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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43 Comments Add yours

  1. Yukti says:

    Very unique place as I haven’t heard of this. Sponges looks so amazing and it is very adventurous to pull out something from water.

  2. What a great little history lesson. Plus Tarpon Sorings sounds like a great family place to visit.

  3. This looks like such a great Greek town. I’ve never been to Tarpon Springs before, but from your post I’d definitely consider it 🙂

    Louise x

  4. How beautiful is Greece & how much harder is it for you to leave the beautiful place! It is definitely on my travel bucket list so I will too take equally amazing pictures one day!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

  5. Vlad Vaida says:

    Are you kidding me!? I LEGIT THOUGHT THIS WAS GREECE HAHAHA!! But then I realized it’s Florida! This is so amazing haha!! A must visit!! And that picture of the bike at the end made me feel some type of way haha

  6. rhianwestbury says:

    I didn’t realize how dangerous sponge diving was. Sounds like such an interesting place x

  7. chei says:

    Oh that looks an amazing trip! Never heard of this tarpon springs and the sponges look so nice. Wish i could visit this someday.

  8. alisonrost says:

    I haven’t heard of Tarpon Spring, but I’ll definitely be telling my husband about it. He finished his diving certification a few years ago and is always looking for a new underwater adventure x

  9. Oh Beehave! says:

    Wow, that looks awesome. Those dive suits are amazing, they look like something from another time. There is a town over in Adelaide (in Australia) that resembles a German town, but I don’t know that its anything like the town you describe (it’s probably the only place I’ve ever been that is a town like another place).

  10. Ana De-Jesus says:

    I never saw sponges as beautiful but seeing them out of the water and draped is quite awe inspiring. I like the sound of Tarpon Springs and how fun that you got to go sponge diving x

  11. Dennis says:

    I just got back from Greece but now i guess i have to go to Florida as well to check this out 🙂 Great blog!

  12. beckigalea says:

    That looks like an awesome place!! Greece is definitely making it in my travel bucket list!

  13. Joanna says:

    I have never been to Greece so I can’t compare, but I can see the town has a “greek feel” due to the white buildings and the boats. Sponge diving sounds like an interesting activity to do, unique to the area. I’ve never heard of anything like it before.

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

  15. 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?

  16. Amber NElson says:

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

  17. toughcookiemommy says:

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. almostindianwife says:

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

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

  23. 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?

  24. 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!

  25. Robin Rue says:

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

  26. Heather says:

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

  27. Kim says:

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

  28. Kori says:

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

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

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

  34. 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.

  35. Debra says:

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

  36. cvnxena says:

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

  37. 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!

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

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

  40. 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!

  41. Esme Sy says:

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

  42. 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).

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