View of the Villa from the waterway
Real Estate agents say the three most important aspects determining property values are location, location and location. If this is the case then this villa must be nearly priceless. Whilst the villa itself is luxuriously appointed with everything that could be needed for a perfect vacation, it is the breathtaking view from the florida room which makes it so special, even for Crystal River.
In our experience Crystal River is unique, being the commercial center for the surrounding area, it has a wide selection of restaurants and shopping but still retains the small town atmosphere and southern hospitality. However it's uniqueness is due to its position, being situated on the glorious Kings Bay and it is rightly named the Jewel of the Nature Coast of Florida.
Front view of the Villa
We chose our Villa for a number of reasons, it is in Palm Springs which is our favorite neighborhood and is surrounded back and front by Florida wetlands which have been designated bird and animal sanctuaries so can never be developed. However the principal reason for choosing the villa is its location on a beautiful natural spring-fed waterway which leads directly into Kings Bay. Palm Springs is at the southern end of Kings Bay where the manatee reside in largest numbers.
View from the yard
Since the new Suncoast Parkway (which leads directly to Tampa Airport) was completed to a few miles south of the city, property prices have soared especially those on the waterfront. This is primarily due to the influx of commuters but also due to very strict controls on any further waterfront development.
There is a feeling about Crystal River which is noticeably absent from many communities in Florida. The developments have been done with care, there is a certain style which suggests that development has been planned and is not haphazard. Most of the new business buildings have been attractively laid out with grass boundaries to the road and the properties themselves are solidly built rather than being timber or aluminum faced.
Original housing was based round the magnificent Kings Bay, which is a fresh water bay fed by natural springs. This maintains the water temperature in the Bay at 72°F year round and hence attracts the manatee, for which Crystal River is famous, especially in the winter months. The rigid enforcement of local codes has meant that there are absolutely no high rise developments, the maximum allowed being four stories (the norm is two story) hence the is little intrusion into the natural beauty of the Bay. From our villa there are two routes to Kings Bay, the direct route passes under a bridge but the other slightly longer but more scenic route (around 1000 feet) has no bridge hence the waterway is navigable for normal pleasure craft at all but the lowest winter tides. The villa is superbly situated in that it is close to Plantation Inn and its golf course but is not part of a major housing area. It is part of a single row of traditional florida villas of varying design and size, surrounded by protected Florida wetlands.
The Villa is centrally air-conditioned to keep you cool on the hottest of days. A new Carrier system was installed in 2004 and operates in all rooms except the Florida room (pointless due to screen windows). For a very amateur video of the Villa and it's surroundings please click here
There is a large screen room (often called a florida room or lanai) at the back of the villa which overlooks the spring fed waterway. It is an ideal spot to watch the water bird life, blue herons, egrets, local forms of kingfisher and cormorants are present most days. Ibis come to seek insects in the grass.
Cardinal birds are often present and when the bottle brush tree is in bloom you can watch the humming birds feeding from its nectar.
Manatee visit our spring and occasionally dolphins come to feed. A pair of otters nest somewhere nearby, sometimes we will not see them for weeks then for a period will see them nearly every day. To see a video of an otter at our seawall click here.
The waterway has an abundance of fish life (hence the dolphins and birdlife), large shoals of mullet arrive with the tide and the bigger ones leap clear out of the water. We often catch snapper and bass from the seawall and I have caught trout. There are many bass, most are small but the larger ones are there, my best to present is around 5lb but I have seen bigger ones. Cat fish are present in numbers but are easier to catch at night.
Almost opposite the point at which the waterway enters Kings Bay, are Banana and Parker Islands, which are popular spots for viewing or swimming with manatee. In winter months part of the Bay round the islands is turned into reserves to protect the manatee and allow them to breed without interference.
Scallop season (officially 1st July to 1st September but extended to 25th September for the past few years) has proved a huge attraction. They are found in 4 to 8 feet of water just off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico, catch limits are 2 gallons per person and in the past few years people have been catching their limits easily. All you need is snorkling gear to catch a delicacy which would cost you a fortune in a restaurant.
One of the features which attracted us to our villa is the fact that it has its own swimming pool which was refinished (at a frightening cost) in 2005, it is not Olympic in size (26 feet by 11 feet) but is completely screened. The pool is accessed via the screen room but there is a separating door which can be bolted to protect young children. During the Summer the pool is naturally heated by the sun, however it is equipped with gas heating (heating not available November to February) for which there is an extra charge if required. Although the rest of the villa is non-smoking, we do allow smoking in the screen room.
Florida room with pool beyond
There were a series of attractions which made us choose Crystal River. The city remains small enough to have retained its natural charm whilst it has been able to attract the enough of the national chain stores to create competition and give choice. There is an attractive mall with Kmart and Belk stores as well as many smaller specialty shops. Nearby on US 19 there is a large Home Depot, a new Wal-Mart in Homosassa with a SuperWalmart 20 minutes away near Inverness.
Some of the restaurants are locally owned and run, this means they retain a distinctive nature which is absent in most national chains. Most tastes are catered to from cordon bleu to burgers and there a number of excellent seafood restaurants in the area (as there should be since much of the food served is straight off the boat).
Boating is naturally very popular. From Kings Bay it is only 7 miles to the Gulf of Mexico down the Crystal River. If you bring your boat then we have a boat dock and there are various public ramps, otherwise boats can be hired from various places including Plantation Inn.
Our boat is normally stored on its trailer, so the dock is available for your use and there is room to store your trailer on our parking area. Please note that we only allow one boat per party, additional boats are allowed only with our written permission. We provide a canoe and two kayaks for the use of our guests and this is a very popular way to search for manatee or just enjoy the superb surroundings.
As you would expect in Florida, there are many golf courses in the area around Crystal River. I have played several and the standards of the local courses is generally very high, a couple of the courses have won awards and are of the very highest standard. The Plantation Inn Golf Course is only a few hundred yards away and is a fair test of golf with plenty of water. World Woods is 30 minutes away, here are two fine courses one of which is regularly included in the best 100 courses in the USA.
However prices are much lower than in Central Florida. The high season for Gulf Coast golf is the Winter months and in Summer prices are even lower (beware of Orlando/Kissimmee offers including "free" golf; whilst the green fees may be paid already, you will almost certainly have to hire a cart which can often cost as much as the total cost of fees and cart in Citrus County).
Diving in the clean spring water is very popular and there are a number of diving schools which cater for everyone from novices to experienced divers. Kings Bay is home to manatee throughout the year but the population swells during the winter months to the largest number of manatee in Florida, swimming and diving with the manatee is becoming ever more popular.
Kings Bay measures roughly 1.5 miles long by 1 mile wide and has a total area of 600 acres. It is fed by over 30 fresh water springs the largest of which is a major attraction for divers. A total of 630 million gallons per day of fresh water flows from the springs making it the second largest springs system in Florida after the Everglades. The water is rarely deeper than 9 feet especially at the southern end and due to its clarity manatee can easily be seen. The Bay is home to a huge variety of animal life. Buzzard Island is home to hundreds of its namesakes. Pelicans are always around and can be seen following the hunting dolphins. Fish life is equally abundant, snapper, redfish, bass, cobia, snook and tarpon are all present but numbers do vary in the seasons. To view a video of my very amateur attempts to capture the beauty of Kings Bay click here.
Dolphins can often be seen hunting in pods, driving schools of fish into smaller bays where they can feed on them more easily.
Ospreys and pelicans are always present and its fascinating to watch them diving for fish. There are a pair of eagles nesting nearby and they can normally be seen circling high in the sky.
When we are in Crystal River I fish in the Bay most days mostly for entertainment but catch enough to ensure that we eat fish at least once a week. The size of the Bay also means that whilst some spots do get crowded at week-ends (people tend to anchor up together and spend the afternoon socializing), there are always places to be completely alone to commune with nature.
Tarpon caught in Kings Bay
There are a growing number of experienced and qualified local seamen offering fishing and sightseeing trips. These range from dawn across Kings Bay to fly fishing for trout, they offer inshore fishing for redfish, cobia etc. and offshore excursions to fish for grouper, tarpon or sharks, there is a trip to suit every interest and budget. I like www.K5fishingcharters.com since he has videos of fish being caught in local waters.
The nearest beach is at Fort Island which is 10 minutes away at the end of Fort Island Trail. This is a pleasant family beach and near-bye a fishing pier has been recently constructed.
We can only spend part of the year in Florida, therefore we make the villa available for rent during the other months. If you are interested please view our terms and conditions and our booking form which contains our prices. We love the villa and are sure you will as well.
To see our latest prices please check our prices on the Prices and Booking Form page or our advert number 30172 with VRBO by clicking here .
For an independent view check the comments from Guests who have rented from us in the past by clicking the "Comments from our Guests" button above.
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