Dive into Florida’s Crystal-Clear Springs: Your Guide to Unforgettable Swimming, Snorkeling, and Tubing Adventures

The Florida springs, which captivated Ponce De Leon in his quest for the Fountain of Youth half a millennium ago, now serve as a recreational haven for swimmers, anglers, paddlers, and boaters. The plentiful spring water creates an extensive network of rivers that ultimately flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Discover the finest springs in Florida with us and decide which one you’d like to explore next!

Morrison Springs

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Morrison Springs (874 Morrison Springs Road, Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455) is well-known as one of the region’s most popular spots for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Located near Ponce de Leon, the large, sand-bottom spring is the centerpiece of a 161-acre county park. The estimated 48 million gallons of crystal-clear water that flows daily forms a 250-foot round spring pool and a spring run into the Choctawhatchee River. Below the surface are three caves, one reported to be 300 feet deep. The park is also an excellent spot for birding and nature photography. Amenities include a picnic area and a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk.

Jackson Blue Spring

Photo Credit: Northwest Florida.

Jackson Blue Spring is the heart of the popular Blue Springs Recreational Area (5461 Blue Springs Road, Marianna, Florida 32446; 850-482-2114), a county park located approximately five miles east of Marianna. It’s one of only 17 first-magnitude springs in Florida. It feeds an average of 85 million gallons of water a day to Merritt’s Mill Pond (nationally known for its outstanding fishing) and its clear blue headwater area is popular with swimmers and paddlers.

Underwater, the spring arises from a cave complex that is popular with both open water and cave divers. Each cave is said to be unique, described by names such as Shangri-la, Twin Caves, Hole-in-the-Wall, Gator Hole, and Indian Washtub. Certified cave divers from around the world come to explore them. The park is open from June to September.

Ponce de Leon Springs

Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Ponce de Leon Springs is located in Ponce De Leon Springs State Park (2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road, Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455; 850-836-4281). Named after the famed Spanish explorer, this could be considered the fountain of youth he searched for. The 68-degree year-round temperatures are surely refreshing to the snorkelers and swimmers who enjoy the springs and the park’s many amenities. The main spring is a convergence of two underwater flows, producing an estimated 14 million gallons of water daily.

Vortex Springs

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The 68-degree waters of Vortex Springs (1517 Vortex Springs Lane, Ponce De Leon, Florida 32455) are a popular spot for divers worldwide. One of the largest diving destinations in Florida, Vortex produces 25 million gallons of water per day and has a 50-foot-deep basin at the ledge of its cavern. The underwater “room” is well lit from the surface, and divers share the space with many indigenous fish. Located on 360 acres of pine forest and rolling hills, the surrounding facility offers a dive shop, campground, and other amenities.

Cypress Springs

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Surrounded by private property, Cypress Springs is only accessible via the spring run from Holmes Creek, but it is considered one of the most beautiful springs in Northwest Florida. It is one of 51 springs on Holmes Creek, and with its second-magnitude current joined by lush banks, it is a popular destination for boaters, paddlers, and swimmers enjoying the crystal-clear pool’s beauty.

Wakulla Springs

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Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (465 Wakulla Park Drive Wakulla Springs, FL 32327) contains Wakulla Springs, one of the world’s largest and deepest first-order freshwater springs. It’s an exit point of the Floridan Aquifer with an outflow measured at 860,000 U.S. gallons per minute (54 m3/s), and an average flow is about 400,000 US gallons per minute (25 m3/s).

Cave divers from the Woodville Karst Plain Project have mapped many miles of passage underground, and above ground, the Wakulla River flows several miles to the south, where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Fanning Springs

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Located in Fanning Springs State Park (18020 Northwest, US-19, Fanning Springs, FL 32693), Fanning Spring was a first-magnitude spring as recently as the 1990s. Today, it’s a second-magnitude spring producing 65 million gallons of water daily.

Fanning Springs Park is a perfect place to spend an afternoon or weekend. The water is always a cool, clear 72 degrees under a canopy of mature live oaks. Explorers can come by boat from the Suwannee River or bike from the Natural Coast State Trail. You can even travel by foot on a boardwalk through the cypress swamp to a platform overlooking the river.

Juniper Springs

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Juniper Springs (26701 FL-40, Silver Springs, FL 34488) forms the headwaters for Juniper Creek in the heart of Ocala National Forest. Known locally as “The Springs,” you’ll find a 135′ by 80′ oval-shaped pool with limestone caves on the bottom surrounded by a basin of rock and concrete. An old Civilian Conservation Corps mill house with a waterwheel beside the pool provides an Insta-worthy backdrop. The entire Juniper Springs Recreation Area is a favorite way stop along the 1,500-mile Florida Trail.

Madison Blue Spring

Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Madison Blue Spring (8300 FL-6, Lee, FL 32059) is on the Withlacoochee River, just above the confluence with the Suwannee. It was voted the No. 1 swimming hole in the country by USA Today for good reason. The 80’x25′ first-magnitude spring bubbles up into a limestone basin along the Withlacoochee River. On the shore, scenic woodlands of mixed hardwoods and pines create a picturesque backdrop for picnicking, paddling, and wildlife viewing. The kayak run from Madison Blue Spring State Park to Suwannee River State Park is one of the classic backcountry paddles in Florida springs.

Rainbow Springs

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Rainbow Springs (19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432) and the Rainbow River are a water lover’s paradise. The springs have a large swimming area with enough room for kayakers to paddle along the outside. The Rainbow River is fed by dozens of freshwater springs as it winds down to KP Hole Park, making it crystal clear from top to bottom. Adventurers flock here for a rare freshwater drift dive with excellent visibility, and families love the easy tube float down the river.

Ginnie Spring

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Ginnie Spring (7300 NE Ginnie Spgs Rd, High Springs, FL 32643) is a privately held spring that claims to be a “Slice of Pure Florida.” Camping and spring passes are available, but the spring’s claim to fame is diving. Ginnie Springs has been characterized as the world’s favorite freshwater dive with clear water and startling natural beauty. The clear water even made Jacques Cousteau marvel, “Visibility forever!” when he visited this Florida spring.

Ichetucknee Springs

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Ichetucknee Springs State Park (12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038) is home to the springhead and a scenic 6-mile spring-fed river with diving, snorkeling, cave exploration, swimming & boating. The 2,242-acre park is beautiful, but the highlight is tubing down the spring run fed by eight crystalline springs that keep the water clear from top to bottom with a convenient shuttle offered through the park.

Final Thoughts on Florida Springs

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The small towns of Florida welcome visitors who enjoy time above the surface and below, on the water and off. The online resources highlight the unique towns, and area visitor centers are great spots to get travel advice and a dose of small-town Southern hospitality. Visiting Florida springs’ clear, cool waters are a refreshing way to beat the Florida heat while enjoying all the natural beauty the sunshine state has to offer.

This article originally appeared on Coleman Concierge as A Dozen Stunningly Beautiful Florida Springs You Must Visit.

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