While most tourists head for Florida’s gorgeous beaches, others come to soak in the healing waters of Warm Mineral Springs, which many believe to be the fabled Fountain of Youth sought by Ponce de Leon.
During the ice age, Warm Mineral Springs was an underground cave with a lake at the bottom. As glaciers receded and the ice caps melted, the water level rose. Eventually the ground over the cave collapsed, exposing the lake. Over the years, divers exploring this sinkhole have discovered 11,000-year-old remains of prehistoric hunters, saber tooth tigers, a giant sloth, and camels, proving that the cave was once above water. Today the spring is an hourglass shaped geological feature that is 230 feet deep. More than nine million gallons of warm water flow into the springs each day from a 3000-foot deep aquifer, keeping the water a constant 87 degrees year round.
Proponents of Balneotherapy – the treatment of disease by bathing – believe that the minerals in spring waters can be absorbed through the skin. More than 65,000 people travel from all over the world every year to immerse themselves in these waters, purported to cure or alleviate ailments that include arthritis, skin conditions, fibromyalgia, stress, pain, and muscular problems. Even those who come to the springs with no ailments claim to emerge from the water feeling better and with glowing skin.
The legal classification of a mineral spring varies in different parts of the world but it is generally accepted that it must contain greater than 100 PPM (parts per million) of naturally dissolved solids. Warm Mineral Springs water contains a total of 17,349 ppm of minerals, including magnesium, silica, sulfate, chloride, sodium, carbon dioxide, potassium, and bicarbonate, among others, making it the highest in the U.S. and the third highest in the world. Warm Mineral Springs also has a steady pH of 7.3. Soaking in or drinking the water is believed to help alkalize bathers’ blood chemistry.
A full array of spa services are also available on site, including massage, acupuncture, facials, reflexology, Reiki healings, detoxifying body wraps, ion cleansing, ear candling, paraffin dips, and body waxing. Although the facilities are a bit dilapidated, the springs are definitely worth a visit. The cost is $20 per day for adults and $8 per day for children under 12 ($18 with AAA discount or $14 for students). A10-day pass is also available for $150. Warm Mineral Springs is open every day, weather permitting, from 9 am to 5 pm. North Port is located midway between Sarasota and Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Photos courtesy of Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels