The Villa is not a modern house on a bland housing development. When the owners decided to buy a retirement home in Florida some years ago, they carried out an exhaustive examination of alternatives in central Florida and the more southerly Gulf Coast but finally they purchased this waterfront property on the Nature Coast in beautiful Crystal River.
Real Estate agents say that the three most important aspects which affect house pricing are location, location and location, if this is the case then this villa must be almost priceless.
North Palm Springs Terrace is a row of individually designed properties backing onto a natural spring. The woodland to the front of the houses and on the other side of the waterway is zoned to protect it from development hence all the properties are very private with only neighbours on either side. The loudest noise you hear is likely to be birdsong from the wooded areas.
The waterway is tidal (the Gulf of Mexico is only 7 miles away down the Crystal River) but is always navigable for pleasure craft.
The water is fresh since it is fed by the spring and there is prolific fish life present. Bass, needle fish, mullet catfish even trout are present. The fish life provides an ideal environment for birds and various diving birds are constantly searching for food (indeed the owners love to watch the egrets and heron stalking, the kingfishers diving all whilst they are drinking the first coffee of the day).
In addition to the extensive accommodation the villa has a screen room which runs the full length of the back of the house. This overlooks the waterway and allows a perfect view of the waterway activity. An electric grill has been installed in the screen room to allow 'out-door' cooking even in inclement weather.
Turtles are very often seen and the manatee visit, normally when the tide is coming in. On occasion dolphins come to feed on the high tide.
Attached to the screen room is a fully screened pool, to cool off at the end of the day. The pool is separated from the screen room by a lockable door for safety of young children. Pool heating is available at an extra cost for the few days in the year when heating is necessary in Florida (please note pool heating is not available for November to February stays).
Between the villa and the pool is a patio area with BBQ. This is a super sun trap for sun worshippers and two sun loungers are provided.
A sea wall with moorings runs the full length of the property and is even equipped with a boat slip, boats of all sizes can be rented at several places (the nearest being Plantation Inn).
A large canoe and two kayaks are provided for the use of guests so they can fully experience the magnificent surroundings.
Around 300 feet away the waterway joins the magnificent Kings Bay. This is also fresh water fed by large natural springs. The water temperature is stable throughout the year at around 72 degrees due to the springs. This explains the fact that Crystal River is home to the largest number of manatee in the US, since as soon as the water temperature in the Gulf starts to fall the manatee head for Kings Bay.
Manatee viewing trips are available, as are guided snorkelling or scuba trips, however there are so many manatee in the Bay during the season that they can be seen from bridges, boats or even our yard. Swimming with the manatee is increasing in popularity and during the winter months there are several areas that can not be entered to protect the gentle giants. Crystal River is the only place in America where it is legal to swim with the manatee.
The fishing in the area is spectacular. Trout, snapper and redfish are abundant in the Bay and inshore, whilst off-shore grouper, tarpon and even shark are available. There are many professional guides who specialise in fishing trips.
Boats can be hired from several places in Crystal River but if you decide to bring your own then there is a free communal ramp at Pete’s Pier with additional free ramps on Fort Island Trail, our dock is big enough for boats up to about 22 feet. There is ample room for temporary trailer storage in front of the villa. Please note that we only allow one boat per party, additional boats are only allowed with our written permission.
The furnishings have been selected, not as the minimum acceptable for rentals, but to the owners exacting standards for their own use.
The home has been extensively redecorated. All new furniture has been installed at the same time including the living room, family room, dining area, all three bedrooms and screen room.
New screens have been installed over the pool and screen room and the window screens have been renewed.
The air-conditioning has been completely renewed and a new pool heater installed.
The villa has been equipped with a WiFi network connected via the cable network. Bring your laptop and stay in touch.
The nearest major airport is Tampa International which is around 70 minutes away but the Orlando Airports are only a little further.
If the local attractions of the Nature Coast are insufficient, Disney, Universal Studios and the other theme parks in Orlando are only 90 minutes away and Busch Gardens in Tampa is even closer, around 75 minutes via the Suncoast Parkway.
We arrived to find a well maintained and very clean home. The facilities were excellent, just like being at home.
They were exactly as described and very comfortable. We have travelled extensively around the USA and Canada and always stay in private homes. This has been our best experience so far. Every thing you could want and more beside. The florida room and the pool were just great and sometimes we had to drag ourselves away as we so absorbed with the wildlife.
Within minutes of arrival and whilst looking around we watched an osprey fly past, catch a fish and perch opposite to eat it. It was then disturbed by a red shouldered hawk. How great is that. We also saw racoons, otters, manatee, shoals of fish and lots more birds.
The neighbours were fab and helped us with our attempts to fish of the sea wall. They caught some awesome fish. We hired a boat for two days and tootled around Kings bay, saw great wildlife here too. Went swimming with the manatees with Captain Mike, an experience not to forget, boating down the to the springs in the early morning with the mist on the river, it was a very special day and one we will all remember .We saw lots of manantees too.
We visited the Homassa Wild life park, which has greatly improved since we came a few years ago, a good day out. We also went to Rainbow Springs and Cedar key, two other super excursions. Driving down to the beach to watch the beautiful sunsets was also another great pastime, as was watching the dolphins in the bay. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Our Dream and would love to return sometime in the near future.
JW, Oldham, UK
Peter is a retired Mining Engineer. After some years managing coalmines he moved into the equipment supply industry and spent the rest of his career selling mining equipment throughout the world.
Ann is also retired. After a spell in the Royal Navy she concentrated on raising our family. Once the boys left home she went to University and obtained her BA, she then went on to obtain her Masters.
Some years before retiring we started looking for somewhere to spend the Winter months. We were lucky to find Crystal River while on a golfing holiday in Florida. We fell in love with the area which we think is unique.
We were even luckier to find our Villa which has a fabulous setting in a quiet private area at the south end of Kingss Bay but is still close to shops and restaurants.
Having wintered in Crystal River for 7 years our views have not changed.
Crystal River is the only place in the USA where you can legally swim with the manatee.