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The healing waters of Warm Mineral Springs: a Mother's Day like no other

Warm Mineral Springs
Dean Chavis

If you're looking for a natural wellness experience in SW Florida, Warm Mineral Springs in Northport will give you a variety of healthy choices from elegant to rustic. The only warm mineral spring in the state of Florida and the largest warm water spring in the world, early native Americans are said to have honored this spring as a special, healing site.

Not only does it boast the highest healing mineral content for spring water in the USA, it is also listed in the National Register of Historical Places by the Department of Interior. This SW Florida mineral spring is one of the most important underwater archaeological sites in America.

Historical Tidbits

In 1973 divers uncovered the remains of a 10,000 year old man's skull in remarkable condition with brain tissue still attached. Unheard of, this discovery helped mark the spring as an important archaeological site.

And while the spring water can preserve skin, it will oxidize metals, so don't wear your favorite silver, gold or any other metal jewelry while bathing in the waters.

Warm Mineral Springs

Located halfway between Ft. Myers and Sarasota on the west coast, this spa is the 2nd largest natural warm water spring in the western hemisphere and has 51 healing minerals flowing through 9 million gallons of warm water daily. The temperature of the spring is 87°, perfect for swimmers 364 days a year (closed on Christmas day).

While it is a commercial spa (general admission is $20 per person, per day), the springs are advertised as a natural way to relieve conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and various other skin disorders such as excema and psoriasis. Spend an hour in the waters, moving in clockwise formations around the perimeter of the sinkhole and see how you feel later in the day.

This retreat is made up of the natural springs, a beauty & health spa with massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and a cafe. Group classes are also offered throughout each day including yoga, drumming, aqua massage and aqua yoga; all to help combat the stresses of modern day life. Some classes are offered free while others may require payment.

Taking a Walk Around the Spring

The round sinkhole is about 80 yards in diameter and is roped off so that you can walk in water up to your neck clockwise (if you try to walk counter-clockwise, you'll be fighting the flow). If you decide to swim across the spring, you can, but here's what happened to me.

I noticed that the flow of spring-walkers was definitely moving clockwise so I gently let myself into the spring (avoiding the turtle and noticing the small schools of tiny fish). My goal was two-fold: to experience some healing (from psoriasis) and to test the theory of the general opinion that the demographics of this place are 70% Eastern European and 30% American on weekends (it was a Saturday).

So as I began my doubletime walk, clockwise aound the perimeter, in water up to my neck, I began picking up the speed in order to pass each person or group of people while trying to hear their language of choice.

Each group I passed around on the first half of the circle were definitely Eastern European, and more specifically, Russian. I passed one couple speaking Spanish, one couple speaking German, and one family of four speaking English. I was definitely in the minority here.

Making Friends in the Middle of Healing

At the end of my first trek around the spring, I found myself next to two women who I didn't get to overhear. I noticed some drek in the water at the time and was hoping it was only moss and not something that floats in a toilet, so I asked the two women, "Excuse me, but do you speak English?" They did!

"Um, do you think this is moss or is it something that we wouldn't want to find here, like poop?" They both laughed and explained that this natural spring would certainly have natural elements like the moss floating in it.

As we introduced ourselves to each other, both Teresa Swan and Vini Masarro assured me it wasn't the dreaded poo I was worried about. "It's natural," they said, "it won't hurt you."

After several trips around the perimeter, it was time to get out of the water. I said goodbye to my new friends and thanked them for their kindness and openness that Americans are known for, the world over.

And then I tried to swim out in the deep part, in the middle of the springs. I felt pulled down, surprisingly, and panicked a bit. I imagined how the drain in my sink or toilet goes around in a clockwise pattern, being pulled down into the swirl of the bowl.

Overly dramatic? Yes, perhaps! But this is a natural spring and naturally, I felt a little bit of danger in its crude, rustic form.

Warm Mineral Springs - A Gift

So, it's Mother's Day and you want to show mom a good time. Is this a good place for her to enjoy?

Yes, if she wants to enjoy nature's healing waters. Yes, if she wants a mud facial or massage or pedicure. Yes, if she wants to enjoy something off the beaten track.

Mom, if you're tired of the slick, Disney-esque Florida outings, this little spring might just give you a special kick. Rustic and earthy, and not so overly touristy, this day spa might make you feel healthy and happy.

After the wheatgrass shot for me and the hour-long massage for my husband, Warm Mineral Springs left us with a contented feeling. Nothing rash or over-the-top, just warm mineral spring-like. A little bit of heaven on earth.

Oh and Vini...I saw a squirrel just as I was leaving. But the birds? I don't know where the birds went? Do you?


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