Snorkeling In the Springs

The network of freshwater springs along the St. Johns River in the Ocala National Forest provides visitors with spectacular opportunities to explore this unique environment and the life that thrives there. Snorkeling in the springs is a popular way to get an up close view of this underwater paradise.

Visitors are drawn to snorkeling in the springs along the St. Johns River since the crystal clear water maintains a constant average temperature of 72 degrees year round. And be sure to do your homework ahead of time to learn whether snorkeling is permitted in a particular spring.

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Snorkeling vs. Scuba Diving

While snorkeling is permitted in a majority of the freshwater springs in the Ocala National Forest, those same springs largely prohibit scuba diving. So what’s the difference in the two activities?

Snorkeling – uses a snorkel tube that extends above the surface of the water for breathing while the face is submerged.

Scuba diving – the diver is equipped with an independent source to breathe while totally submerged underwater.

In addition to a snorkel tube, those wanting to take part in the activity should also be outfitted with:

Mask – properly fitted so you can see clearly while underwater.

Fins – a set of fins to move around better in the water like the fish.

Optional equipment may include a wet suit, snorkeling vest and additional gear designed to block the sun.

Springs for Snorkeling

Snorkelers flock to the popular Silver Glen Springs off the northern shore of Lake George in the Ocala National Forest. The spring is located north of Astor, Florida and is known for the sightings of manatees warming up in the winter. Silver Glen Springs produces an average 65 million gallons of water each day from two vents. The spring is home to a wide variety of fish.

Did You Know: Silver Glen Springs is an important archeological site and considered sacred space for Native Americans?

The depth of Silver Glen Springs is shallow in comparison to other springs in the region so children can explore it too. A number of other great springs for snorkeling in the area include Juniper Springs and DeLeon Springs.

While snorkeling consider taking photos of what all you see underwater to capture the moment. A good waterproof camera can come in handy.

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Getting To the Springs

Most of the freshwater springs along the St. Johns River in the Ocala National Forest are best reached by boat. In case you are wondering when you’ve arrived at the actual spring, most are marked with signage as you enter the spring run. However a sure sign that you are close to a spring is that the water will appear crystal clear and seem to bubble to the surface. In fact that’s exactly what it’s doing as it flows from the spring head.

Snorkeling From The Boat

Coming to visit us in Astor soon and you want to plan a couple of fun days in the area? Make sure to reserve a boat to enjoy the St. Johns River and get ready for snorkeling in the springs. Castaways On The River in Astor, located on the edge of the Ocala National Forest, also offers accommodations either quaint cottages or spacious motel rooms. Contact Castaways On The River at (352) 759-3442 or to reserve a rental boat, a cottage or hotel room or need assistance with other plans.

 

Plan A Perfect Summer Barbecue

Enjoying lazy days in the sun and on the water is a great time to plan a perfect summer barbecue party. Family and friends will want to be included in all the fun, and of course the main attraction will be the food.

As for what is on the menu, it will depend on a variety of factors like who is doing the cooking, how many people are attending, and what time the food will be served? Will it be an all-day affair or have a designated timeline? Will food be served in shifts? Served at a specific time? These are questions you’ll need to answer up front so your guests know what to expect.

It’s best to have an idea early on of how large the gathering will be to determine how much food will be needed. This will help with the overall food shopping and delegating who can supply what item.

Before we get too far along, let’s clear up a question that may be a matter of preference. Is it a barbecue or cookout? Technically the two can be considered the same in terms of events. There is no right or wrong menu item when it comes to chowing down. A barbecue just means cooking outside on the grill.

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How to Plan A Perfect Summer Barbecue Party

So now that we’ve settled that, let’s move on to figuring out the menu. The typical summer barbecue party menu includes burgers and hotdogs. Some gatherings may include more elaborate fare to enjoy such as the days’ fresh catch from the St. Johns River.

The seasonal fishing calendar forecasts it’s a good time to catch Bass, Bluegill, Redear, Specks, Stripers and Catfish. So anglers let’s see what you add to the barbecue. When you return to the boat dock here at Castaways, use the convenient fish cleaning station to get everything ready for the grill just a few steps away.

And don’t forget about all the great side dishes to go along with the main entrees from salads, beans, and other tasty treats and appetizers. Invite everyone to provide their favorite dish to help feed the masses. Get ready for recipe sharing or be prepared to protect the secret ingredient.

And since we are talking about summer time, get the ice cream churn out and put the popsicles on ice so everyone young and old can enjoy a variety of cool goodies.

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A good grill master must be included to plan a perfect summer barbecue .

Barbecue Grill Duty

Before everyone digs in to enjoy the spread of food, make sure to thank the person who handled the grill duties. This is often a hard, hot and thankless job. Remember without someone on the grill, it’s just eating out. Tips to show your thanks is to make sure the grill master has a cold, refreshing beverage close by to enjoy. It’s likely to already be hot, then add to that the heat and smoke from the grill. Keep the cook cool and comfortable.

It’s also a good idea to designate helpers for the grill master so they can play close attention to the food and not have to worry about carrying it to the serving area. They may need other tools and supplies so extra pairs of hands are often appreciated.

Plan Ahead

Consider creating a list of all the items needed to pull off the perfect summer barbecue party. It’s always the little things like forgetting a special condiment that can derail a good plan. If you are heading to a remote area, it may be difficult to run to the nearest supermarket or big box retailer to pick up a few items. So pack what you’ll need ahead of time to ensure everything arrives at the barbecue.

Also who is bringing the plates, cutlery, napkins, drinks, ice etc.? Yes those are all the things that round out your barbecue that need to go on the plan ahead list.

It may also be wise to have a backup plan in case of rain on the day of the barbecue. A quick rain shower or rolling thunderstorms is a daily occurrence in Florida during the summer months. Check the local weather report to see when rain is forecast. The information can help if you need to change the start or end time of the barbecue. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on the clouds if those attending the barbecue go out on a boat.

Barbecue Party Accessories

Bring a few board games for all to enjoy or a deck of cards to see who has the best hand. This is where the fun begins with plenty of laughter and great memories are made. Pose for a selfie or two to capture the moment.

Board games also come in handy while waiting for the weather to clear up outdoors.

And what’s a party without some good tunes on the speaker? Designate a DJ to make sure the music is playing and everyone gets to hear a favorite song. Create a play list to get the party started. Dancing is a good way to work off a few of those calories you enjoyed from the grill.

Don’t forget to plan for everyone to enjoy time in the sun or get out on the water. All that fun is sure to work up hearty appetites which will be ready to feast on a barbecue spread.

Let us know how we can help you plan a perfect summer barbecue party here at Castaways.

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Plan Your Party Along the St. Johns River

Castaways On The River in Astor, Florida has space, outfitted with grills, to plan the perfect summer barbecue party. The resort has rental cottages and motel rooms to accommodate guests. Also inquire about our fleet of rental boats to get out on the St. Johns River to fish and to enjoy nature at area attractions like nearby freshwater springs. Castaways is nestled on the eastern edge of the Ocala National Forest, located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along State Road 40. Call Castaways On The River at (352) 759-3442 to book a rental boat, reserve rooms and to arrange additional plans.

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What to Do During A Storm On A Boat

Storm season presents many challenges to Florida boaters. It’s best to be aware and prepared for what may come rather than being caught by surprise without an action plan.

A saying in Florida is true, it’s not if a storm is coming especially during the busy summer months, but rather when is it coming? Typically you can set your watch by Florida’s predictable afternoon summer storms. If you are heading out to enjoy a fun day on the water or to get in a little fishing, there are a few tips to follow to ensure you know what to do during a storm when boating.

Make Your Boating Plans Known:

Make sure someone knows your boating plan for the day. Whether it’s a family member not on the boat with you or the staff at the boat rental facility, inform others of where you are headed on the boat. In case a storm rolls in and you are unable to return, they will be able to notify authorities of where to search should you need assistance.

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Make sure everyone has on a life vest. It’s Florida law for children age 6 and under to wear a life vest at all times on a boat.

Wear Life Vest While Boating:

This next tip is common sense, but few take time to heed it until it’s too late. Take a moment to put on a life vest or other personal flotation device (PFD). It simply can save your life if the weather turns bad and you are separated from the boat. And remember, it’s the law in Florida that children age 6 years and younger must wear an approved life vest while the vessel is underway.

Check the guidelines for life vests, life jackets, or personal flotation devices. Note: inflatable personal flotation devices are prohibited.

Note: The National Safe Boating Council promotes National Safe Boating Week annually in May.

The Boat U.S. Foundation is a reference for free online boater safety courses. In order to rent at boat at Castaways On The River, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 must have a boating safety card.

Check The Weather Before You Leave The Dock:

Be sure to check the weather for your planned boating day. A storm prediction may mean altering your plans a bit. Instead of going out in the afternoon, it may be best to boat in the morning and return to shore well ahead of the storm.

Be prepared of what to do in a storm while on a boat.
Be prepared of what to do in a storm while on a boat.

Be Prepared – Know What To Do On A Boat During a Storm:

It is not uncommon in Florida to have a fast moving storm approach without any warning. If you are caught out on the water, a survival kit of sorts may come in quite useful until you can make it back to shore. Include:

  • A secondary source of communication should the boat radio become disabled.
  • A backup power source is a good item to include in your kit.
  • Extra water and food to tide you over just in case.
  • Flashlights, a first aid kit.
During a storm it's advised to take down the top to prevent damage from high winds and lightning.
During a storm it’s advised to take down the top to prevent damage from high winds and lightning.

Take Down the Boat Top:

Usually the roll of storm clouds in Florida means lightning in most cases is not far behind. If your boat has a top, the high winds may make it dangerous to navigate and it becomes a target for lightning strikes. At the first rumble of thunder and increasing winds, it may be best to stop and take the boat top down. It may mean being wet as the rain falls, but it may make your return to shore safer.

Florida’s tropical climate and warm water temperatures are the perfect ingredients for lightning strikes. The state has the nickname as the Lightning Capital of the U.S. So when you see storm clouds moving in your direction keep an ear out for thunder and prepare to get to safety. It’s better to be cautious than to deal with the consequences of a lightning strike on open water.

Head to Shore Out Of The Storm:

Take a look around to see where you are when you realize a storm is approaching. Once you make the decision to head back, your return route may be altered to ensure the quickest and safest path. This is not the time to speed recklessly, you could cause unnecessary damage. During a storm, take your time and guide the boat safely back to shore.

Plan Your Boat Rental and Stay on the River

Spend the day boating along the St. Johns River from the dock at Castaways On the River here in Astor, Florida. We can help you with a checklist of Florida boating regulations, navigating what you need to know to rent a boat, and plan your stay with us. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and area travel plans today!

Daytona Bike Week Fans: Plan Your Florida Backroads Trip

Enjoying the open road on your motorcycle is a beautiful thing. For motorcycle enthusiasts, Daytona Bike Week in Florida is the best time of year. Bikers seeking an experience on true Florida backroads need to drive through Astor, Florida and take advantage of an area that opens its doors to bikers.

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Bikers seeking an experience on true Florida backroads need to drive through Astor, Florida.

State Road 40 Caters to Daytona Bike Week Crowd

The mostly two-lane State Road 40 cuts through North Central Florida and provides you a direct route to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. The road is a popular spot for bikers on the weekend and gives motorcycle enthusiasts a breathtaking view of Old Florida.

Motorcycleroads.com ranks the State Road 40 drive through the Ocala Forest as the 15th best Florida motorcycle route, calling it “a mixture of forest, lakes and wetlands, the route is popular with local riders.” Come check the route out for yourselves!

Visit Astor, Florida Dining Spots

Looking for some motorcycle-friendly restaurants? Look no further than Astor, Florida along the St. Johns River. There are five must-stop dining spots that offer a variety of fresh seafood and waterfront dining options. Many of these are popular motorcycle spot for bikers that have parking spaces ready to accommodate large biker groups.

Visit the Ocala National Forest

While you are here, take a hike through the Ocala National Forest and do some hunting in a nationally protected forest that covers 607 square miles.

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Sunsets along Florida’s backroads and near the St. Johns River are a sight to behold.

Look for Bears and Wildlife on the Scenic Byway

The nationally-designated Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway in North Central Florida is a great place for bikers to catch a glimpse of Florida black bears, deer and other Florida wildlife. The east-west segment of the byway takes bikers along State Road 40 near the St. Johns River.

Use an app to find black bears and learn how to improve your black bear spotting skills.

Enjoy a Lake George Outing

Do you like to fish? Lake George and the St. Johns River near Astor are full of bass. Enjoy some Lake George fishing, boating and a stunning sunset on beautiful Lake George.

Look for Manatees in the Natural Springs

The St. Johns River near Astor is home to some of the state’s most popular freshwater springs, which stay at a constant 72-degrees year-round. Make sure you look for manatees while you visit the spring.

Hike the Florida National Scenic Trail

Hike the central portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail in Astor to search for wildlife and enjoy the peacefulness of the nearby St. Johns River. This nationally protected trail carves a path right through North Central Florida.

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Enjoy the serenity of a backroads motorcycle trip on your way to Daytona Bike Week.

Rent a Cottage on the River

Are you looking for some peace and quiet before you head to Bike Week? Castaways on the River in Astor offers comfortable cottages and motel rooms overlooking the serene St. Johns River.

Rent a Boat

Who says you can only ride your motorcycle during Bike Week? Just 40 minutes from Daytona Beach are rental boats waiting for you to go boating and fishing on the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book you boat rental and your Daytona Bike Week accommodations today!

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5 Must Stop Dining Spots Along the St. Johns River

The St. Johns River in North Central Florida is a beautiful place to enjoy nature and a nice meal along the river. The fall season and cooler temperatures make November a great time of year to experience the area. We have the five must stop dining spots along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida that should be on your list.

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We have the five must stop dining spots along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida that should be on your list.

Castaways Restaurant

Known as a quaint restaurant near the St. Johns River, Castaways Restaurant offers a great seafood menu selection. Castaways is known for its menu variety. The restaurant also offers a great salad bar, fresh seafood sandwiches and drinks at the upstairs bar that longtime patrons say are “generous.” Make sure you head to the restaurant on Friday for live entertainment.

Menu selection tip: Try the bacon wrapped shrimp and the lobster bisque.

Blackwater Inn Restaurant & Lounge

Another restaurant that sits directly on the banks of the St. Johns River, the Blackwater Inn Restaurant and Lounge has quaint outdoor seating areas that are built within the shade of big trees and offer spectacular views of the river. A haven for fresh seafood the Blackwater Inn offers everything from fresh seafood platters and catfish fillets to sirloin steaks on its menu. Longtime patrons rave about the Blackwater Inn’s hush puppies recipe too. Arrive by boat and take a seat at the bar or the restaurant. Looking for something different and unique to the North Central Florida area? Try the frog legs for an appetizer and the grilled quail or gator tail for an entree. Don’t leave the table without trying a piece of the Chocolate Drizzled Key Lime Pie for dessert. You won’t be disappointed.

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November is a great time of year to enjoy fresh seafood dining along the St. Johns River.

Old Sugar Mill & Griddle House

You’ve hit the breakfast jackpot when you visit Old Sugar Mill Restaurant & Bakery. Known as the Old Spanish Sugar Mill to locals, it’s a unique restaurant inside De Leon Springs State Park that has working griddles at each table to make your own fresh pancakes. Servers bring you pitchers of homemade Early American pancake batters made from five fresh stone ground flour to pour on your hot griddle and flip right at your table. You can order an assortment of blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips, apples and more to add into your special pancakes. The restaurant also serves up some tasty sausage, bacon, ham and eggs. Don’t forget to take home some homemade bread and dessert treats at the homemade bakery before you leave.

The Old Sugar Mill also offers an assortment of salads and fresh sandwiches and burgers for lunch.

Arrival Tip: Unless you’re arriving by boat, entry to the Old Sugar Mill Restaurant & Bakery requires you to pay $14 per person for entry to De Leon State Park. Children under four are free. Before or after your meal, immerse yourself in the history of De Leon Springs State Park, which is thought to be the site where Ponce De Leon discovered is famous Fountain of Youth.

Sparky’s Place Restaurant

Sparky’s Place Restaurant on Highway 40 near the St. Johns River is known for serving the best pizza along the river. Sparky’s makes homemade sauces and fresh dough to serve up pizza that longtime patrons can’t live without. It’s a great place to visit and refuel after a day swimming and exploring at Juniper Springs. If you’re a burger aficionado, you must order the Swamp Burge on the menu, which comes topped with fries topped with cheese, bacon and special sauce.

Sparky’s is also known for its breakfast offerings. Celebrate the Florida Black Bears of the nearby Ocala National Forest by ordering some bear cakes (pancakes with berries and nuts) and red neck biscuits, which are served with sausage, fried eggs and sausage gravy.

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The St. Johns River area near Astor, FL is known for its fresh seafood offerings.

Essex Seafood House

Essex House Seafood House is known for its fresh seafood menu offerings. Their most popular offering is their whole belly fried clams appetizer, which can also act as a meal. Many call their New England-style seafood the best you can find outside of New England.

Don’t forget to bring cash. Bikers are welcome here too.

Book Your St. Johns River Visit

Is your mouth watering now from all the fresh seafood and other menu offerings available to you along the St. Johns River? It’s time to book a stay at Castaways on the River to do some fishing and rent a boat. We offer comfortable cottages and motel rooms so you can enjoy the area and spend time on the river and at the local restaurants. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and fishing adventure today.

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All Red Everything for Heart Health at Castaways on the River

February is American Heart Month – the perfect time to begin your journey to better heart health while cruising down the St. Johns River.  American Heart Month focuses on knowledge and the promotion of healthy lifestyles for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

AMERICAN HEART MONTH
February is American Heart Month

The American Heart Association encourages some of these tips for a healthy heart and lifestyle:

DIET

Some foods proven to be beneficial for your heart are fish, nuts, berries, oatmeal, red wine, dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher), cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, whole grains, avocado, and olive oil. A varied diet is the key to a healthy heart. All of these foods offer different benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids in fish, the phytonutrients in berries, and vitamin C in citrus.

American Heart Month
A varied diet is the key to a healthy heart.

Speaking of fish – known as the Bass Fishing Capital of the World, the St. Johns River is rich in fisheries including ample crappie, bluegills, catfish and other varieties freshwater fish. Exceptional areas for bass fishing include western shorelines at Juniper, Salt and Silver Glen springs, which are accessible by Lake George. In the winter, you might also find bass in schools to the south end of Lake George through early spring. When you visit Castaways on the River, you can keep a heart healthy diet and relax at all these great fishing locations.

 

EXERCISE

While on vacation at the beautiful St. Johns River is the perfect opportunity to switch your routine and be more active. Regular exercise is required to maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress hormones and assist to lower blood pressure, which benefits the heart and mood.

American Heart Month
Keep active during your vacation at St. Johns River.

When visiting Castaways on the River you can also stop by the St. Johns River Water Management District which maintains approximately 700,000 acres of land that offer a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, hunting, cycling and equestrian riding.

LAUGH

In order to achieve optimal health we have to take into consideration our emotional health and look beyond the physical markers of being fit. If you remember that your heart is not just about pumping blood, it will make sense. Endorphins help ease stress and minimize pain, both literally and metaphorically. At Castaways on the River, we promote healthy living by providing a family friendly and relaxing atmosphere.

Make Heart Month count and put these tips into practice at Castaways on the River!  Give us at (352) 759-3422 to to learn about all the activities you can do while visiting to keep your heart active.

Watching Wildlife in the Ocala National Forest and Along the St. Johns River

Watching wildlife in the Ocala National Forest and along the St. Johns River is a panoramic view of nature. The area is home to a large variety of wildlife from birds to fish which draws visitors from all walks of life to get a closer look.

Watching Wildlife in the Ocala National Forest and Along the St. Johns River
Manatees are popular sightings along the St. Johns River especially when temperatures dip.

Whether visitors are on a casual outing or an enthusiast viewing a particular species, it won’t take long for the show of wildlife to delight spectators. Few can say they saw a manatee, an alligator or a bear all in the same day. Oh my! In this area of Florida, it’s just another day.

Manatee Watching on the St. John’s River

While manatees are known as gentle giants, you have to be purposeful and patient to see them in their natural habitat. They are shy and will gracefully avoid boats, other vessels and noise in the wild. If you turn your boat motor off and sit for a bit, you may catch a quick glimpse as they surface for a fresh breath of air. A manatee won’t come close to investigate so have your camera ready and stay quiet.

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A diverse group of wildlife can be found in the Ocala National Forest and along the St. Johns River.

Wild Gators on the St. John’s River Shores

Seeing alligators catching a little sun along the shoreline of the St. Johns River is commonplace. Remember this is their natural habitat so observe at a distance and be careful. Alligators are swift swimmers and prefer marshy areas or open water. The slow moving river flowing through the Ocala National Forest is ideal to see an alligator while enjoying a day of boating.

Watch out for Bears

While there are no lions or tigers in the region, there are bears in the wild. The black bear population is mostly concentrated in this region, hence the name of the scenic Florida Black Bear Highway. The 60-mile route is the best place to sight a bear in the area.

Birds on the Wild Side

We’re not talking about snowbirds here. The Ocala National Forest is home to approximately 200 species of birds; especially a large concentration of American Eagles. The area is considered somewhat of a paradise for bird watching enthusiasts. If you are staying with us, be sure to meet the pelicans. Don’t worry they won’t let you ignore them for long along the dock, they keep a close eye on newcomers and old alike.

Watching out for Wildlife on the St. John’s River

Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie and Blue Crab are plentiful in the region attracting both sport and casual anglers. Get advice from the veterans to learn the best spots to snag your catch. While all have their prime seasons, it’s best to check ahead to see what’s biting and where to plan your strategy for the day on the water.

Watching Wildlife – Entertainment at its Finest

Did you know there are several groups of wildlife comedians? Yes, they would be the squirrels who can be seen whizzing around in a rush everywhere and checking things out. And don’t leave out the cute turtles peaking from their shells to see who is stopping by for a visit. These are cute pictures for sure to remember your trip.

Check with the Castaways On The River staff to learn the best spots to watch wildlife in the area. We’ll be glad to accommodate your stay for a bird watching expedition or for those boating or fishing trips. Contact us via Facebook or Twitter, through our website or call us at (352) 759-3422.

Cast Away the Old and Usher in New Year’s Resolutions

New Years Resolution
Cast away the old and usher in New Years Reolutions

The flip of the calendar signals that it’s time to cast away the old and usher in the New Year. Yes, it’s time to draw up that list of resolutions for the year ahead.

We thought you might like to take a peek at our New Year’s resolutions to get started. And in a place like Castaways on the River in Astor, FL, it’s hard not to incorporate the beauty of the area into our list. It’s stuff you’ve always wanted to do but just don’t make time to do. So get ready to cast out the old and usher in new experiences in 2016!

  1. Watch the sunrise. Make a New Year’s Resolution to watch the sunrise over the St. Johns River at least once a month; more often if you can swing it! You’ll be glad you have those beautiful memories.
  1. Dinner by sunset. It’s nice to spend some time enjoying dinner, reflecting on the day and relaxing as the day draws to an end. It’s so peaceful.
New Years Fishing
New Year’s Resolution: Fish More
  1. Fish more. So who does not want to block out time in their schedule to make this happen? Explore other new fishing spots and see what you catch! Whether you catch the big one or nothing at all, the time spent is well worth it. #FishMore
  1. Spend a weekend boating. You may get a few hours on the water, but this year increase that time to an entire weekend! Before you know it, you’ll spend every weekend on a boat. It’s the life!
  1. Plan a Day Trip. There are so many places to discover near Astor, FL along the St. Johns River that make perfect day trips. Just pick one and then pick another! You may discover one we haven’t tried yet!
  1. Kayak the Big River. You may be fine taking the kayak out on the smaller creeks and narrow rivers off the St. Johns River but you’ve yet to navigate the big river. This is the year to make it happen! Then tag us in your selfies so we can share the proud moment too!
New Years Manatee
New Years Resolution: Find a Manatee
  1. Find a Manatee. On a morning when the air is a little crisp, set out for a lazy day on the river in a boat at idle speed or turn it off completely to watch for the graceful glide of a manatee. It takes patience but they will be there keeping warm, usually near the area springs. Yes, this is a must-do on our list.
New Years Gators
New Year’s Resolution: Count Gators
  1. Go On a Gator Count. Now be careful with this one. Yes, there are alligators along the St. Johns River, it’s their natural habitat. So counting the alligators along the shore line or in shallow spots will not be difficult, especially on a clear day. Warning: you must have a license to capture an alligator during the designated hunting season so don’t get any ideas beyond counting them.
  1. Coordinate a Getaway. There’s always one person in the group who takes the lead in planning the group getaway. You’ll find enough to keep the adventurous members of the group busy. And there’s plenty of peace and quiet for those who want a laidback getaway.

If you’ve added some or all of these resolutions to your list, let us know how we can help you stick to them and have a great New Year! Here at Castaways, we can handle the accommodations for your getaway, rent you a boat for counting alligators, and suggest spots to see a great sunrise or sunset. Reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter, go to our website or call us at (352) 759-3422.

National Fishing & Boating Week on the St. Johns River

The weekend of June 13th and 14th are the last days of National Fishing and Boating Week 2015.  We’re always happy to celebrate a week that spotlights our two favorite things – boating & fishing! Especially since fishing season never ends here in Florida, especially on the river! Call us and book your getaway today!

Set off for a great day of boating and fishing from Castaways on the River in Astor, FL.

Fishing is a great way to spend your recreational time.  More than 30 million of us across the United States think so according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (NSFHWR).  That’s how many people went on at least one fishing trip in the past year.  Freshwater fishing made up 81 percent of those trips just like our favorite spot, the beautiful St. Johns River.

So why are we all fishing obsessed?  It relieves stress! No ringing cell phone, no constant streams of text messaging, it’s your unplug time. It’s well-deserved YOU time!

Fishing is about friendship. For those who love fishing, there is nothing better than spending a long day on the river with friends and family and good conversation. Fishing brings laughter as we try to reel in the one that is just a bit smarter than we are and joy when we finally catch the trophy we’ve been waiting for all day.  There’s also the moment of shared disappointment when the one that got away is the only one we wanted.

Fishing licenses in in Florida help fund the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Anglers are outdoorsmen and women. They love the river and will work to conserve it and the life teeming in these waters.

Keeping with the spirit of the National Fishing and Boating Week, we urge you to pass this love along. Bring out that fishing novice friend for some time in the boat.  Summertime is high season to bring in bass from the St. Johns River! Take a friend out on the river and share the excitement of getting a bruiser channel catfish. Plan a weekend boil and go out for the day to get a bucket full of blue crab. Castaways on the River offers boat rentals right on the St. Johns River for your convenience.

We would love to be part of your long weekend or week-long escape. Give us a call at 352-759-3422 and make National Fishing and Boating Week 2015 one to remember. For more great information follow our blog and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

A Relaxing Getaway Close to Major Attractions in the Region

Telling visitors how to get to Castaways on the River in Astor, FL typically means using the cities of Ocala and Daytona Beach as landmarks. Most tourists have heard of these locales since both regions host several events gaining national attention year round.

Our guests come in March for Bike Week & October for Biketoberfest.

Of course, the world famous Daytona Beach is home to NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in February, Bike Week in March, CokeZero 400 in July, Biketoberfest in October and other racing events. The beach along the Atlantic Ocean is known as a Spring Break hotspot for college students.

The area is less than an hour drive from world class golf courses including Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, home to the LPGA Coates Golf Championship in January. The tournament is the newest stop added to the LPGA tour. Ocala’s equestrian ties also attract large events including the Ocala Breeders Sales, HITS Ocala Winter Circuit and the Live Oak International to name a few.

Nestled on the eastern rim of the Ocala National Forest off U.S. 40 on the St. Johns River, Castaways on the River is a relaxing getaway but within proximity to enjoy great tourist destinations.

Blue Crabs are popular in the St. Johns River

Eco-tourism plays a big role in this region thanks to the St. Johns River and the Ocala National Forest. The river is a fisherman’s paradise, home to several species of fish like Black Crappie or Speckled Perch to Largemouth Bass and Stripped Bass. The river, which flows south to north, is also known for White Shrimp and Blue Crab. Yes, that means you can catch lunch or dinner in just a few hours and prepare it on one of our outdoor grills on in the kitchen of your cottage.

The Castaways on the River can accommodate small or large groups.

Our guests can enjoy lodging in one of our quaint cottages or one of our luxury motel rooms. Whether you choose to spend the day boating or fishing on the St. Johns River or take a daytrip to a nearby tourist attraction, Castaways on the River is your headquarters to do it all!