures (but in the dinghy....) The water was murky because of the muddy bottom and you only saw them when they rose to the surface - but wow, we could hear them breathing it was so quiet. One of them gave us quite the scare when it surfaces about six inches from our dinghy! These were bigger than those we saw at Crystal River. We rowed over to a second little creek in the lagoon to get a better look at those we saw rising up, but we never made it in very far.  We were so focused on the manatees, that both of us had failed to see the alligator on the edge of the water - looking at us - ready to move! Yikes, I've never seen Papi row so fast in my life!!!! His "Fight or flight" instinct kicked in real quick. Oh... how I wish I'd had my phone to record that! 

We are now in Fort Myers, but I'll write about that in my next post...

Our next stop? We are not sure, we have to make a decision of:
1 - do we boat to the Keys from here, or
2 - do we cross Lake Okeechobee and rent a car to visit the Keys????

Oh my.... what a dilema. 😏

Tina & Papi

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with" 

– Charles Schultz