Tarpon Springs: The Greekiest Greek Town in the world

Tarpon Springs (Pinellas County), Florida has a population of close to 25,000 and is the Greekiest Greek Town in the world outside of Greece. It is a very convenient day trip from Tampa, Orlando, Clearwater, St Pete, Sarasota and Pasco. This small town embodies it motto, ‘When Culture and Fun Collide’ and is a great place to experience the traditional Greek culture and cuisines.

It is also known as the ‘Sponge Capital’ of the world. Tarpon Springs claims to be the only place in the world where living sponge can be found today! And guess what! You can witness sponge diving! Sponge is the second lowest form of life to Amoeba. Sponges are plentiful in this part of the world and are the means of livelihood for the locals. Different forms of sponge can be seen growing under the waters including base sponge, finger sponge etc.

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A Sponge Garden at the House Boat of a Local

Sponge diving is one of the most common livelihood here. The diving suit weighs an astonishing 172 pounds including the metal helmet. Any leakage in the suit can cause 50 gallons of water to fill inside the suit leaving no way for the diver to come back up. The only mode of communication between the boat and the diver is a rope and the bubbles. The number of tugs of the rope (1,2,3), each have a different meaning. Due to such intricacies, sponge diving is proclaimed to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

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Sponge diver displaying the sponge he found during the tour!

Due to its uniqueness, sponges have a huge demand all over the world. In fact, the demand exceeds the supply as not many locals are keen to be sponge divers these days. If you like to buy few sponges, there are many shops here selling the authentic products.

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Touch and feel the fresh sponge to appreciate its uniqueness!

Though there are many tour operators in this area, we did the sponge diving tour with St. Nicholas Boat Line at USD 8.9 per person. I must say, it is one of the best and most effective tours. After a splendid experience of witnessing the sponge diving, we just walked around the area. The streets are full of restaurants and local shops which exemplify Greek culture very well.

We took our lunch at ‘Mama’s Greek Cuisine’ which serves authentic local Greek food with a fine dining experience.

Witnessing the Greek culture, relishing local cuisine and sight of sponge diving made my day!

Have you been to any place that looks so native outside the native country. Share it here. 🙂

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30 Comments Add yours

  1. I watched the old movie “Beneath 12-mile reef” yesterday and this morning found your blog post. So much sponges, such a beautiful place!

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  2. Krystal says:

    What a small world. I went to high school in Tarpon Springs. It is such a great place of culture, food, and things to do. Where are you from originally? It seems like you have quite the world travels – how did you end up in Tarpon Springs?

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  3. Amber NElson says:

    That sounds like an awesome trip. I need to get out more. But I do enjoy living vicariously through others!

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  4. toughcookiemommy says:

    Being able to witness sponge diving really piques my curiosity. It seems like a great destination to visit.

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  5. amandahrosson says:

    What a cool city!! I can’t believe I’ve spent most of my life in Florida yet never been or even heard of this place!

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  6. My husband actually went to school in Taron Springs, they are the Spongers 🙂 and so we have been there a couple of times and I absolutely love it there. It is like stepping into another country. They have the best sponges in the country. Awesome trip.

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  7. KiaNaturally says:

    I had no clue about sponge diving and where sponges come from so this was so insightful. I also love Greek food so hearing about your trip definitely has me craving!

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  8. almostindianwife says:

    This sounds like the trip of a lifetime! I would love to step foot in Greece and check it all out!

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  9. My husband and I are taking two weeks to do a trip across Florida. We will need to stop here!

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  10. This sounds like so much fun! We visited Florida recently and ate a delicious Greek meal in St. Augustine. Isn’t Florida an amazing state to visit?

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  11. I lived in FL for many many years and this is one place I never went! People would talk about how cool it is all the time though!

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  12. Robin Rue says:

    I would love to visit and learn all about sponges. This looks like it was such a great experience!

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  13. Heather says:

    Wow! That looks like a really interesting experience. The sponges seem really cool, especially on the bike!

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  14. Kim says:

    I seriously expected this to be Europe! I love the sponge divers, that’s so interesting. I’d love to visit.

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  15. Kori says:

    That looks absolutely lovely. I’d love to visit there someday. Pictures really do speak a thousand words!

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  16. What a great place! I love how authentic it is and it looks like you had a great time.

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  17. Wendy says:

    I used to live not far from there, but I’ve never been there. It looks like such a great place to visit. Need to check all of this out next time we are down that way.

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  18. Amanda Love says:

    I’ve never seen how sponges are cultivated and it would be nice to experience this first hand! I think it’s a good learning experience even for the kids. I wouldn’t mind joining a tour like this.

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  19. I love this. I have never been to a place that looks like that! It is very unique and native. I love it! I would love to go!

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  20. I’m glad that you had great and fun experienced! That was a wonderful place to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. GlamKaren says:

    Wow – such an interesting story about how sponge diving happens. I really didnt know much about it, no less that it is dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Debra says:

    That looks like so much fun, I love the bicycle covered in sponges – how unique!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. cvnxena says:

    this looks so cool! I love it when two places combine and Greece is a beautiful place to emulate!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wow that was an amazing trip. How beautiful indeed it must of been to visit and WOW to think it’s in the states makes it someday maybe possible!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I love visiting Chinatown in Chicago. You forget you are in the Midwest after a bit! The authentic cuisine is my favorite part.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow what a beautiful place. So much beauty to be seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. annafitfab says:

    What a wonderful experience! I love my facial sponge, I use it to wipe off my masks. That bike covered in sponge looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Esme Sy says:

    What a beautiful place to visit. These sponges are amazing. I would love to go one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It must have been a great and unique experience you had during the trip. I’ve never really been in place that looks so native outside of the native country, The sponges look nice in the water, but a bit scary when they’re stick and hang of something that pull out of the water (the picture of the bike).

    Liked by 1 person

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