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

So, here we are, diving in some of the world's best drinking water. Outside the entrance to the cavern, in the river. The water pushes out even here, and 200 foot + visibility is maintained irrespective of weather conditions. Aquatic life seen in this basin is much like what you could see in aquarium. We see friendly colored turtles, five or six different fish species--some pretty large ones, and we all fly around together for a hour or so until we decide to take a break. We swim back over to the wooden stairs extending down into the water as if in a swimming pool, and walk over to our nice shaded picnic table. People are playing volleyball, families are having their get-togethers, and we have found a new way to enjoy diving!
At Ginnie Springs there are two major cavern/cave systems that people visit. The Ginnie Springs cavern, which we visited first, and which is frequented by snorkellers and open water divers (who are allowed to dive the cavern portion and get back into the monstrous chamber inside)....and the Devils Ear spring, which is the more serious cave diver's choice. Devil's Ear has its opening further down the river, where divers enter a cut in the bottom of the river, and head immediately into a remarkable cave system.
Ginnie Springs is a world class dive destination, but can be enjoyed by snorkellers and non divers as a beautiful place to swim and peer into a system very unlike anything else they have ever seen. There is a great dive shop a few hundred yards down the dirt road from the springs, and the overhead canopy of the forest covering most of this area makes this feel like an adventure deep into the wilderness.
If you visit Ginnie Springs, you will want to stay or have a meal at one of the Bed & Breakfast Inns nearby, such as the Great Outdoors Inn. Divers on a budget can find inexpensive motels in High Springs (3 miles from Ginnie) or in Gainesville (about 15 minutes away). And Gainesville has all the excitement of a big college town, with lots of entertainment and dining options available.
For years I have heard stories about cave diving in the Gainesville area...about how pretty Gainesville is, the neat little Bed & Breakfast Inns you can stay at, and it being a College Town (Univ. of Fl) I always knew the people there would be fun.
But I never went. I dive wrecks and reefs, so why would I go?
Now that Sandra and I have made our first visit, we will probably be back there several times per year from now on!

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