Take a ride on the wild side on a boat tour of the Homosassa River
HOMOSASSA, Fla. - The town of Homosassa may be small, but it has a lot to offer and tourists come from all over the globe to enjoy it.
The Homosassa River is 7.7 miles of adventure in Western Citrus County that flows out to the Gulf of Mexico.
"This river is not for the faint of heart," stated Todd Duval, who is known as the ‘Homosassa Jesus’.
Duval has been maneuvering these waterways for years, and he does it on a daily basis with working at The Freedom Boat Club.
The sugar mill is not on the water, but Duval says it is the reason Homosassa got put on the map.
"Back in the early 1900s they had sugar canes planted throughout this entire area, which jump-started the economy as well as commercial fishing. Without the sugar mill and the thousands of slaves that were used, this place would not be the way it is," Duval said.
An osprey nest sits atop a channel marker in the Homosassa River.
Traveling down the river, Duval encourages people to look out for each channel marker because many have osprey nests on top.
"We have a lot of ospreys that like to hang out either in a really tall palm tree, but mainly on these channel markers."
Monkeys also call the river home. Monkey Island is where Duval says all the rambunctious monkeys are kept.
"There are only three on there currently. There used to be six, but they died over the years," Duval shared.
A monkey sits on Monkey Island in the Homosassa River.
The monkeys on the island were originally re-homed to the Ellie Schiller Wildlife Park in Homosassa, but they were causing a lot of trouble like stealing candy and breaking into cars. Duval says they were also causing problems with the other animals on the property.
"Monkey Island is surrounded by rocks that are submerged under the water at high tide, so we had someone come out here and build up the island," Duval said. They’re like you’ve got these monkeys with nowhere to put them and decided that right here would be perfect. Now people come from all over the place to see Monkey Island at Homosassa."
READ: Monkey Island in Homosassa is getting a major overhaul in 2022
Along the river, lies Homosassa Springs, which is known for its crystal clear water, giving boaters an opportunity to see wildlife under the water.
Snorkeler shows off a scallop found in the Homosassa River.
The river has a very high manatee and dolphin population. Plus, there are scallops. Duval says scalloping season is the busiest time of year along the river.
"It brings people from all over the place to our little town to go out on an underwater Easter egg hunt, attempting to find themselves the best dinner they could ever eat," Duval shared.
Scalloping season along the river runs from July 1- September 24.