At the top of Pinellas County sits Tarpon Springs. Originally settled in 1876, it wasn’t until 1905, when John Corcoris recruited sponge divers from Greece to move here that the sponge industry took off and the town became the largest Greek community in the US.
Still a thriving area for sponge harvesting, you can’t walk 10 feet without seeing something for sale that has to do with Greek heritage or sponges.
There are also several boat tours you can catch from Tarpon Springs, ranging from dolphin excursions, shell diving and even some sponge diving. There’s something for every water lover.
The stores we walked into were filled with Greek music and friendly shop keepers. This time of year is a slow season, between summer breaks and ‘snowbird’ season, so we practically had the shops to ourselves. There was also the smell of Greek food wafting down the street from different vendors. And if you ask shop keeper the best place to go to eat, they’ll know. The shop keeper at Lori’s Soaps and Sponges, recommended Mama’s. We were more on the look out for beach cover up and soaps with sponges embedded in them. Which we were able to stock up on easily.
You’ll also notice that while it is a Florida town, there’s plenty of Greek influence to be seen.
Tarpon Springs is a lovely little town on the Florida West Coast and is worth a day’s visit.