Looking down into the pale greenish-blue waters of Blue Spring from an elevated observation deck, the first thing you notice is a dark, jagged crevice that goes from a dark blue to an ebony black. Scuba divers head straight for the opening -- and disappear. They'll go straight down 60 feet, then angle off into a tunnel that leads another 60 feet to the bottom and a large cave.
The massive spring pumps 104 million gallons of water daily to the surface. Blue Spring State Park
is best-known for its winter gathering of manatees, but during the spring and summer, it's a magnet for cave divers.
"We get 100 scuba divers a week," Ranger Craig Spence-Thomas said. "They come here from all over the world . . . England, France, Japan."
Central Florida's Blue Spring State Park covers 2,644 acres of pristine wilderness in the heart of Central Florida's urban spawl.
WHERE: Just 35 miles from Orlando, near the town of Orange City. Take I-4 to Exit 114, take State Road 472 to Orange City and turn south on U.S. Highway 17-92. Go 2 miles to West French Avenue, turn west and follow the signs to the park.
THE SPRING: Pours out 104 million gallons of water daily, with a year-round temperature of 73 degrees, and a yearly attendance of 358,000 visitors.
HISTORY: Home to Native Americans for centuries, Blue Spring attracted famed naturalist John Bartram in the 1760s. He was the first person to produce a written account of its plant and animal life.
ACTIVITIES: A four-mile hiking trail through cool, shaded hammocks and flatwoods.
Call 1-386-775-3663 for park information and prices.
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