Monkeys who run around stealing candy, getting into parked cars and biting people should have a nice little island of their own where they can’t hurt people. They can bug each other but are out of harm’s way.
This could be a great model for our society as well: separate islands for each group of repeat offenders who refuse to change. Those who are cruel to animals, who abuse the elderly. Fat shamers. Chronic whiners and pessimists. Imagine the possibilities! The worst punishment would be spending their days forced to look at each other and get along; like looking in a mirror and seeing the true them.
But not a nice island like Monkey Island in Homosassa. Bare bones, eek-out-an-existance island for those scumbags.
The history of Homossasa, as in all of small town Florida, is fascinating and complicated. Starting with native Americans, and then with people named Cooley and Yulee forging ahead buying land and clearing it for trains and tourists. There is much more to it, of course, read about it here. The Beaches, Bars and Bungalows team was more curious about the history of Monkey Island.
In the 1950’s and ’60’s, a guy named Furgy Furguson who worked for the Norris Cattle Company was also busy putting together land deals that resulted in the Homosassa Wildlife State Park and much more. While away traveling for the cattle company, Furgy instructed a dragline operator to fix a dangerous pile of rocks lurking just below the river’s surface, that had been wreaking havoc on passing boats. “Just pile some dirt around those rocks to boaters can see them better” said Furgy. Apparently the dragline guy got a bit carried away, and when Furgy returned the “fix” had become a small island!
Furgy felt the need to dress up what he felt was an eyesore, so he built a small lighthouse.
Meanwhile downstream, at another venture of Furgy’s – a wildlife attraction (which later became the Homosassa Wildlife Park) a group of monkeys who were supposed to be attracting tourists were escaping and stealing candy, breaking into cars and biting people. These mischievous primates had been originally imported to “help improve the polio vaccine,” which, we’re thinking, screams “ANIMAL TESTING” and might require an Island of No Return for those scientists….
The Monkey Bar, overlooking Monkey Island
Bottom line, the island became the perfect “Alcatraz” for the monkeys, and their decendants still live there today. Under the care of the Homosassa Riverside Resort they’re fed healthy meals specifically designed for them, and their toys and climbing structures are changed or moved around as are their bowls, and even the grass heights and patterns are changed. A qualified primate veterinarian examines them regularly. Ralph, Sassy, Ebony, Eve, and Emily are living it up on the waterfront in Homosassa.
Homossasa is an excellent destination for lovers of boating, fishing, and exploring nature under a broad canopy of oak trees, magnolias and more. We love nature as much as the next guy, but as our focus is fun on the water, fun at a waterfront bar, and a fun little place to stay, we didn’t do any Manatee or bird watching on this visit.
MacRae’s Bait House – Boat rentals, boat docks, fishing tackle and bait. Motel rooms and The Shed Tiki Bar.
Magic Manatee Marina – Pontoon boat rentals and storage.
Riverside Resort – Boat rentals, boat tours, boat ramps, kayak and canoes, diving. Resort accomodations as well.
River Safaris and Gulf Charters – Airboat tours, manatee tours, scalloping and fishing, boat rentals.
10386 West Halls River Road
- VIBE: Clean and bright, modern. Friendly and very efficient service.
- ARRIVE: By boat or by car.
- SIT: Inside in the large dining room, on the screened patio, or outside on the spacious deck and tiki bar.
- SIP: Happy Hour Monday through Thursday 4 – 6 p.m.
- NOSH: Some atypical appetizers like pierogies and fried green beans! The burger and homemade potato chips were top-notch. Make note there are separate menus for inside and out. Click on their name above for more info and full menus.
- LISTEN: Live music Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- WE LOVE: Being right on the water – that view! And, The Seagrass is right down the street from “our” bungalow for the night.
10606 Halls River Road
This is a first for us – the place we choose as The Bungalow is now FOR SALE. (Were we those cliche horrible renters? I didn’t think we left anything gross in the bathroom trash… and we washed our dishes, I swear…)
When Mom was still alive she and I were kind of secretly combing the real estate sites for a compound. A place where we could all live side by side but have our own four walls and our own kitchen to mess up to whatever degree we each felt like. We could all gather at night by the water, sisters, brothers, everyone’s kids, and toast the sunset. Laugh about all the stupid stuff we did growing up. But we wouldn’t be kept awake by Dad’s snoring or bored by Mom’s soaps. Life would be as it should be.
Mom is gone now and Dad is all set, so we’re not looking for a compound anymore. But you still can. Bring your whole tribe. Schedule seminars, reunions, retreats. Teach the grandkids to fish, watch the manatees, get your sedentary husband out on a SUP board. Imagine the possibilities!
Or continue its legacy as a rustic, peaceful old-Florida fish camp.
Homosassa River Retreat is still renting out their adorable cottages – call Jeff to book your stay.
- VIBE: Tranquil, private, shaded by many huge trees.
- WALK: You can walk to The Bar – The Seagrass Waterfront Restaurant – but the road is narrow and bendy so we would advise driving. The main street area of Homosassa, with shops and restaurants, is also a short drive away.
- DECOR: Simple, clean.
- SLEEP: Comfy mattress, basic sheets. We had just two pillows, so I couldn’t “prop,” but I’m sure I could have gotten more had I asked the owner.
- EXTRAS: All cottages have fully equipped kitchens, A/C and cable t.v. Our cottage, the Bait House, had a cool “tiki” type bar separating the kitchen and living room, which came in handy and also gave a “it’s party time” vacationy feel.
- RATES: Our cottage, being direct waterfront, was at their upper end rate at $120 a night. Other one bedroom cottages are as low as $80. Two 2-bedroom cottages are also available.
- WE LOVE: The cottages are PINK!!! And so cute. I know – most “fish camp” regulars might not see this as something to love. Which is another reason to love the pink. Also, the owner, Jeff, is interesting, knowledgeable about the area and fishing, and made us laugh.
For more info about purchasing your family compound/fish camp, visit Jacob Real Estate Services, here.
More of this fishing, boating, Monkey Island town:
The Shed – MacRae’s Tiki Bar
MacRae’s also offers hotel accommodations, click here
I didn’t realize when I took this photo how much this statement illustrates Homosassa’s way of life. Keep it simple…. living island style…
And if you do buy the fish camp, I’ll be happy for you. A tiny bit envious (Mom would have loved it for us) – but happy for you.
Homosassa is on Florida’s west coast, on the Homosassa River that runs into the Gulf of Mexico, 43 miles south west of Ocala and 73 miles north of Tampa.