Central Florida is a lush and lovely area for freshwater lakes and all the recreation that comes with them. There’s fishing, birdwatching, hikes through nature preserves, and of course, boating. More than 900,000 boats are registered to owners in Florida, and those aren’t just sea vessels on the coast.
When your Florida retirement plans include spending time on the water, you’ll need to find a home that can accommodate both your boat and your desire to easily launch it into the water. For those who love to fish, Central Florida is famous for its largemouth bass and other native fish that are fun to catch including sunshine bass, catfish, bluegill, and bream.
Plenty of lakes throughout the region provide parks and public boat ramps. It’s also possible to find some Florida real estate that has private water access. Here are three communities in Central Florida that are so excited about boating, they provide access to lakes and a lifestyle to match any active adult’s "yacht rock" playlist.
Mid $100s - Low $400s
Little Lake Harris is found at Royal Harbor, a 55+ community in Tavares with single-family homes and direct access to the lake for boats and anglers. There’s a fishing pier and a community dock as well as plenty of parking for boats and RVs. Little Lake Harris provides a natural and calm backdrop for boating, and it’s only one lake in a larger chain of lakes throughout the county. Residents may want to take the boat out to explore other local lakes such as Big Lake Harris, Lake Dora, Griffin Lake, Eustis Lake, Lake Carlton, and Lake Beauclair. A map is available from Lake County offices.
While at Royal Harbor, residents can also enjoy amenities such as a lighthouse and a screened pool. There are horseshoe pits, tennis courts, and a picnic pavilion. The clubhouse includes a fitness center, a multi-purpose room, a library, a computer center, a card room, and space for billiards. A full-time activities director plans things like monthly art stolls, trivia nights, and line dancing classes.
More than 60 models and floor plans are available, and buyers have the opportunity to choose something as small as a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home or as large as a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home. The homes range from 1,013 to more than 2,700 square feet, and all of them come with attached two-car garages. Some homes have extra space for a den or an office and additional garage space to park a golf cart or maybe a motorcycle.
Low $100s - High $200s
The boat ramp at Tomoka Heights takes residents out onto Lake Henry, where a fishing trip might result in finding bluegill, crappie, and bowfin. Access to the 64-acre lake is just one of the amenities at this gated 55+ community. There’s also a fishing dock, pavilions, and several walking and biking trails that pass over ponds and through natural landscaping. Residents have access to an outdoor pool and spa, three shuffleboard courts, a tennis court, and a bocce ball court. Inside the clubhouse, there’s a multi-purpose room, a library, and a computer center. Community events include holiday parties, Saturday morning breakfast gatherings, and a book club.
Because there are only 460 attached and single-family homes, the community has a neighborly, intimate feel. Most of the homes have two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and attached two-car garages. Square footage ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet. Many of the resale properties also have Florida rooms, upgrades such as hardwood floors and granite counters, and gourmet cooking kitchens.
Tomoka Heights is just a few minutes from Lake-June-In-Winter, which has a public boat ramp and is known for its coves and connections to other lakes. It’s bordered by the Lake-June-in-Winter Scrub State Park, where it’s possible to hike, kayak, and seek out the endemic Florida scrub jay or a gopher tortoise.
Mid $100s - High $100s
Boating on Tsala Apopka Lake is a popular activity among residents at Arbor Lakes, a 55+ community in Hernando. This part of Central Florida is especially desirable for anyone who loves the water. Ocala and its natural springs are about 40 minutes away, and the Gulf of Mexico is only half an hour to the west. The Withlacoochee River is also nearby, with nearly 50 miles of swamp, marsh, and wetlands that are great for hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching.
Tsala Apopka Lake is part of a larger chain of lakes that cover 19,000 acres. Its proximity to historic Florida towns like Inverness and Floral City makes it an interesting place to visit. Residents at Arbor Lakes can take advantage of the boat ramp, use the fishing pier, and enjoy ample boat parking within the community. It’s a small neighborhood of only 370 homes.
Single-family homes at Arbor Lakes are affordable and available on a resale basis. They have 1,138 to 3,104 square feet with two to three bedrooms and one to three bathrooms. Attached two-car garages are standard, and most homes have fireplaces, eat-in breakfast bars, and a bonus Florida room. The HOA is active, providing a low-maintenance lifestyle. Residents don’t have to worry about trash collection, road maintenance, street lights, or security. For an additional fee, the HOA will also take care of lawn care and paint the exterior of the house every seven years.
While the focus is clearly on boating, fishing, and other waterside activities, residents at Arbor Lakes can also use the clubhouse with a full kitchen and meeting rooms. There’s also an exercise room and an outdoor pool with a patio. Four shuffleboard courts, a tennis court, and a boardwalk all make it easy to enjoy the outdoors in this community.