Visiting Tarpon Springs, Florida – home of the sponge and one of the largest communities of Greek Americans!
TARPON SPRINGS, Florida
If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I recommend making a day trip to Tarpon Springs; well you really just need an afternoon.
Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any other US city. The first Greek immigrants arrived in the 1880’s where they were recruited for sponge diving. The red tide of 1947 wiped out many of the sponge fields and divers had to turn to fishing. The sponge industry made a comeback in 2007 and the main street by the water has shops, and small museums that are quaint and yet full of information about the trade.
For what sponges to buy while in Tarpon Springs… I suggest buying a handful of silk sponges, which are very small and useful for applying or removing makeup. Make sure to get a few wool sea sponges, which are the highest quality and the most durable. I bought a wool sponge to wash dishes with and I am still using it 6 months later! Plus the sponges do not get moldy, harbor bacteria, or develop an odor, all of which are a great plus! Also you will find an array of goats milk and olive oil soaps.
If you like dessert and appreciate strong coffee, you can sit in one of the Tarpon Springs cafes and feel like you are in Greece because the staff and locals are all speaking Greek! It is great fun!
Fun Sighting in Tarpon Springs, Florida:
While in Tarpon Springs I saw the best vanity license plate! The license plate stated: “American by birth, Greek by the grace of God.”
I think that statement sums up the quirky charm of the sponge town of Tarpon Springs, Florida.