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Central Florida Springs  

Manatee Springs

Manatee Springs is an excellent site to scuba dive or snorkel. This picturesque park is owned by the state and C-Cards are checked at the gate if you wish to scuba dive. No dive lights allowed without cave certification. This large basin has a steep limestone cliff that drops down to a cavern entrance at 40 feet. that quickly turns into a cave dive. 200 yards away is Catfish Hotel Sink. This sink is covered with Duckweed and has a cave system that has been linked to Manatee Spring. Depths stay around 35 feet.

Directions:
Take US-19 north from the town of Cheifland, turn West on S-320 and follow the signs 6 miles to the entrance of Manatee Springs State Park

Hart Springs

Hart Springs is a Gilchrist County Park consisting of 3 small springs. that run out into the Suwannee. Depths range from 7 to 20 feet in the spring basins. A significant cave system was closed for several years after the deaths of divers. A program called "Rescue 911" w/ William Shatner was filmed here re-enacting the deaths of 2 divers that got lost in the cave system. The site has recently been re-opened to cave divers. The water color tends to be brown/green due to the vegetation around. A boardwalk goes out to the Suwannee. Not a visually impressive site.

Update! Hart Springs is open to cave divers again. You must register first. Visit www.hartsprings.com for more info.

Directions:
From Fanning Springs take CR 232 north. Turn left (west) on CR 344 and look for sign to park.

Fanning Springs

Located on the central, west coast of Florida on the Suwannee River. Fanning Springs is breath taking at first sight. It has a large basin with very clear water and excellent scenery all around. Depths vary from 2 to 21 feet depending on the river height. Water discharges from visible sand boils and small cracks in the rocks that surround the bottom. Good dive to snorkel. Combine this dive with Manatee Springs (just south) for a day of diving. The park is operated by the State and does not allow scuba. Admission was $1 in July 2004..The state spent over $750,000 restoring this spring and what a great job they did.

Directions:
From the town of Fanning Springs,take US 19 to the Suwannee River bridge. Take your second left after the bridge. Look for big sign.

Silver Glen Springs

Located in the Ocala National Forrest and operated by the US Forrest Service, Silver Glen Springs is unique. The spring basin is littered with 3-7 lb Striped Bass that swim around you in groups of hundreds. It's quite a site. There are two vents that are located at a 25 foot depth. There is a strong outflow, but you can pull yourself into the small cavern and explore as long as you can hold your breath. There is no scuba allowed. An extensive cave system has been mapped in Silver Glen Springs. A documentary is in the works by Wes Skiles including this cave system due out in late 2005. Admission was $3.00 in May 2001.

Directions:
From the intersection of S-19 and S-40 take S-19 for 6.5 miles north. Turn right when you see the sign.

Blue Spring-Volusia County

Blue Spring (Volusia County) is located in a large state park in central Florida and offers excellent camping facilities. Blue is known for its manatee migration in the run during the winter months. There is a large slit cave (right) that drops down to 120 feet where a restriction limits further exploring. On the way down, there are smaller caves that dead end into darkness about 15 feet back. At 60 feet open water divers will encounter a sign warning them to not proceed any further. Cave divers may continue only to be confronted w/ a strong flow that's known to blow the mask right off a diver. You must check in and register to scuba dive. Scuba diving it $5-$10 to dive. Check with the park before you go, as they periodically shut down due to algae growth or manatee migration.

Directions:
South on US 17/92 from Deland to Orange City. Head west (left) on West French Ave (you should see signs). continue west for 3 miles until you see the sign/entrance to the park on your left.

Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs, located in central Florida, is known for its safe open water dive. The shallow depths and small caverns make an for excellent novice dive. The spring basin is one of the largest I've seen, almost 300 ft. wide. While depths don't exceed 27 ft,, there is a very small cavern to explore that make it an enjoyable scuba dive. Snorkelers can also enjoy the basin and freedive to most of the exciting parts. The main cavern can be penetrated for about 10 ft. at a depth of 23 feet. There is a strong flow at the deepest part from a vent. There is a lot of marine wildlife here and a chance you might even see a gator!

FEES: $5 to scuba dive in March 2004
Operated by the Ocala National Forrest Dept. You will need an open water dive card to dive here.

Directions:
Located in Ocala National Forrest.
From the town of Eustis take Hwy 19 north for about 11 miles. Then take S-445 N.E.for about 5 miles and look for the sign entrance on the left.

Paradise Springs

Paradise Springs is actually a sinkhole that is privately owned and operated. The current owner purchased the land from a family member that was not using the sink. The sink is now open to the public and admission is $30 to scuba dive. Air fills were $5 a tank. Depths here reach 140 ft. Upon entering the water, a large cavern is encountered. At about 20 ft, you follow a large tunnel down at a 90 degree angle. Open water divers should stop at 99 ft., where they'll see a sign warning them "prevent your death." After 99ft. you loose all surface light and enter a small shaft that continues down to 140 ft. Visibilty is generally good. Careless divers make it worse. Some fossils can be seen in the walls of the cavern.

Directions:
Take I-75 south to exit 69. Go east 3miles to SR 441(Pine Ave) and turn right. Follow the road for 8.5 miles until the road splits in two.(trees will be in the middle). Take the first u-turn heading on 441. Look for a black mailbox w/ a dive flag on it and turn right on the dirt road. Follow the road 1/2 mile until you come to a yellow trailer w/ the Paradise Springs sign next to it.

Crystal River and Springs

Three Sister's Springs
Crystal River consists of 3 main springs that are of interest to scuba divers and snorkelers. Kings Spring has depths to 50+ feet and features a small cavern that is usually lined with all types of fish including Gray Snapper, Tarpon (100+ lbs.), Sergant Majors, Sheepshead, Mullet and Blue crabs. The main attraction to Crystal River is the Florida manatee. Crystal River is the only place in the U.S. that allows you to swim with the manatee. If you want to interact with a manatee, this is the place to come. It's legal to touch the sea cow as long as you're not "harassing" or chasing it. While swimming with the manatee, they will often approach you because of there curious nature. They love to roll on their backs so that you can scratch their bellies. The winter (November-March) is your best bet to see the manatees.

Directions:
Crystal river is located in Crystal River, FL, just north of Tampa.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto is actually a sinkhole with good visibilty. Depths reach 100 ft. Upon entering the sink you will encounter a very large cavern with writing on the walls. At a depth of 30 feet there is a fresh air bell so you can take off your mask and breath some fresh air. Continuing down, there is a large shaft that slopes down at a 90 degree angle. At around 90 feet you will encounter silt that can be easily stired up.
There are lights at 30 ft to illuminate the cavern. The owner, is very friendly and also manufactures dive, wreck and video lights. Admission was $37.38 in Jan 2006 to Scuba dive. Hours are 8-6pm 7 days a week.

Directions:

Blue Grotto is located just west of Williston on Alternate US 27. Take I-75 (exit 74) if you're going south or exit 70 if traveling north. Go west on Hwy 121 or Hwy 27. Once you get to downtown Williston head west on Alternate Hwy 27. Blue Grotto will be about four to five miles past the shopping center and water tower on the left side of the road. Just look for the Blue Grotto sign on the highway and take the left onto the dirt road.

3852 NE 172nd Court
Williston, Fl 32696
352-528-5770

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