7 Tips for Swimming in Freshwater Springs

The St. Johns River is home to some of Florida’s most beautiful freshwater springs in the entire state. Crystal clear water regulated by Mother Nature at a cool 72 degrees is what you will enjoy when you visit North Central Florida. Follow these seven tips when you go swimming in the freshwater springs.

girl snorkeling in freshwater springs
We have the seven tips you need to enjoy crystal clear freshwater springs in Florida.

Use Designated Paths

When visiting a spring, use clearly marked and established trails, boardwalks and paths to access the springs and canoe launch ramps. Foot traffic can alter the native plants and protected areas.

Bring Proper Equipment

You can’t come to a Florida freshwater spring without taking advantage of the crystal clear water. Be sure to bring the following items to enhance the quality of your visit:

  • A good mask and snorkel
  • Water shoes
  • A tube to float in
  • A waterproof card case and bag to hold your belongings
  • Beach towels

Stay Clear of the Bottom

We know how clear the water is and how exciting it is to see the marine life and vegetation all the way on the bottom of the springs when you’re diving or snorkeling. Avoid trampling the vegetation and stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the springs though. You’ll damage the ecosystem and disrupt the marine life.

Dispose of Trash Properly

The freshwater springs near the St. Johns River are natural treasures that park rangers strive to protect. Please remember to dispose of your trash properly. Cans, bottles, cigarette butts, plastic bags and more harms the water quality and wildlife that make the springs so beautiful.

freshwater springs Pinterest pin
Avoid trampling the vegetation and stirring up sediment at the bottom of freshwater springs.

Use Caution When Anchoring

Are you taking a boat on a trip to a freshwater spring? Use caution when using boat ramps and anchoring near the springs. Anchors disrupt the vegetation and cloud the water so make sure you are anchoring in proper locations. Also be advised there are some springs that don’t allow boats to enter. Read our blog to get up to speed on the proper boating signs along the St. Johns River.

Look for Wildlife at Freshwater Springs

While fresh spring water almost seems like it comes from a water park because of its amazing clarity, always remember that you’re sharing the springs with wildlife besides fish and turtles. The springs are a popular manatee sighting spot in the winter and are home to many other forms of wildlife. Read our blog to find out everything you need to know about wildlife near the St. Johns River.

manatee swimming in a freshwater spring
The springs are a popular manatee sighting spot in the winter months.

Plan Your Trip to the Springs Properly

North Central Florida’s freshwater springs, which stay a constant 72 degrees all year long, are popular for tourists and residents of the area alike, especially when temperatures climb into the 90s in the summer. Be advised the springs can be quite popular on summer weekends and long holiday weekends. Plan your trip to the springs earlier in the day or take a weekday trip if you’re looking to take advantage of the solitude of the springs.

Read a firsthand account of visitors utilizing all that De Leon Springs State Park has to offer here.

Read up on the local spring sensations you should visit near the St. Johns River with our 6 Hidden Gems blog.

Rent a Boat

No trip to the area’s freshwater springs is complete without renting a boat on the St. Johns River. Castaways on the River offers a fleet of rental boat options for your trip. Your marina rental boat operator will provide you with the tips and direction you need to navigate your rental boat to some amazing freshwater springs. Castaways on the River also offers quaint cottages and motel rooms with views of the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to plan your summer trip on the river today!

Castaways rent a boat button


Little Things That Make a Big Difference for Vacation Planning

You’ve settled on Castaways on the River for your upcoming vacation, what a great choice!  Soon you’ll be relaxing in a cottage, fishing crappie out on the St. Johns River, or hanging out with the family on a 22’ cruising pontoon boat. How will you start vacation planning?

Boat on the water at dusk/dawn.

To make the most of your time away, you’ll need to finish packing your suitcase and marking things off your vacation checklist, but what might you forget?  It’s those little things that will really add up to make the return from your adventure as stress-free as possible. Here are some little things that make a big difference while you’re vacation planning!

Getting Your Home Ready for Your Vacation

Basket with towels

Sometimes you get so busy getting your plane tickets, rental cars, and fishing gear ready, you totally forget preparing your house for a week away.  Getting your home ready for your absence means there’s less to do when you return—no need to have the proverbial vacation from your vacation!

  • Finish your laundry. Just think about the laundry you’ll be bringing home from a week away.  Do you really want to find those week-old dirty jeans at the bottom of the hamper to do as well?  When we say do all your laundry, make sure you clear out BOTH your washer and dryer.  You don’t want it to become a home for germs in there during your vacation because the last load didn’t fully dry.  While you’re at it, go ahead and throw your bed sheets in as well; it’s pretty nice to have clean sheets to come home to after a long day traveling.
  • Head over to your fridge and get rid of anything that may expire while you’re gone. Opening the fridge to the smell of “something dead” doesn’t exactly scream “Welcome Home”.  Also, be nice to yourself.  Leave a frozen pizza or likewise in the freezer so you don’t have to rush out to the store when you get home.  If your plane is delayed it will be a lifesaver.
  • After you’re done with the refrigerator clean up take out the trash. If your trash cans are stored in the garage arrange to have a neighbor take it out for you.  You can’t use enough air freshener to get rid of the funk cloud smelly trash will leave after sitting for a week.

Last, make sure your home is secure by locking windows and doors, unplug all non-essential (not the fridge!) appliances, and turn anything you can off.  This saves energy and alleviates any “Did I turn (insert energy-using/money-spending object here) off…” thoughts.

If you have a patio sliding door, put a bar down to prevent someone from sliding it open and put a few lights on each floor on timers.

Getting Ready for Vacation Outside Your Home

Business calculation

One of the easiest ways to prepare for vacation is calling your credit card company and giving them a heads up you’ll be going out of town.  You don’t need to be receiving fraud alerts and dealing with a declined card while fishing largemouth bass.

Make a list of all the bills that are due during your vacation and arrange payments a week before you go. You can always schedule bills with your bank’s automatic bill pay option if you don’t care to pay ahead.

Also, check to see if you have any doctor or dentist appointments scheduled.  Scheduled appointments months out and are easy to forget.

Make sure you schedule a mail hold for your vacation time so unwanted people can’t tell you’re gone.

Preparing Yourself and Your Family for Vacation

Close up of phone.

Put Castaways on the River, your car rental agency and airline phone numbers in your cell phone contacts.   It seems so simple, but many people don’t consider this before they go. And will save you a lot of headaches if something goes amiss on the road.

Give a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor your itinerary with contact phone numbers, while also setting expectations on when they should be used.  Tell friends or family when, or if, you’ll be checking in and when you may be totally off the grid and unreachable.

Take a long hard look at the contents of your wallet. Ask yourself what do you really need for a vacation?  Take out anything that doesn’t make the cut.  Store credit cards, membership cards, or any other random fillers are just dead weight and not necessary for your vacation; travel should be simple.

Happy vacation planning! Enjoy your vacation at Castaways on the River and be sure to let us know what you catch (even if it’s just your kid’s smiles).  If you haven’t reserved a cabin or boat yet, here’s where you can book your reservation.

Do you have any helpful vacation planning tips we didn’t cover?  Share them in the comments below.