Blue Springs Crystal Clear Water and Manatee Refuge

boardwalk at Blue Springs

Blue Springs is one of Florida’s many state parks. It is known for it’s crystal clear swimming water, in season. It’s also a place where manatees take refuge during winter months (November to March). When the manatees call it home, there is no swimming.

Located in Orange City, I’ve been to this Spring quite a few times, but that was years ago. Now I don’t live so close, but we traveled there recently by boat, down the St. John’s River.

The Park was a busy place with kayak rentals and people lined up to take a river cruise. We came in by boat, which is free.  Just find a spot (the area is not all that big), tie off to a tree and head into the park.

boats docked at blue springs state park
Parked on the water at Blue Springs

After winding our way through tourists and finding the bathroom, we headed up the boardwalk to see if there were manatees around. I was half hoping to be able to swim, but didn’t think it was allowed because of the manatees. I was right. The place was closed to swimmers.
And we didn’t see any manatees. Which was fine. We see them all the time out on the Indian River which is where we usually go boating.

boardwalk at Blue Springs
Viewing area, which is also the swimming area in season.

The Thursby House is still standing. I never know what to expect when I visit places because they change so much. It seems that everywhere has to continually expand and grow in this state to accommodate the influx of people.

Thursby House
Thursby House at Blue Springs State Park

Now I guess you can take a self-guided tour of this historic home, whereas no one got to go inside before. We could look through the windows only.

Blue Springs
Blue Springs clear green water

The water is a beautiful green color and crystal clear. We saw lots of big fish. The water temperature out in the river was around 72 the day we visited, which is about the same as the temperature of the Spring. It’s probably why there were no manatees in the Spring. They were probably on the river.  We didn’t see any on the river, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t around.  The St. John’s River water is dark brown and you can’t see a thing beneath the surface.

I did get some video of manatees in the wild at a boat ramp we visited near the Haulover Canal.

Boardwalk at Blue Springs
Boardwalk at Blue Springs

There is a nice wooden boardwalk all along the water that leads up to the actual Spring where Scuba Diving is allowed for those who are certified.

On the Park grounds you will find rest rooms, picnic areas, places to buy food and souvenirs, and lookout areas to view the water.  Camping spaces and cabins are available.

It’s a busy place in summer for swimming, and winter draws the tourists who want to see manatees. In fact, there is probably no time of year when this park is not full of people.

Check out the Blue Springs website to learn more.


Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

14 thoughts on “Blue Springs Crystal Clear Water and Manatee Refuge”

  1. I would agree, because those are the most quiet ones. The larger ones with a lot of people are great for doing things like building sandcastles and talking to others, but the quiet beaches are the place to go for nature appreciation.

  2. Hey, that’s an excellent page. I am writing about our local manatees for an upcoming blog post and will include this link for who are curious about the dugongs as well. Thank you!

  3. I’ve never heard of a dugong. Manatees have to have warm water so they go to the springs during winter where the water stays around 72 degrees. Or they find shallow water near the rivers where it stays warmer. I love seeing them and as a boater we always have to be on the lookout when traveling the waterways. I have a story about a close encounter with one that I should write about.

  4. What a beautiful place. I’ve never seen a Manatee but in the waters of far northern Australia there are dugongs, which are similar. I haven’t seen one of them in the wild, only in a zoo. It’s lovely that you can see such creatures in their natural habitat.

  5. Sorry to disappoint! We do see manatees out on the river often so I may get some photos one day, but I am a lousy wildlife photographer!

  6. What a shame there were no manatees! I was looking forward to an account of them and maybe a photo. They are pretty cute for funny looking mammals!

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