OZELLO, FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller Updated August 7, 2023

Ozello, Florida is on Florida's west coast between Crystal River and Homosassa.  Although it is not incorporated, it is a tight knit little community of about 400 people.

A Google Aerial View of Ozello, Crystal River, and HomosassaA Google Aerial View of Ozello, Crystal River, and Homosassa

That's not many people unless you compare it to the 49 people who lived there back in 1910.

Most residents of modern times pronounce their little town "Ozella."

Ozello is the general name for a series of small keys that are connected by a winding road known as The Ozello Trail.

The trail is designated on the maps as Country Road 494, and extends west from US-19 south of Crystal River.

A View From The Ozello TrailA View From The Ozello Trail

The Trail is a curvy road that meanders for 10 miles through the salt marshes to the furthermost point of Ozello.  Motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts love this lightly traveled paved road.

Ozello was recognized for many years as "The Isle of Knowledge" featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not cartoons.  The isle referred to the small key where the schoolhouse was located.

Ozello Island School by Epie BoatrightOzello Island School by Epie Boatright

Local children in the early days rowed a boat to school;  in more modern times they were picked up by a school boat.

The old schoolhouse no longer exists.  Kids today go to school on the mainland.

The community's isolation is probably preserved forever because of its location adjacent to the 23,000 acre St. Martin's Aquatic Preserve

The preserve is owned by the State of Florida and managed by the state's Department of Natural Resources. 

Ozello Residential CanalOzello Residential Canal

Residents and visitors to Ozello are water oriented.  Fishing and nature watching are popular.

You will see a fair number of kayaks, small motor boats, and air boats.  Some of the keys have canals and people keep a boat behind their house.

Ozello Island ChurchOzello Island Church

The center of Ozello is noted for its small civic club, church, fire department, and water tower.  Several businesses offer boat tours and rentals.

Captain Harvey's Redneck Tours SignCaptain Harvey's Redneck Tours Sign

The elevation of most of Ozello is only about three feet above sea level.  Most newer homes are built on columns to elevate them several feet above ground level.

Ozello HomesOzello Homes

Ozello has a water system, but no sewer system. 

All homes and business are serviced by septic tanks that have to be elevated above the groundwater table. That's the grassy mound you see in the photos of the houses above.

There are three nice restaurants with the Old Florida feel in Ozello.  It is amazing to find this kind of good food and ambiance in such a small community.

Backwater Fins RestaurantBackwater Fins Restaurant

The first one you will see on your left as you come into Ozello is Backwater Fins Restaurant.  It is a casual place with good seafood and both inside and outside dining. 

Island Outpost RestaurantIsland Outpost Restaurant

The next one on the right looks like a convenience store but is also a nice barbecue, shrimp, and wings place called Island Outpost with both inside and outside dining.  

Peck's Old Port Cove RestaurantPeck's Old Port Cove Restaurant

Further down the road, near its end, you will find Peck's Old Port Cove Seafood Restaurant.  It has great seafood and both inside and outside dining.

Ozello Birdseye View Courtesy of NatureCoaster.comOzello Birdseye View Courtesy of NatureCoaster.com

The birdseye view above shows you what the very end of Ozello Trail looks like. 

The small sandy area in the upper right is a community park and boat ramp. 

The day I was there the park had a very welcome porta john.


RECOMMENDED OZELLO RESTAURANT

PECK'S OLD PORT COVE

139 North Ozello Trail
Crystal River, FL 34429
Tel: 352-795-2806

Peck's Old Port Cove has a Crystal River address but is actually in Ozello, a small village at the end of a long road that begins on US-19 between Crystal River and Homosassa on Florida's west coast.

The 10 mile long meandering road through the salt marshes is a favorite drive for bikers and sports car enthusiasts.

It is also a favorite drive for seafood lovers.

Read more about Peck's Old Port Cove.


THINGS TO DO IN OZELLO, FLORIDA

Ozello Boats  
2355 S Ripple Path, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 228-8095 
 
Rent a kayak or a small boat from Ozello Boats and explore the meandering water trails that snake through the mangrove tunnels.

We enjoy paddling at our own pace, spotting wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and a wide variety of birds. It's a serene way to experience the natural beauty of this secluded area. 
 
Ozello Community Park  
398 N Pirate Point, Crystal River, FL 34429  
 
This community park is a great spot for a family picnic with its waterfront views and basic amenities. We love using the park as a starting point for a day of fishing. 

Simply relaxing by the water’s edge is another favorite activity. Picnic tables are available. Dogs are allowed. 

Ozello Keys Marina  
2355 S Ripple Rd, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 228-8095 
 
Rent a boat or get your fishing supplies at Ozello Keys Marina. Visitors love starting their fishing trips from here because of their friendly service and knowledgeable staff who are always ready to help you make the most of your fishing adventure. 

Crystal River Archaeological State Park  
3400 N Museum Point, Crystal River, FL 34428 | (352) 795-3817 
 
A short drive from Ozello, this state park is a pre-Columbian, Native American site. We enjoy walking through the park and visiting the museum to learn about the area's ancient inhabitants and their way of life. 

Salt River Outfitters  
963 N Gardenview Ter, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 427-3610 
 
Book a hunting or fishing charter with Salt River Outfitters. A favorite is their guided scalloping trips, where you can dive into the clear waters and collect scallops during the season. It’s a fun and rewarding experience for all ages. 

St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve 
3266 N Sailboat Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428 | (352) 228-6028 

The St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve, as discussed earlier on this page, is a treasure along Florida's Springs Coast, offering numerous activities for those eager to engage with the natural world.  
 
Popular activities such as boating, kayaking, fishing, and scalloping provide vibrant ways to explore the preserve. Even without a boat, visitors can experience the marsh up close thanks to the trails at Crystal River Preserve State Park, which lead to the marsh and shoreline.  
 
Both fishing and bird watching are favorite activities from the land or water. For those looking to dive into the aquatic environment, snorkeling and scuba diving are excellent choices, especially given the clarity of the waters, which is enhanced by several nearby springs. 

Capt Harvey's Redneck Tours 
139 North Ozello Trail, Ozello, FL | (352) 212-1455 

As mentioned and pictured briefly earlier, here is the contact information for you. Airboat Tours, Scallop Tours, Manatee Tours and Guided Duck Hunts are offered. Call for details. 

Backwater Fins 
13982 W Ozello Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 794-6000 
 
As mentioned and pictured earlier on this page, here is the contact information for you. Although it says Crystal River, it’s actually in Ozello.

Backwater Fins offers a casual dining experience right on the water. We enjoy their outdoor seating area where live music and delicious local dishes create a perfect evening atmosphere.   
 
Island Outpost 
14231 W Ozello Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 | (352) 795-1880 
 
As mentioned and pictured earlier on this page, here is the contact information for you. Although it says Crystal River, it’s actually in Ozello. 


INTERACTIVE MAP OF OZELLO, FLORIDA




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