Freediving at Blue Springs in Orange City, FL
by Bevan Bigler
I've just started the hobby of freediving in the many springs we have here in Florida. For reference, I am a native Floridian. I have already heard of many good places to go, but I would like to mention Blue Springs in Orange City, FL.
First of all, there is more than one spring called Blue Springs, so I'm referring to it by the city that it is in. Like all Florida springs, the water is 72 degrees, which does feel cold to us Floridians. This particular spring is very popular for scuba diving because of the extensive underground cave system, but I enjoyed freediving there.
In case you're not familiar with the term "freediving" it basically means diving in water with only a mask, snorkel and fins. Compared to scuba diving, you are "free" from a lot of equipment but you can only stay down as long as you can hold your breath. With a little practice, you can stay down at least 1 minute and dive as deep as 60 feet.
Blue Springs is a good place for freediving because it has many nooks and crannies to explore and the spring opening is very deep (around 70 feet). It's a good place to practice how deep you can dive or just holding your breath for long periods. Of course, you need to have a diving buddy and read up about shallow and deep water blackouts (Wikipedia) in order to be safe.
The great thing about freediving is that you can explore places underwater that most people cannot. This is because some people have trouble de-pressurizing their ears and most people can't hold their breath for more than 30 seconds. Being underwater can also give you a sense of flying as well.
In order to really explore the springs in Florida as a freediver, you will need an underwater flashlight. I would recommend the 1 Watt Luxeon LED waterproof flashlight that's good for 100 feet down (Amazon).
Blue Springs is located on W French Ave in Orange City, FL. Some other good springs are Manatee Springs, Ginnie Springs, Alexander Springs and Wekiva Springs. Scuba diving is not possible at Wekiva Springs, but it's a great place for freediving!