Exploring Astor, Florida, Along the St. Johns River!

Astor, nestled along Florida’s enchanting St. Johns River, offers a serene escape into the heart of nature’s wonders. This waterway navigates through some of Astor’s most captivating landscapes, inviting adventurers to explore its rich diversity of ecosystems and history. 

How Navigable is the St. Johns River?

The St. Johns River is one of the most navigated rivers in Florida, boasting a depth and width that can accommodate boats of various sizes. Its relatively slow flow and absence of significant obstacles make it a favored route for recreational boaters and anglers. With over 300 miles of navigable waterway, this river offers ample opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Astor, Florida serves as a gateway to the breathtaking beauty of this historic waterway. Boasting a depth and width that comfortably accommodates vessels of all sizes, this river promises an unforgettable journey. Its gentle currents and minimal obstacles make it a favored route, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable navigation experience.

Canal with boat docks, Astor, Lake County, Florida, USA
A quiet day along the river!

How Far Can You Boat on the St. Johns River in Florida?

From its origins near Vero Beach to its mouth at Jacksonville, this body of water spans approximately 310 miles. Astor stands as a picturesque midpoint along this pathway. As you cruise through Astor’s stretch of the river, you’ll be treated to lush forests and bubbling springs each offering a glimpse into Florida’s diverse natural heritage.

Whether you’re interested in birdwatching, fishing or simply enjoying the serenity of nature, this spot has something to offer every boating enthusiast.

Navigate your Way Down The St. Johns River on a River Adventure! 

The St. Johns River offers boaters a remarkable opportunity to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Florida’s waterways. With its navigable waters, wide-ranged ecosystems and recreational amenities the river allows adventurers to embark on a journey of discovery. By respecting safety guidelines and being mindful of environmental considerations, boaters can experience all the river has to offer while preserving its beauty for future generations to enjoy!

Set sail on your own personal adventure! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our website to book your boat rental! Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off your trip!

What Types of Fish are Located in the St. Johns River?

When it comes to the St. Johns River in Astor, FL there’s a rich variety of fish that call it home. Anglers and nature enthusiasts alike can find an assortment of species swimming through these waters, making it a prime location for fishing and exploration!

What are the most common types of fish found in the St. Johns River?

There is a diverse assortment of fish found in the St. Johns River. You will find both freshwater and saltwater species inhabiting different parts of the river. The river is characterized by brackish water, a unique feature that is not typically associated with freshwater river ecosystems. This distinctive mix of fresh and saltwater creates a dynamic environment that supports a range of marine and freshwater species. The St. Johns River includes species that are typically found in saltwater habitats.

Some of the more common freshwater species include:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill,
  • Crappie
  • Catfish

On the saltwater side, you might spot:

  • Redfish
  • Flounder
  • Speckled trout

As for the most common fish found in the St. Johns River, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint just one. The river is home to a diverse ecosystem, and the “most common” species can vary depending on the time of year and specific location. However, largemouth bass is often a top contender for most frequently caught fish. Its abundance, combined with its popularity among anglers, makes it a staple catch in these waters.

The catch of the day is secured!

Can fish caught from the St. Johns River be consumed?

The answer is yes, but with a few considerations to keep in mind. The Florida Department of Health has issued guidelines on the consumption of fish from these waters, especially due to potential contamination from pollutants, like mercury. They recommend limiting consumption of certain species like largemouth bass and bowfin to once a week or less. It’s always a good idea to check the most recent advisories before fishing or eating fish from any body of water.

Create your own fishing adventure at Castaways on the River!

Overall, the St. Johns River is a haven for fish of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re an avid angler or just someone who enjoys observing nature, you’re sure to be captivated by the marine life that calls this river home! Make Castaways on the River your next fishing destination. Rent one of our 20-foot pontoon boats and set sail! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our boat rentals page to get started. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off the types of fish you discover!

Exploring the Wonders of the St. Johns River

The St. Johns River is a charming waterway for anyone who loves adventures and nature. And guess what? At Castaways on the River, we have bottled up all the fun the river has to offer. It’s the perfect spot for anyone seeking to dive headfirst into the great outdoors and soak up all that natural beauty!

How Far Can You Navigate the St. Johns River?

The St. Johns River is an ideal spot for all adventures! As you gear up for your river excursion, here’s a handy tip to keep in mind: our boat rentals come with a gentle reminder. There’s an 11-mile boundary both north and south of Castaways on the River. For a visual guide on where your nautical adventures can take you, check out our map of authorized areas. At Castaways on the River, we’ve got fantastic pontoon rentals available, perfect for enhancing your time on the water.

Pontoon boats displayed lined up at Castaways on the River.
Ready to set sail along the St. Johns River!

What is the Depth of the St. Johns River?

Spanning over 300 miles, the depth of the river can vary quite a bit. In some spots, you’ll find it’s pretty shallow, maybe just a few feet deep, especially closer to the banks. But as you move toward the middle, it can surprise you, reaching up to 20-30 feet in some places! It really depends on where you are along the river. So, if you’re planning a dip or wondering about boat clearance, it’s a good idea to check out specific spots or areas along the river where you’re headed.

Is the St. Johns River Freshwater or Saltwater?

When it comes to exploring the waterways around Castaways on the River, one common question that arises is the distinction between fresh and saltwater. The St. Johns River presents a fascinating mix known as brackish water, created when run-off creeks and springs add salt from underground deposits to the river’s freshwater. It also occurs where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a unique blend. Brackish water is neither fully salty nor entirely fresh; it’s a captivating blend of both. This mix allows for a diverse array of aquatic life to thrive in its midst.

For angling enthusiasts, the brackish water is a treasure trove. With its teeming fish population, including largemouth bass, catfish and crappie, fishing here is an angler’s dream. Castaways on the River not only offers an escape to the river, but also provides insights into the best spots for casting your line. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, the prospect of landing a prized catch in these waters is an exciting lure that can be explored further in “St. Johns River Bass Fishing: What You Need to Know

A largemouth bass is spotted jumping out of the St. Johns River.
The perfect catch!

Get Ready to Explore! 

With its picturesque landscapes and diverse offerings, the St. Johns River is a mesmerizing waterway awaiting your exploration. Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Whether fishing, swimming or simply soaking in the beauty, you are secured an escape that rejuvenates the soul.

Pack your sense of adventure and prepare for an experience! Castaways on the River awaits, promising a getaway like no other. Visit our cottage and boat rental options to experience it for yourself! 

Hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail

The Florida National Scenic Trail is a national treasure of 1,300 miles of federally designated recreation trail that meanders across Florida right near the St. Johns River. This beautiful scenic trail has welcomed visitors for over 50 years. To celebrate, we have the tips you need to enjoy the peaceful and scenic Florida National Scenic Trail while hiking in Florida.

hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail
The Florida National Scenic Trail is approximately 1,300 miles long and has officially been a beautiful part of the state for over 50 years.

Plot the Distance While Hiking in Florida

In total, the Florida National Scenic Trail is approximately 1,300 miles long, with most hikers starting in the southern tip of the state and working their way north to Pensacola. That entire hike requires two to three months of hiking.

We suggest tackling the central portion of the trail near Astor, FL, and the St. Johns River, where you can search for birds, Florida black bears and enjoy the serenity of the river and other wildlife in the Ocala National Forest.

Here is a map of the Florida National Scenic Trail that allows you to plot and print the portion of the trail you want to hike.

The Florida National Scenic Trail is Different

Is this your first time hiking in Florida? Hiking in the Sunshine State is different than anywhere else. There may not be a lot of elevation, but there are other obstacles hikers must overcome. Follow these Florida hiking tips:

  • It’s hot in the summer so plan your hiking trips in the early morning hours before noon.
  • Carry enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Carry a GPS or compass to stay on track.
  • Take a cell phone.
  • Wear light and breathable clothing.
hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail
Hiking in the Sunshine State is different than anywhere else. Follow our hiking tips.

Backpack Checklist

What does a hiker need for a hiking trip on the Florida National Scenic Trail? Here’s your Florida backpack packing checklist:

  • Rain poncho
  • Hat
  • Bandanas
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray
  • A first aid kit

Are you seeking to camp overnight? Use this list of designated campsites and trailhead locations.

Wear Boots

We know it’s Florida and you feel like you should wear sandals everywhere. But stick to sandals on the beach and hiking boots on the trails. Florida is damp and it’s easy to get your feet wet. A good pair of hiking boots will keep your feet dry. Take extra pairs of socks, just in case.

Visit the Ocala National Forest

The Ocala National Forest is a must-stop when hiking the central portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. It’s 607 square miles of preserved, nationally-protected forest full of 600 lakes, natural springs and rivers. There are also parks to enjoy freshwater clear springs, campgrounds and canoeing opportunities.

Read our blog on watching wildlife in the Ocala National Forest for great wildlife viewing opportunities.

hiking the trail
Enjoy the scenery and the St. Johns River on your next Florida hike.

Be Cautious Around Wildlife

Florida black bears, snakes and alligators are common sights along the Florida National Scenic Trail while hiking in Florida. Enjoy the wildlife on your hike, but stay away from these creatures when hiking in Florida. Check out this guide to identify Florida poisonous snakes.

Enjoy the St. Johns River

The St. Johns River alone is a fantastic reason to visit the Florida National Scenic Trail near Astor. It’s a great place to rent a boat and enjoy fishing and boating at Castaways on the River. We also offer cottages and motel rooms near a marina on the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to plan your summer hiking and river trip today!

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6 Tips to Stay Safe Around Wild Alligators

There isn’t a more beautiful place to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of north central Florida than on the St. Johns River. When you’re boating, fishing or hiking trails near the river, you’re likely to run into longtime residents of the river – alligators. If you do, we offer these tips to stay safe around alligators while you’re enjoying the St. Johns River.

Don’t Feed the Alligators

This is the most important alligator rule. Alligators are naturally afraid of humans. Feeding them with food other than their natural prey only makes them bolder and makes them want to seek out people to find more food. So keep the people food to yourself. You also don’t want to feed ducks, turtles or other natural wildlife along the St. Johns River.

Be Cautious During Mating Season

Alligators can be a bit testy and do peculiar things during mating season, which happens in the spring and the summer months. Alligators only leave their marked territories this time of year to look for females, so you may see larger alligators more frequently and in places you don’t normally see them. Just wave to them, give them their space and leave them alone.

Never disturb alligator nests or baby alligators because their mom is always nearby ready to protect her babies.

Keep Your Dogs on a Leash

Everyone likes to take their dogs boating and fishing on the St. Johns River. Just be sure to keep them on a leash when you disembark the boat for a restroom break. You don’t want them running off alone, especially during alligator mating season.

Keep your Distance

Alligators may look lazy and slow, but when they want to move, they can move fast! You should stay at least 60 feet away from alligators at all times. If an alligator hisses or lunges at you, you’re way too close. Also, never disturb alligator nests or baby alligators because their mom is always nearby ready to protect her babies.

alligator on the river
Don’t swim in areas where you can’t see your arms or legs to avoid alligators.

Water Safety

The cool refreshing water of the St. Johns River is enticing when you’re on the boat and want to take a swim. But if you can’t see your arms, legs and feet when you’re in the water, you shouldn’t swim in the water. Stick to swimming in the cool, refreshing springs like Silver Glen Springs and other springs you can access from the St. Johns River. The water is shallower, crystal clear and alligators aren’t likely to be there.

Fishing Around Alligators

Be cautious when casting a line near alligators. Some alligators will try and grab a hooked fish. Also stay away from fishing in heavy vegetation and near the water’s edge where alligators like to hang out. You don’t want to catch an alligator on your line.

Plan Your Trip

It’s time to plan a trip to the river. Rent a hotel room or book a cottage at Castaways on the River to make your trip perfect. Once you step outside your room, there’s a variety of rental boats sitting in the marina waiting for you to cruise the river or go fishing. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3422 to plan your fishing trip on the river.

6 Must Make Pumpkin Fish Recipes for Fall

Pumpkin is the rage right now. Pumpkin everything is on grocery store shelves, in coffee and even corn chips! Why not combine your love of fishing with all things pumpkin? Pumpkin is a delicious squash that adds a lot of nutrition to your plate. If you’re ready, we have the six must make pumpkin fish recipes to turn your catches into fall season entrée masterpieces.

pumpkin fish recipes
We have the six must make pumpkin fish recipes to turn your catches into fall season entrée masterpieces.

Baked Fish With Pumpkin Curry Sauce

This is the time of year to reel in some large mouth bass in the St. Johns River. We have the fall bass fishing tips guide you need to prove it. Once you bring home that bass, ignite your taste buds with this baked fish with pumpkin curry sauce recipe courtesy of Budget Girl.

This recipe can also include a ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice if you want to kick the pumpkin in your recipe up a notch. The main course pairs nicely with some brussel sprouts as a vegetable and some pumpkin pie for dessert.

Pumpkin Risotto with Salmon

Add a pumpkin risotto recipe with any great fish dish to make a more fall festive dinner. Yummly’s Pumpkin Risotto with Fish and Cherry Tomato recipe creates a hearty meal with a Parmesan cheese mix twist. Serve immediately with fish, cherry tomatoes and a lemon wedge.

pumpkin fish recipes Pitnerest pin
Book a stay at Castaways on the River to catch some fillets for pumpkin fish recipes.

Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry

Looking for a pumpkin seafood recipe with some Southern charm? The Food Network’s Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry recipe satisfies your cravings. The recipe calls for shrimp and salmon fillets. This dish pairs nicely with a nice fresh loaf of French bread to sop up the flavorful curry at the bottom of your bowl.

Apple-Stuffed Baked Fish

Add some fall apples to your fish recipe! The Cooper Cookin’ Apple-Stuffed Baked Fish Recipe, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Everyday Cookbook Almanac, creates an apple-based stuffing that pairs well with a number of fish fillets.

Pumpkin Seed Fish Sticks

How about a fall take on the tried and true fish sticks? Yummly’s Pumpkin Seed Fish Sticks recipe allows you to toss in some pumpkin seeds along with your breading mixture to create a nice crunchy, fall fish stick.

pumpkin fish recipes soup
Fish fillets and seafood pair nicely in pumpkin-based stew and soups.

Pumpkin and Fish Stew

Seeking to enjoy some of your fresh fish on a cool day? Keep warm and enjoy fall with A Day in the Life on the Farm’s Pumpkin and Fish Stew Recipe. Fish fillets pair nicely in the pumpkin-based stew with tomatoes and chicken stock.

Book Your Fall Fishing Visit

Your fall fish recipes are in place and will excite and wow your friends and family. Now you need to book a stay at Castaways on the River to do some fishing and catch some fillets for those pumpkin fish recipes. The marina can handle all of your boat rental needs. We offer cozy cottages and motel rooms so you can enjoy fall on the St. Johns River while you go fishing. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and fishing adventure today.

Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Guide

North Central Florida hunting season is in full swing! The wildlife is abundant in the Ocala National Forest, where you will find plenty of turkeys, deer, ducks and more to hunt during the appropriate hunting season. We have the information you need to plan the perfect hunting trip in our Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Guide.

Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Guide deer photo
Follow our Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Guide to hunt white-tailed deer.

Hunting White-Tailed Deer

Florida White-tailed deer are located from the Panhandle all the way to the Florida Keys. They are the most popular game species in Florida. Here are the Florida deer hunting season requirements and dates.

Hunting Wild Pigs

Wild pigs, also called wild hogs or wild boar, are the second-most popular large animal hunted in Florida. They live in all of Florida’s 67 counties. Peruse pig hunting season dates before you start hunting wild pigs.

Duck/Waterfowl Hunting

Wetland habitats in Florida offer a variety of places for hunters to find duck and other waterfowl available for hunting.

Canada geese season in Florida is through Jan. 30. Duck and light geese hunting season begins Dec. 10 and runs through Jan. 29.

Hunting Florida Black Bears is Off Limits Right Now

The state’s largest land mammal is the Florida Black Bear. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted to postpone bear hunting in Florida in 2016 and might consider future bear hunting in 2017. The last limited Florida bear hunt was in October 2015.

There are more than 4,000 bears in Florida and many of them can be spotted in the Ocala National Forest for sightseeing only at a safe distance away.

Osceola turkey
One of the most sought-after species to hunt in Florida is the Osceola turkey

Hunting Osceola Turkeys

One of the most in-demand species to hunt in Florida is the Osceola (Florida) turkey. These turkeys do not live anywhere else in the world. Follow these Osceola turkey hunting requirements and seasonal hunting dates so you have the best chance of bringing home the bacon (or turkey)!

Hunting Small Game

You don’t always need to go big or go home. Florida has a variety of small-game hunting opportunities. Some of the most popular small game species in Florida include gray squirrels and rabbits.

Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Tips

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages the Ocala National Forest. Hunters must obtain a special permit to use hunt camps during deer hunting season in the Ocala National Forest. These permits can be picked up at the Lake George Ranger District Station or the Seminole Ranger District Station.

There is a $5 per day use fee to access the hunt camp and a $5 launch fee to use the boat ramp at Farles Lake Hunt Camp.

woman hunting
Find all the wildlife you need to hunt in the Ocala National Forest.

Florida Hunting Licenses

A valid Florida hunting license is needed to hunt in the Ocala National Forest. Hunters must adhere to all FWC hunting regulations. The FWC oversees the distribution of all recreational hunting licenses. Licenses for residents and non-residents are available with the FWC and can be purchased online.

Hunting licenses vary in price and are more expensive for non-residents, but you don’t always need a hunting license in Florida. If you are a child less than 16 years of age or hunting wild hogs on private land, a license isn’t needed.

Plan a Hunting Trip Along the St. Johns River

After an amazing day of hunting and watching wildlife in the Ocala National Forest, you will need a calm and relaxing place to stay. Make sure to spend some time enjoying the beautiful St. Johns River when you visit North Central Florida. Castaways on the River offers comfortable cottages and motel rooms just steps away from a marina full of rental boats for your use. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to book your next hunting trip adventure today!

St. Johns River Fun Facts

It’s BIG

The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida at a whopping 310 miles long.  It flows through 12 counties, moving from northeast Florida to the Atlantic Ocean.  At its largest point, the St. John’s River is almost 3 miles wide.


It is also separated into three river basins and two watersheds.  The Upper Basin of the St. Johns engulfs approximately 2,000 square miles, and the largest basin is the Lower Basin covering 2,600 square miles. Thanks to its massive size, the river transports about 16,000,000 tons of freight through the ports in Jacksonville, Fla. per year.

It Flows North

The vast majority of rivers in the world flow from north to south.  This is usually due to the river’s source, mostly mountains, is to the north of the mouth causing the water to flow downward.  However, it is said that fewer than 30 rivers in the United States are the exception to the rule and flow northward, including the St. John’s River.


The reasoning behind the unusual flow is the slight slope in the river itself.  Beginning in the Saint John’s Marsh, the rivers course slowly lowers about 30 feet to the mouth meeting the Atlantic Ocean.  This extremely gentle slope causes a very lazy river; it’s actually one of the slowest in the world.

It’s VERY Connected

About 3.5 million people live within the various watersheds that feed into the St. Johns River.  It’s the main water body in the St. Johns River Water Management District that covers about 21 percent of Florida or about 7.8 million acres.


It has a Salty Side

The St. Johns River begins as a network of marshes, consolidating into a blackwater stream.  This means that due to its groundwater and marsh beginnings, the River is predominately fresh water.



It’s not until the River hits the Jacksonville area that the water becomes brackish.  This is due to the sides pushing seawater into the mouth of the St. Johns River, creating a estuarine ecosystem in the area.  This means animals usually seen out to sea such as dolphins and sharks are sometimes found thriving here.

It has…monkeys?

Where the St. Johns River meets the Wekiva River, troops of Rhesus Monkeys can be found monkeying around.  Known for their adept swimming abilities, the origins of the Rhesus Monkeys transports remain unknown. However, several theories exist. Many believe they were brought in during the 1930’s filming of Tarzan. Whatever the case, they have adapted well to their new Florida home off the St.Johns River.


It’s Fun

There is never a shortage of fun in the sun on the St. Johns River, known as the most significant recreational river in Florida, and for good reason.


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. During the spring and summer months, visitors can enjoy clear waters for swimming, boating, and scuba diving along the river’s connected watersheds.WWW.CASTAWAYSONTHERIVER.COM (7)

Ashore, the St. Johns River Water Management District maintains approximately 700,000 acres of land for hiking, camping, hunting, biking and equestrian riding.

Blue Springs State Park

The St. Johns River is also linked to 14 lakes and numerous Florida Springs including Blue Spring State Park, a protected Manatee Refuge. During the winter season, hundreds of manatees inhabit the surface of the spring for onlookers to enjoy.



Boat Rentals on the St. Johns River

At Castaways on the River, we offer boat rentals at our Lake County location in Astor, FL. Looking to stay awhile? Rent a cool cottage or a motel room today at Castaways on the River, which is right on the St. Johns River.

Share your Favorite Spot

Do you have any favorite spots along the river? Leave a comment, below.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us! We’d love to hear from you.

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.