• Activities:

    Photography, Swimming, Diving

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Year Round

River
Swimming Hole

Clear water. Freshwater springs, underwater caves, and a river. Tubing, cave diving, scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Camping.

Nestled on the banks of the Santa Fe River, at the end of a long country road, six springs add a burst of clear water to the dark, winding river. These springs make up a park called "Ginnie Springs," a popular place for both locals and international visitors - and it's not just the clear water and river tubing that attract people in the masses.

Now for the "advanced" skill level part: There is an extensive underwater cave system with over 30,000 feet of mapped passageways. You MUST be a trained cave diver to enter these twisting limestone tunnels that lie just out of sight. They are extremely dangerous without proper training, but if you are certified, it's a must-see location. The Devil's System is a premier dive site, attracting divers from all over the world.

You must check in at the store and show a valid certification card before diving. You will also fill out waivers and pay an entry fee at the store, and you can find a large cave map on the wall in the middle of the store too. After you pay and check out the map, get back in your car and turn right on the dirt road that runs behind the store. You will drive past the main spring (on your left) and the next spring will be Devil's Eye and Ear. You will most likely see a bunch of cars backed up to a wooden fence and other cave divers setting up their gear on the picnic tables and tank racks. There are wooden platforms and stairs for easy entry/exit to and from the water. It is a short surface swim to enter the cave at either the Eye or the Ear.

Not a cave diver? Don't worry! Hot summer days bring large crowds to the river and campground (they allow drinking, so it can get a bit crazy), but if you bring (or rent) a mask and snorkel, you will be rewarded with magnificent, clear water. Open water divers can explore the "Ballroom," an underwater cavern that is as close to a cave dive as you can get with an open water certification. Exploring Devil's Eye, a perfectly circular spring vent that goes down to about 25 feet, is pretty cool, too.

If you are an open water diver, bring all your gear or alternatively rent everything on site (note: there is no cave diving gear available to rent). If you're an open water diver, don't forget your light for the Ballroom (but don't bring it in the water at Devil's Eye/Ear). You can rent tanks or get air fills at the store. If you're a cave diver, the closest places to get nitrox fills are Amigos Dive Center in Fort White or Cave Country in High Springs.

For more information about swimming, snorkeling, and tubing, see my other Ginnie Springs adventure!

Pack List

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Wetsuit/Drysuit
  • Light (open water diving at the Ballroom)
  • Underwater camera or waterproof phone case
  • Cave diving gear
  • Certification card
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This is not the most remote spring (well, unless you're in the caves...), but there is something for every water lover - whether it's snorkeling in the springs, floating down the river on a raft, night swimming while camping, or scuba diving the "Ballroom."

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Jennifer Adler

Photographer, cave diver, and mermaid. Seldom found above water or without a camera in hand. Ecology/Journalism PhD student in my spare time...

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