Take A Virtual Vacation to Steinhatchee, A Jewel In Natural North Florida’s Taylor County Coast

Take A Break and Take a Virtual Vacation in Natural North Florida

Spring 2020 has brought a slowdown to Florida tourism, and tourism worldwide.. Our Visit Natural North Florida region has slowed, too, and with the restrictions of social distancing and travel we’re all dreaming of better times to come. And we hope that potential visitors, from near and far, take care of themselves, and dream of coming to visit us when the “fever” breaks. In the meantime, take some time to peruse our special “edition” of Virtual Vacations in Natural North Florida. This post is the fifth in that series. More, featuring highlights of our 15-county region will follow, each including links to local highlights, where “Nature Is Our Theme Park

The Gulf coastline at Steinhatchee is virtually uninhabited, making it an excellent fishing destination

First things first–Steinhatchee is pronounced STEEN-hatchee, not STINE-hatchee. If you use the “Stine” pronunciation, locals will immediately know you’re an outsider. No matter though, as many folks at Steinhatchee are outsiders anyway.

Located just up the coastline from Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee is closer to both US Highway 19/98 and South Georgia than are Cedar Key, Suwannee, and Horseshoe Beach. And, while many of Florida’s other coastal towns attract visitors from adjacent states, Steinhatchee has become a strong magnet for out-of-towners wanting to fish, scallop or just enjoy the Gulf coastline. For good reason, too, as Steinhatchee provides easy access to relatively unspoiled rocky shoreline and deep offshore waters.

The Sea Hag Marina is on the Steinhatchee side of the river and is the town’s largest marina.
River Haven Marina is also on the north side of the river at Steinhatchee
A summer tradition: refreshments at the Sea Hag Tiki Bar

The town of Steinhatchee occupies the northern side of the Steinhatchee River in Taylor County. On the southern side, in Dixie County, the small town of Jena is less settled but growing quickly. Real-estate development has reduced the number of marinas, but the remaining ones are all excellent, some with full services.

The summertime bay scallop harvest at Steinhatchee is one of the biggest events of the year. It typically lasts from June to September. Click HERE to read more about bay scallops harvesting in Florida.

Sea trout are the staple at Steinhatchee for inshore fishermen, with redfish taking a close second. Trout are found in all sizes and at all depths throughout the spring, summer, and fall. They move into the creeks and the river during the cold winter months, generally fattened and ready to spawn. Reds are found close to shore all year, with fall and spring the best seasons, particularly for fly fishermen, who prefer to see their prey. In the springtime and throughout the summer, invading schools of Spanish mackerel and bluefish will steal their share of light leaders and lures from trout and redfish anglers. Flounder are plentiful along the edges of rocky bars and are easily targeted. Cobia, usually considered an offshore species, are sometimes found cruising the flats and channel markers in the warmer months. And an occasional tarpon, moving northward from warm southern gulf waters in late spring or summer, will be seen, but the species is rarely targeted here

Redfish are popular sport fish at Steinhatchee
Fighting a big Steinhatchee seatrout
If it’s bitter cold, the best bet for Steinhatchee seatrout is in the river.

While its heritage is rooted in seafood, Steinhatchee is about more than fishing. With the arrival of anglers and their families, the “restaurant scene” at Steinhatchee has changed. There are now many excellent choices, from pizza and sandwiches to fine dining.

*Fiddler’s and Kathi’s are both remodeling and will be open by summer!
Seafood and southern specialties are on lots of Steinhatchee menus!
May 15 to November 15–Stone Crab Season
!The Who Dat Bar and Grille is across the river, in Jena at Good Times Marina.. Great lunches and dinners. Beer, too.
February’s annual Fiddler Crab Festival is all about, arts, crafts–and plenty of good eats!

The natural beauty of Steinhatchee and Taylor County is an option for what’s normally a busy river, at least near the Gulf of Mexico. The river is spring-fed, but stays dark with tannin most of the year due to rainwater leaching out of the swamps and feeder creeks.

To see the upper river, take a drive up CR251 towards US19 at Tennille and visit Steinhatchee Falls. Pretty, but it’s not Niagara Falls!
Kayaking the Steinhatchee River, particularly upstream, is a fun activity for “kids” of all ages

Finally, a few words of wisdom apply to Steinhatchee visitors. While there are many options from small motels (Sea Hag Marina, Good Times Marina and River Haven Marina) to VRBO and AirBnB homes, many of the local condos and private homes are available through local realtors We do urge you to plan ahead, as lodgings book up early, especially in advance of the busy summer months.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of Steinhatchee and its tourism offerings. And we hope you’ll add Steinhatchee, Taylor County and our Natural North Florida region to your list of places to visit soon.