Suwannee Adventures

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Skin Diving

Blue Hole Spring

Location:

Blue Hole is in the Ichetucknee State Park 
12087 SW US Highway 27
Fort White, FL 32038
(386) 497-4690


Scuba diving is allowed at Blue Hole Spring from October through March. Divers must be cavern or cave certified. Scuba diving is not permitted in the river or other springs. There is a half-mile trail to Blue Hole Spring; many divers bring a cart or wheelbarrow to transport gear. Dives cannot extend past 5:00 p.m.

Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park

Peacock Springs is an international destination for recreational cave diving. The park has two second-magnitude and one third-magnitude springs and 6 sinkholes—all in near-pristine condition and deep in the surrounding forest. All three springs can flow backwards when the Suwannee River floods.


Location:
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park is located 16 miles southwest of Live Oak on State Road 51, two miles east of Luraville on Peacock Springs Road. From Live Oak, take SR 51 South approximately 17 miles to Luraville. Turn left on 180th Street, go approximately 2 miles. Park entrance is on your right. From Mayo, take SR 51 North approximately 7 miles to Luraville. Turn right on 180th Street and go approximately 2 miles. Park entrance is on the right.


Recently renamed to honor the late world-class explorer, diver, cinematographer and photographer Wes Skiles, Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park has two major springs, a spring run and six sinkholes, all in near pristine condition. Cave divers travel from all over the world to explore nearly 33,000 feet of surveyed underwater passages at Peacock Springs. This park features one of the longest underwater cave systems in the continental United States. Only divers who show proof of their scuba certification are permitted to explore the underwater caverns. Around the springs, four major plant communities are represented in the mature forest stands. An award winning nature trail leads visitors on a path tracing the twisting tunnels of the caves far below their feet, educating hikers along the way.  Swimming in Peacock Springs and Orange Grove Sink are popular activities during the summer.  Grills and pavilions are available for picnicking.

Little River Springs

Location: 
Little River is located just north of Branford. Drive 3.1 miles north on U.S. Hwy 129  from the intersection with U.S. Hwy 27 in Branford. Turn west (left) onto 248 and drive 1.8 miles and then take a left at the dead end. There are no changing nor bathroom facilities here. 


Description: 
Little River is a popular dive site and a watering hole for the locals and is operated as an open county park. There are no real
restrictions for diving here and there are a new set of stairs built since the flood of 1998 that leads from the parking lot to the water. Flow is usually very high and allows incredible visibility most of the time. This is a great place to start your caving career since for the first few hundred feet there is little silt or splitting passage. One must be careful once past the cavern zone since the chimney can be startling if you can't control your buoyancy and anticipate rapid changes upon exiting. An open water diver died here several months ago due to lung expansion injuries. Cave diving is not for the occasional diver. If you cannot commit the time and money necessary, then don't even bother starting. While this is a good site for beginners, it still should not be taken lightly. At least one diver a year on average is pulled out of here.


Hart Springs

Location 
Hart Springs is northeast of Trenton and north of Fanning off of State Road 341 on the Suwannee River.


Description 

There are two springs in the area. The spring run exits northwest to the swimming area. The run again constricts under a wood foot bridge where it merges with the water from the second spring, a V-shaped vent. From here the run travels 900 feet to the Suwannee River. The recreation area is popular for parties, swimming, and camping. The gates remain open at night for campers since the care taker lives on the grounds. The cave is a guided dive, meaning you could go only with a diver experienced with the system, at a cost (to the park) of $20 per day.  A list of the requirements and dive guides can be found here. Remember, the guides are here on a volunteer basis, guides are not allowed to charge for services and don't expect anyone to tip them. Personally, I would make sure that the guides don't have to make the physical effort of removing any money from their wallets when they are at their next meal.  There is a new Website, http://www.hartspringsguide.com

Ginnie Springs - Devil's spring - Little Devils - Devil's Eye and Devil's Ear

One of the most popular fresh water diving locations in Florida, Ginnie Springs allows for some excellent diving activities. Ginnie Springs as some of the most pleasant staff around and also offers a large campground and fully stocked dive shop with an air fill station and rental gear. There is a high spring discharge from several of the springs on the property with the most popular being the Ginnie and Devils springs. Admission to Ginnie Springs for cave divers is $20 per day while open water divers (minimum ageo 0f 12) usually pay $27. The non-diver price is $10. Canoe rentals, picnic shelters, and volleyball courts are also available. Ginnie has numerous tent and RV sites available at a price of generally $16 a night per person.


Location:

Use these directions if you are driving north on Interstate 75 from the Tampa Bay are, or from Florida's Turnpike, coming through Orlando. Take I-75 north through Ocala and Gainesville. Thirteen miles north of Gainesville, look for and take Exit 399 (the Alachua exit). From Exit 399, take US-441 north approximately five miles to the town of High Springs. At the first stop light in High Springs (at the Hardee's), turn left. Continue through the next stop light, at the center of town, and go approximately one-half mile further to the turn off for County Road 340/NE 182nd Avenue. (You will see a sign on top of a pole indicating that this is the turn off for Ginnie, Blue and Poe Springs.) Turn right on to County Road 340 and go approximate 6.5 miles, to the sign indicating the turn off to Ginnie Springs (NE 60th Ave.) Turn right at the sign (NE 60th Ave.) and go approximately one mile further to the Ginnie Springs entrance.


Description:

Ginnie Springs is open to divers of all certification levels so during the weekends students often complete their open water dives in the basin and spring runs. The main popular cavern, generally known as the Ballroom, is open to all fully certified divers, including open water. All divers are allowed to bring lights to help in their exploration of the cavern, but diving the cavern at night should be restricted to those certified as full cave divers. All access to the cave has been completely blocked for several decades. Previously several divers had perished in the cave (also called Jenny Springs before being turned into a commercial resort) due to it's extreme silty and low ceiling environment. I have a couple of rare maps of that old system in the links below. 


The Devil's spring run consists of a series of three springs that pump water into the Santa Fe River. Little Devils is a vertical fissure that leads to the no-mount cave entrance (must take off tanks and push them ahead in order to pass the restriction). Devil's Eye and Devil's Ear are two caverns that connect about 60 feet into the cave. All divers are welcome to dive any of the caverns, but lights if any kind are not allowed except by those certified as cavern or full cave divers. All divers in the group must be cavern or cave certified. Extreme Exposure (home of GUE) has also opened a shop in nearby downtown High Springs (across from Ace Hardware). Now trimix and nitrox are more readily available locally. Previously if you wanted nitrox you had to get O2 from Lacy's Manor (since long closed) or the Berman O2 shed and then get air topped at the Ginnie dive shop. Whenever you enter the park, you will get a car pass that records the number of people in the vehicle. You then take the pass inside an pay the entrance fee for each person (depending on on they are diving, cavers, or just bubble watchers). Once leaving the dive shop, you'll loop back around to the guard house and show them the park pass. Once you get in, you have access to any place in the park to explore. Ginnie Springs is a great place to bring the (non-diving) family while you get wet or practice skills. Any time I get a new piece of gear or change my equipment configuration, I will practice here since the conditions are always the same and you can have plenty of bottom time. They are open 365 days of the year and offer a free gear exchange event every spring and fall. This is a good place to get rid of any old junk and find some decent deals on used gear. Contact Ginnie Springs Outdoors LLC at 386-454-7188 or fax 386-454-2085.


Green Sink

Location 
From Mayo, head northwest on U.S. 27/SR 20 for approximately 3 to 4 miles. Looking for a sign for the spring, turn right onto Highway 251B and then travel for another 2 miles. The entrance will be ont he east (right) side of the road.


Description

There is a 30 x 12 foot natural limestone bridge that you can (depending on river level) walk over or swim under similar to that of the small bridge at Telford. The 35 foot deep pool usually has a greenish tint. The Blue Springs has three sides with steep bluffs and a wooden stairway on either side. To get to Snake sink turn to the right and walk through the opening in the fence as you just enter the park. The sink itself bend a bit at a right angle, hence the name. Green sink is more traditionally oval shaped and can be reached by following the path from Snake Sink.

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Fanning Springs

Location 
Fanning Spring is 0.2 miles south of the U.S. 19 Hwy Bridge over the Suwannee River in the town of Fanning.


Description 
    Fanning Springs consists of two springs or pools, each with a run discharging to the Suwannee River. Fanning is about 200 ft wide and 350 ft long. Its vent, near the southeast wall, is about 30 feet in diameter. Pool depth is greatest near the vent, 18 ft or more, depending on river stage. The vent area is nearly funnel shaped, with a sandy bottom and limestone sides. The spring run, about 100 ft wide, 8 ft deep, and 100 ft long, flows westward. Little Fanning Spring has a nearly horizontal opening into a limestone hillside. It flows nearly southwest and the water is slightly turbulent for about 10 ft beyond the vent. The run widens from about 10 to 30 feet, and in a short distance turns west and joins the Suwannee River about 1,000 feet downstream. Fanning Springs is used primarily as a recreational area. Diving is allowed with a small additional fee, although it is primarily used for certification dives for local shops. For the $1 entrance fee, there are changing rooms, nature trails, a dive tower, and showers available. SCUBA is now allowed with a $10 fee with a minimum of two divers (i.e. no solo diving). Unless you are doing some kind of training, I suggest you just snorkel since the max depth is barely 15 feet.


Edward's Sink

Location 
Edward's Sink is a sinkhole on US 90 west of Live Oak and east of Leesburg. Take a dirt road behind the Inspection Station on the east side of the Suwannee and travel to the railroad tracks. Head down trail to left, then look to the left in the woods just before the river.


Description 
This is an advanced dive with plenty of tannic water. The cavern is 3 feet wide and 15 feet long, with a straight drop to 120' or so. It then winds under the Suwannee into Hamilton County, then under the Withlacoochie into Madison County. This is connected to the Suwanacoochee Spring, but I am unsure if you can traverse this due to the small size of the Suwanacoochee Spring.


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Dogwood Spring

Location 

Dogwood Spring is located on Ginnie Springs property. The run is used to recover tubers.


Description 
Dogwood Springs is a small system with restrictions similiar to Little Devil's Spring (i.e. no-mount)

Cathedral Canyon

Location

Cathedral Canyon is about 10 miles northwest of Live Oak and is part of the Falmouth system. From Live Oak drive 9.2 miles on U.S. Hwy 90, turn southwest onto a dirt road for 0.1 miles the spring is to the right (west). 


Description 
This cave that was chronicled on Sheck Exley's "Caverns Measureless to Man" and has been extensively explored under some of the worst diving conditions around. Exley bought the land around this karst window in order to gain access to the site. This site was literally his backyard and he created ways to make the diving more enjoyable such as rigging a hot water line for comfortable deco. This system is usually the first to go black whenever the river floods. This site is upstream of Falmouth Springs. NSS-CDS controls access to this site, so for more information, check out their website listing here. 

Bonnet Springs

Location 

Peacock Springs State Park property. The access road to the spring is on the right side of the road, just before the left hand bend that leads to the park entrance. The gate is locked and the combination must be given by the park ranger. Only those who are experienced (100 cave dives or more) and are with a guide (someone who has been there before) are allowed to dive here. Bonnet Spring is limited to 2 dive teams a day with a max number of 4 divers per team. One member of the team must be on the ranger’s list of cave divers who have previously dived the system. The dive team must receive permission from the ranger each time they wish to dive. If you are unable to locate the ranger you cannot dive Bonnet Spring, pretty simple. There are no reservations, scooter, stages, training dives, nordeco bottles allowed in this system.

Description 
The cave is a fragile system much like Cow Springs. Great care has been taken to preserve this site and should be respected. The GUE web page, here, has some good information written about this site and the procedures needed to dive it. Bonnet Spring is controlled by the park ranger. Bonnet Spring is a shallow cave system with a max depth of approximate 45 feet. The cave runs through a layer of very fragile Limestone, and has a long winding restriction (several hundred feet) where two dive teams are not able pass each other.


Troy Springs

Location: 
From the Suwannee bridge in Branford, travel west on US 27 for 4.7 miles. Turn right on NE CR 425, (look signs marking the entrance to the state park). Travel 1.2 miles from US 27 and turn right on NE Troy Springs Road. This is the entrance to the state park.


Description: 
Access is now available by land whereas previously one could only reach it by way of the river. The land was bought by the state in the mid-1990s and finally a roadway has been completed. Troy springs is well known as being the resting place of a 'War Between the States' paddle wheeled steamboat, the 'Madison'. The wreck lies near the spring run in the river, though is little more than some ribs and metal spikes that made up part of the hull. A little history of the site can be found 
http://www.rootsweb.com/~fllafaye/troysprings.htm. There is a good shot from inside the cavern http://www.floridasprings.com/images%20pages/jade.html and a shot of the spring run (with the body of the ship visible) http://www.floridasprings.com/images%20pages/troy.html. Camping is permitted by permit, when hunting season is closed, from the Suwannee River Water Management District, 9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060, 1-800-226-1066. Info can be found here. Access fees are $2 per vehicle (up to 8 people) or $5 diving fee per person. You must have your certification card in order to dive and solo diving is not permitted. This is an excellent place to visit and do a few quick dives in a relatively benign environment as the maximum depth reached is 70-80 feet. There are some neat overhead areas to check out and a passage or two that might be worth checking out for the cavers (though side mount might be the best option).

 The springs of the Suwannee Valley Basin offer unique diving adventure to central Florida and the ages old natural springs. Enjoy drifting the spectacular Ichetucknee River, dive the famous Blue Grotto, and immerse yourself in the underground pool at Devils Den. The springs are 72 degrees year round. This controlled climate makes it possible to dive every day of the year. 
​ Some of the most popular and interesting springs diving destinations include Peacock Springs and Ginnie Springs, the most visited freshwater diving spot in the world.

Welcome to the worlds most visited freshwater diving spots