Swim with Manatees in Blue Spring State Park

Added by Lara Paul

Snorkel and go tubing down the spring in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a happy manatee in it's natural habitat.

Located near Orange City, Florida, Blue Spring State Park is the largest spring on St. Johns River.  Here you can come in and rent full snorkel gear (snorkel, mask, flippers), tubes to lazy river down if that's more your style and many other activities.  At the website you can see all that the park has to offer.  

We drove in and it was $6 per car to enter the park.  Follow the signs and you will reach a spacious parking lot.  The park has many picnic areas under trees and a section under a large pavilion.  There are also grills available to cook throughout the picnicking areas.    If you forget food though, there is a "Camp Deli" where you can purchase some food.  The other building is the Rental Station and Camp Gift Store.  

We rented snorkeling equipment and tubes.  At only $5 per hour (and then $2.50 every additional hour) it's super reasonably priced.  There are also lockers for rent to place your valuables into.  Once we were situated, we went down the walkway and off the ramp into the spring.  The water was the perfect temperature.  It was cool enough to save us from the Florida heat, but not too cold.

About 30 minutes into a casual snorkeling session, looking at all the different types of fish and wildlife the spring had to offer, someone yelled to us "a manatee is coming your way!"  So of course, I was giddy with excitement and sure enough, one large and terrific manatee was just casually swimming down stream.  We watched him as he eventually crossed over the line into the refuge.  It was amazing seeing him in his natural environment.  During the winter season (November - March) the spring is closed to swimming as the spring acts as a manatee refuge, but if you're lucky they sometimes swim around during the off seasons.

After snorkeling for about an hour, we decided to get our tubes and walk to a separate entrance farther upstream so that we could lazy river back down.  At this other entrance, there was a large alcove where the spring started.  Here there was a mini cave of sorts you could go into, in addition to an underwater cave in the middle of the alcove.  After a bit of exploring there, we finally decided to float back downstream and we concluded our trip with a nice picnic under the pavilion and a trip to the gift shop where you can watch the Manatee Cam. 

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Tags

Canoeing
Chillin
Fishing
Photography
Kayaking
Swimming
Diving
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Hot Springs
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome diving!

Great place to dive!!

Kayaking Blue Springs

Went during the end of December on a cloudy day, arrived around 10am, park wasn't very crowded and had no problem getting kayak rentals. Saw a few manatees but couldn't get very close to them on the kayaks, better views of them from the shore. On the kayaks you could see lots of greenery and explore the lagoons and wide open channels. Didn't look quite like the pictures, probably because it was a cloudy day, and we didn't see anyone swimming in the section we were in. Overall a cute little state park!

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