One of our most popular tours is in the St. Martins Marsh Back Country. Located in an
isolated coastal area half way between Crystal River and Homosassa, there lies the small settlement
called Ozello. 23,000 acres of the surrounding waters and mangrove islands make up the
St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve. The 23,000 acre St. Martins Marsh was designated as one of the original Aquatic Preserves in 1969because of its pristine nature.To further protect the pristine water quality, the
State of Florida established the Crystal River Preserve State Park which is a remnant of the Florida coastline that has changed little since Europeans arrived 500 years ago.
The preserve covers more than 27,500 acres of scrub, pinewoods, hardwood forests,
salt marshes and mangrove islands. Management of the property was transferred to the
Florida Park Service in July 2004. Several of the larger parcels added to the park over
the years were acquired from families that homesteaded in the county. One tract was
part of the turpentine industry in the early 1900s. Much of the property is still untouched,
allowing visitors a glimpse at what this area of Florida looked like centuries ago.
Uncrowded and unspoiled, it is one of our best places to paddle. It rivals anything the
Florida Keys has to offer The tour leaves from the Ozello area, deep in the heart of
the preserve. We explore islands, middens, creeks and sand bars in loop routes that can
cover anywhere from 3 to 5 miles during our 3 hours on the water.
We may encounter sea turtles, rays, dolphins, and manatees in the warmer months and white pelicans and
bald eagles during the winter migration.
The one thing you won't see is lots of other people, making it our favorite place.
Public Back Country Tours (Participants must be at least 13 years of age). $ 50 pp pt.
Private Back Country Tours (No age limit). $100 pp pt.
Kid'a Back Country Tours for families with children 12 and under. $ 65 pp pt.