Springs come plentifully in Florida and are the only type of water other then the ocean that you can swim in, since there is the ever-impressive American alligator in every pond available. That is where Ginnie Springs Wilderness Park comes into play. It is a beautiful 200-acre wilderness park in the north central part of Florida along the Santa Fe River. The main attraction of Ginnie Springs is cave-diving but camping, tubing, snorkelling, canoeing and kayaking are also offered.
There are seven separate springs along the edge of the Santa Fe River in the wilderness park. Each day, these springs discharge hundreds of millions of gallons of crystal-clear water that is a constant 22°C (72°F), year round. This may seem cold, but in the warm Florida summer sun it can be a relief.
People come from all over to go cave-diving at Ginnie Springs. There is an intricate web of tunnels and caves below the surface of the water. Ginnie Springs has dive equipment available for rent at the country store or dive centre. If you are certified cave-diver then it only costs $19 for the day. If you are a certified diver but not a cave-diver then it is $25 a day, plus the cost of whatever you may need to rent1.
There is a non-certificate programme available for those not certified in scuba-diving or those who are interested in cave-diving but want to check it out first. The 'Discover Scuba' activity fee includes all equipment, instruction, air fills and dive fees. It is $75 for one person and $99 for two people.
Camping is another amenity that you just can't miss. If you are lucky enough to get a spot right on the river then you are going to have a beautiful night. If you come on Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and the place is packed, you may end up way in the woods but you are still going to have a great time. Each site is equipped with a picnic table, fire pit, and grill. Fires are permitted as long as there is not a drought going on. Rates go by person instead of by lots. For an adult, camping costs $14 per night, children between the ages of seven and 14 are $6 per night and children under six camp for free. You can also have electricity and water connections (if you have a recreational vehicle) for $4 per night.
Tubing, Snorkelling, Canoeing, and Kayaking
Along the Santa Fe River there are many activities that can keep you occupied. Tubing, snorkelling, canoeing, and kayaking are all things that you can do on your visit to Ginnie Springs. All equipment for these activities is available at the country store for rent at different prices or you can bring your own. You also can just swim, but be careful on the river, as it has a strong current. It is advisable to use the buddy system if you are going to swim down the river. You can tube, canoe or kayak down the river, though, with great ease. One thing on the river to keep your eye out for is an old fallen tree in the river where tons of turtles show up to sunbathe. It is a beautiful sight.
The Country Store and Dive Centre
The country store and the dive centre are in the same building and are the first things that you see as you move down the long driveway. The country store is also the place to get your lot for camping or your recreational vehicle - and they even sell groceries and souvenirs. If you have a big party of about 30 or more people then they ask that you make reservations. If your party is not coming together at the same time then they have a billboard in front of the store where you can post a map of where your campsite is, or a message to the rest of your party.