Visiting the Springs in the Gainesville area of Florida Text by Dan Volker Photos by Sandra Edwards

Introducing Ginnie Springs; Blue Grotto, Devils Den , and Paradise Springs.

Ginnie Springs was nothing like I expected. I remember driving down this long dirt road, ending up by a picnic area and some neat looking wood decking leading out into the river at the edge.
But this was not like any river I had ever seen before. As we walked up to the bank, there was something waayy wrong with this picture...There was a sparkling blue, crystal clear, air kind of look to the area that should have been dark brown water. No pool, not even the Gulf Stream itself had ever looked this clear...We could see every blade of grass on the bottom.

Fish swimming halfway across the river looked like birds flying across a valley. Some divers had somehow managed to suspend themselves in mid air, and were peering into an opening in the rock wall of one side of this "river/valley". The opening was darker, but the clarity of the water was such that we could see in about 15 feet even from the surface. It was a big opening, it had a mystery and an alluring presence to it, and it created a tension in me immediately.

I couldn't wait to get into my scuba gear, I just grabbed mask, fins and snorkel and jumped in.
WOW... is 72 degree water a wake up call!!! Next time I would have my Wet Suit on. But my eyes were open and I was not believing what I was seeing. It was like being underwater, which I was, but looking around on land. It was almost a sensory overload kind of feeling...I was seeing too much! Back to the surface for some air, and then down into the mouth of the Ginnie Springs cavern.

The cavern entrance has two large openings, from which a great deal of light pours into the cavern. Aside from the spectacular feeling you get when you swim into this huge underwater chamber, there is another new and strange experience for are swimming head on into a stong current of some of the world's purest spring water...its flowing right out of the aquifer, and up the cave system, into your face at the mouth of the cavern. With my snorkel gear on, I just headed in about 40 feet, then turned and let the current help push me back out towards daylight and the surface.

After a few minutes the water temperature actually felt good to me, and I passed on bothering with a wet suit. Sandra however, entered the water with a 1/4 inch full suit, and hooded vest and she felt comfortable in it...If you visit here, bring a wet suit just in case your temperture tolerance is more like Sandra's than mine (or of course you could always rent one).

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