Tarpon Springs Florida home to historic Sponge Docks

During our travels in Florida over the years we have been fortunate to enjoy Tarpon Springs, Florida, a quaint and pretty town north of Clearwater and Tampa on the Gulf. When we were actively engaged in Flea Market business in Central Florida, Tarpon Springs became one of our favorite spots for R&R.

Statue honoring the Greek sponge divers. Note the sponge diving boat tied to the dock.

Tarpon Springs is famous for the Sponge Docks where diving boats still sail to the sponge beds and hard hat divers collect the sponges. This industry began here in Florida in 1905 when John M. Cocoris from Leonidion Greece started the now flourishing sponge business.

Sponge diver in a beautiful tile mosaic

Memorial to the founder of Florida’s Sponge Industry

 

 

 

 

 

Dodecanese Blvd. is the main street that houses multiple shops and businesses. The shops offer everything from fresh tea and spices, hand made cigars, souvenirs, freshly caught fish shops and of course several shops selling sponges collected by the Greek divers.

Locally collected sponges of all sizes for sale

Also of note in Tarpon Springs are the marvelous Greek Restaurants! Talk about authentic Greek cuisine, you’d have to go to Greece to get any cuisine that is more Greek. We have enjoyed several restaurants and bakeries in this wonderful spot on Central Florida’s Gulf Coast.

We have not yet seen any reports of Tarpon Springs suffering damage from Hurricane Ian. We hope that the Sponge Docks and the town were spared.

Hellas Greek Restaurant at Florida’s Tarpon Springs

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery storefronts

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery storefronts

Tarpon Springs, Florida is known for its Greek community founded in both the sponge diving business and restaurants and shops. One of the best restaurants is Hellas Restaurant and the joining Hellas Bakery. The businesses are on the main commercial street in the town, Dodecanese Boulevard.

We really enjoyed our meal at the restaurant. The “flamed” cheese was a real treat, and yes it was served in flames! I had a beef gyro, Sher had a Veggie Pita, and we both shared a huge Greek salad. This restaurant was very comfortable and the staff was delightful. We were there early afternoon when there were few other patrons.

After our meal we went next door to the Hellas Bakery. There were a lot of people in the bakery, but the line moved fairly quickly. Yes, we indulged and picked up some sweet bakery goods for an evening snack back at the RV park.

Delicious Greek Salad

Delicious Greek Salad

Hellas interior

Hellas interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We would highly recommend stopping for a meal at the Hellas Restaurant. Tarpon Springs is about 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg, and is home to the highest percentage population of Greeks in the country. After you eat at Hellas, be sure to check out the Sponge Docks and local Fish Shoppes.