Diving in at Blue Springs

Published: 12/4/14 10:42 PM in North America, State, Travel.
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The sun was up, the air was crisp, and the water was crystal clear. It was a perfect day to venture 35 miles out of Orlando to spend the morning at Blue Springs State Park. So that is exactly what Kevin and I did on a late October weekend spent in Orlando, Florida with friends.

About Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park encompasses 2,600 acres of camping facilities and nature trails surrounding the largest spring along the St. Johns River. From November to March no swimming or other water activities are permitted in the spring run since Blue Springs is a refuge for the West Indian Manatee. The constant 72 degree water temperature becomes a warm and gentle playground for the manatees as the water of the St. Johns River dips in the colder months. This makes the park a prime spot for manatee sightings as they crowd into the spring run.

However during the rest of the year the water spots at Blue Springs are well worth the visit. The cool waters can be quite a shock on a warm day, but once submerged, they become extremely refreshing. The swimming area is very large which allows for personal space among the many visitors that visit the park on a given day.

The clear waters of Blue Springs are perfect for a refreshing swim.

Kevin Banogon and Lauren Branzei pose for a picture along the boardwalk at Blue Springs State Park.

A calm morning at Blue Springs State Park allows for plenty of manatee sitings.

A man kayaking around the manatees of Blue Springs State Park.


A Trip to Blue Springs with Friends

The morning we ventured out to Blue Springs State Park the air had a crisp chill. The kind that makes walking along the shaded boardwalks slightly cold while a walk in the unimpeded sun was extremely pleasant in a way Floridians are not use to. The drive to Blue Springs from the Winter Park area, where we stayed for the weekend, was an easy 30 to 40 minute drive into the lake country that surrounds metropolitan Orlando.

We arrived early enough that the park’s grounds were only sparsely populated and the spring was only occupied by early morning scuba divers diving into the depths of the Blue Springs Cave. The lower temperatures as well as the soft early morning sun has us deciding to spend the first half of our visit exploring the area on foot. The soft morning light also caused the typically crystal clear waters of Blue Springs to become highly reflective and made it impossible to see the manatees in the spring run. However the light enhanced the beauty of the nature surrounding the spring which has been allowed to grow naturally with very little modification made for visitors.


Meredith Lambert, Kevin Banogon, and Lauren Branzei pose in front of Blue Springs before swimming in it's depths.

The calm clear water of Blue Springs is very reflective in the morning light.

Large oak trees reach over your head and dip down into the cool waters of Blue Springs State Park.

The Thursby House at Blue Springs State Park in its full glory.


The Thursby House at Blue Springs

Near the entrance, sitting at the start of an expansive field, is the Thursby House. This white, three-story structure served as the home for Louis P. Thursby, the former owner of the land that now makes up Blue Springs State Park. The house was originally constructed as a two story home in 1872 and the third story was added in 1900 by Thursby’s son. The entire home still stands in excellent condition and is well maintained due to its inclusion to the US National Register of Historic Places in 2000.


A gorgeous day for an Orlando day trip to Blue Springs State Park in the fall.

Beautiful spanish moss hangs from a large oak tree outside of the Thursby House at Blue Springs.

Looking up at the spanish moss on an oak tree with Kevin Banogon.

Meredith Lambert and Kevin Banogon in a small hallway in the Thursby House at Blue Springs.

Lauren Branzei in a small hallway in the Thursby House in Blue Springs State Park.

Lauren Branzei looking cute at Blue Springs State Park outside the Thursby House.


It is extremely easy to visit the Thursby House during a trip to Blue Springs State Park. The house is open for visitors during park hours and entering is as easy as walking straight though the front door. The house contains little displays explaining the history of the site and the family that lived there. The house also allowed for some great photo opportunities as the lighting was soft and even throughout the interior.


Blue skies above the Thursby House at Blue Springs State Park, a quick day trip outside of Orlando.

Looking up at the trees in Blue Springs State Park in Orlando, Florida.

Swimming in the crystal clear waters of Blue Springs State Park is a refreshing break from the Florida sun.


Swimming in the Crystal Clear Water of Blue Springs

After spending the morning exploring the the drier parts of Blue Springs State Park, it was time to experience the infamous water for ourselves! So we bathing suited up and dove into the cool, clear water. Now 72 degree water may sound like a perfectly warm temperature to the majority of the population use to swimming in melted glaciers from the surrounding mountains. However, to three people typically wading out into the warm bathwater-like waves of the Gulf of Mexico, spring water is always a wake up call!

Yet once you get in, it is hard to get out. The current is gentle and easy to go against as you swim toward the mouth of the cavern where the spring water originates. As you approach the mouth, the spring run gets deeper and opens up into a wide circle where fallen trees serve as perches to rest and watch other swimmers. There is plenty of room for visitors to enjoy the water and not be in each other’s way. While watching different swimmers dive toward the opening is both fun and, in some cases, awe-inspiring.


Meredith Lambert, Kevin Banogon, and Lauren Branzei pose for a GoPro selfie in the waters of Blue Springs.

The underwater world of Blue Springs State Park is peaceful and quiet.

Swimmers take a break on a fallen tree in the cool waters of Blue Springs.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei do an underwater pose at Blue Springs State Park.


Diving to the cave opening is not too hard for any typical swimmer, but staying down there is a different story. Since the water current is being pushed up from the cavern system, the pressure experienced as you dive can be very uncomfortable. Therefore in order to stay down you mush be able to equalize while you descend. This is something an average swimmer may not be accustomed to doing. The most impressive dive we saw during our visit was a man filming/photographing the cave entrance. He dove down and then stayed down there for a quite a number of minutes while he set up his equipment. We mostly dived down to come right back up.

All-in-all we had a fantastic time visiting Blue Spring State Park and would definitely return. Visiting any one of the Florida Springs is always a great time and is a great alternative to the beach. If you haven’t already, check out our past trip to Juniper Springs!


Blue Springs is a large and natural spring only a half an hour outside of Orlando.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei enjoy the sun after a day of swimming in the cool water of Blue Springs.

Meredith Lambert and Kevin Banogon celebrate a fantastic day at Blue Springs State Park.

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