Florida Springs where you can swim, snorkel and dive
Floridians weather the heat and humidity of our brutal summers by fleeing to the ocean or to the state’s wealth of cool, refreshing springs.
Geologists estimate there are more than 700 freshwater springs in Florida — the largest concentration on Earth — and most are located north of Orlando.
The springs listed here were selected for easy access to swimming and snorkeling, and a few allow scuba diving in the underwater caves that channel to the springs.
We have organized the most popular springs by region:
Blue Springs State Park, Orange City
The swimming hole is spectacular, sparkling in its clarity from the headspring to the end of the run at the St. John’s River. Sun splatters the cool water surface through the forested banks to give the spring run an almost surreal, jungle-like feel. Snorkeling and scuba diving is permitted, although I wouldn’t consider this a serious dive destination. But wow! What a great place to go for a swim! Park admission is $6 per vehicle and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. Swimming, snorkeling, tubing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking.
Blue Spring State Park is 30 miles southwest of Daytona Beach and 33 miles north of Orlando, just off I-4 in Orange City. Phone: (386) 775-3663. 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763
Related Florida Rambler article: Manatees in winter, swimming in summer, camping year-round
De Leon Springs, DeLeon Springs
Although Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon never really found his “Fountain of Youth,” this cool enclave has as much right as any to lay claim to the title. You certainly feel younger after you jump in and out of this spring. The spring head is impressive, a large wading pool with a spillway that tumbles into a broad spring-garden run through a chain of three lakes to the St. John’s River. Lifeguards are on duty seven days a week until school begins, then weekends through the winter. Admission is $6 per vehicle and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking.
De Leon Springs State Park is 30 miles west of Daytona Beach, just off International Speedway Drive on U.S. 17 North. Phone: (386) 985-4212. 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd., De Leon Springs, FL 32130
Related Florida Rambler article: State park known for pancakes is so much more.
Fanning Springs State Park, Fanning Springs
This park is small for a state park and known mostly by locals. The spring itself has swimming-pool clear water and is a dazzling blue in the sunlight. In has been a popular summer swimming hole for a century. Its water is a brisk 72 degrees year round. Snorkelers and scuba divers come for the underwater view and winter visitors occasionally get lucky and spot visiting manatees. Day-use admission is $6 (2-8 people per vehicle), $4 for a single, $2 for pedestrians and bicycles. Primitive camping for $5/night and cabins are $100 a night. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking.
Fanning Springs State Park is on U.S 19/98 in the town of Fanning Springs, near the intersection of State Road 26, west of Gainesville. Phone: (352) 463-3420. 18020 N.W. HWY 19, Fanning Springs, FL 32693
Ginnie Springs, High Springs
This magnificent, privately owned 200-acre recreation area includes seven springs that feed the Santa Fe River just outside of High Springs, near Gainesville. The river is a paddler’s dream as it lazily flows towards the Suwannee. A major attraction is scuba diving into the 50-foot deep head spring and its underlying network of caves with about 1,000 feet of subterranean passages.Day-use admission for divers or paddlers is $12 ($3 for children). Camping, cabin, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, tubing.
Ginnie Springs is about 9 miles west of High Springs on State Road 340/236. Phone: (386) 454-7188. 5000 NE 60th Ave, High Springs, FL 32643
Ichetucknee Springs State Park, High Springs
Ichetucknee may be the best spring in the state for tubing. As such, the spring run is under heavy pressure, so you won’t be able to transport anything that can be discarded in the river. Paddling is a year-round activity, and during summer there is an in-park shuttle service. Stick to weekdays when you don’t have to dodge the tubers. Snorkeling is allowed in designated areas. The park charges $5 per person to launch your tube, and you can rent your tube from private vendors outside the park. Swimming, tubing, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is about 40 miles northwest of Gainesville on State Highway 20. Phone: (386) 497-4690. 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038
Manatee Springs, Chiefland
Manatee Springs is an exquisite sight, with clear blue-green water ringed by cypress trees and knees, all draped with Spanish moss. Extensive boardwalks give you many good views of the spring and spring run and there are 8.5 miles of hiking trails in the park. The spring is a quarter mile off the scenic Suwanee. The spring has a well-developed swimming area and a concession, where you can rent canoes, kayaks, small motor boats and snorkeling gear. Day-use admission is $6 (2-8 people per vehicle), $4 for a single, $2 for pedestrians and bicycles. Camping at one of the park’s 86 campsites is $20 per night. All sites have water and electric; dump station on site. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, camping.
Manatee Springs State Park is located at the end of S.R. 320, off U.S. 98, six miles west of Chiefland. Phone: (352) 493-6072. 11650 NW 115 Street, Chiefland, FL 32626
Peacock Springs State Park, Live Oak
With one of the longest underwater cave systems in the country, Peacock Springs is a dream for cave divers, who have explored and surveyed nearly 33,000 feet of underwater passages. There are no lifeguards, and these springs are not child-friendly. Swimming and snorkeling are limited to Peacock and Orange Grove springs and is dependent on seasonal water levels. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving.
Peacock Springs State Park is about 20 miles south of Live Oak on State Road 51. Phone: (386) 776-2194. 18081 185th Road, Live Oak, FL 32060
Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnelon
Florida’s fourth-largest spring, Rainbow Spring and the Rainbow River has been a draw to humans for thousands of years. Today, it is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Moss-draped cypress trees line the river banks. The swimming area is at the head spring with lifeguards on duty during summer. Be aware that the average depth is 5 feet to 18 feet, which is not conducive for small children or wading. Admission is $2 per person at the headspring entrance and $5 per vehicle (up to 8 people) at the tube entrance. Children under 6 are free. Swimming, snorkeling, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, camping.
Rainbow Springs State Park is 23 miles west of Ocala, just off U.S. 41 north of Dunnellon. Phone: (352) 465-8555. 19158 South West 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
This venerable Florida tourist attraction, famous for its 400-seat underwater theater and performing mermaids, is now a state park with all the trimmings. Kids will love the waterslides and water park on Buccaneer Bay, elevating the swimming experience to theme-park fun. Admission is $13 per adult, $5 for children 6-12. Swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is 56 miles north of Tampa, near Brooksville, just off the Suncoast Parkway (SR 589). Phone: (352) 592-5656. 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, FL 34606
Morrison Springs Park, Ponce de Leon
This crystal clear aqua spring pumps 48 million gallons of water into a 250-foot wide pool popular for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The surrounding 161-acre park, managed by Walton County, offers picnic areas and restroom facilities, and a wheelchair-acccessible boardwalk links the springs to a floodplain along the spring run. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving.
Morrison Springs is in South Walton County at 874 Morrison Springs Road, Ponce de Leon. Phone: (850) 892–8108. 874 Morrison Springs Road, Ponce de Leon, FL 32455
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
BRRR. At 68 degrees, the 14 million gallons of water that flow out of this spring every day can chill the soul. The spring bowl is crescent-shaped with depths averaging five feet, partially surrounded by a stone wall with a shaded picnic area. Two hiking trails follow the spring run. Virtually abandoned in winter, this popular swimming destination is bursting at the seams during the hot summer months, so get there early. Day-use fee is $4 per vehicle, $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists (honor system). Snorkeling, swimming, fishing.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, 2860 State Park Road, Ponce de Leon Springs. Phone: (850) 836-4281. Take Exit 96 off Interstate 10 and drive .8 mile north on State Road 81, then right onto U.S. 90, then right again onto County Road 181A. Phone: (850) 836-4281. 2860 State Park Road, Ponce de Leon Springs, FL 32455
Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla Springs
One of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, the swimming area has a grassy beach, a 22-foot diving platform and floating docks. Snorkeling is allowed within the boundaries of the swimming area only. Water temperature is a constant 69 degrees, making it one of the coolest springs in the state. The spacious picnic area has a playground, and in winter months, attention shifts from the spring to miles of nature trails. Glass-bottom boats thrill visitors with views of ancient mastodon bones when the water is clear. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear. Call before you go. Day-use fee $6 per vehicle ( 2 – 8 occupants); $4 per vehicle with single occupant; $2 for pedestrians or bicyclist. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving.
Wakulla Spring State Park, 50 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, Fl 32327. Phone: (850) 561-7276. 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327
Ocala National Forest
Alexander Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
Lying in the southern tier of Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is within easy reach of Orlando and Deland, One of only 27 first-magnitude springs in Florida, this may be the best swimming hole in the state. The spring has a gently sloping beach into the spring basin. Snorkeling, off-road cycling and a 7-mile canoe trail add to the summer fun. Day-use fee is $5.50 per person. Swimming, scuba diving, camping.
Alexander Springs Recreation Area is between Astor and Altoona, east of State Road 19 and west of the St. Johns River and County Route 445-A. Phone: 352-669-3522. Camping reservations: 1-877-444-6777. 49525 CR 445, Altoona, FL.
Related Florida Rambler article: Explore wild, vast Ocala National Forest
Juniper Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
May be the most well-known spring in Florida, and the Juniper Spring Run one of the most beautiful. Dense, semi-tropical foliage rarely seen anywhere else, the forest provides a unique environment for picnicking, bird watching, hiking, swimming, snorkeling and paddling down the awesome spring run fed by Juniper Spring and Fern Hammock Spring. Day use is $5 per person. Swimming, scuba diving, camping.
Juniper Springs is on State Road 40, about 11 miles west of Astor and 60 miles north of Orlando. Phone: 352-625-3147. 26701 State Road 40, Silver Springs, FL.
Salt Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
A large swimming area is cordoned off for swimmers at the spring head before the water flows into a broad spring run that offers a scenic paddle all the way to Lake George,. The fishing here is world-class, and the camground is the largest in Ocala National Forest. The presence of potassium, magnesium and sodium salts give the waters in the spring a slight salinity. There are no lifeguards. The privately run Salt Springs Run Marina rents paddleboards, kayaks, cnaoes skiffs and pontoon boats for cruising the spring run and Lake George. Day-use admission is $6 per person. Swimming, scuba diving, camping and cabins.
Salt Springs Recreation Area is on State Road 19, north of State Road 40, which crosses the state from Ormond Beach to Ocala. Phone: 352-685-2048. 13851 North Highway 19, Salt Springs, FL
Lithia Springs Park, Lithia
Tucked away in an eastern corner of Hillsborough County, there’s a small 160-acre preserve along the Alafia River that packs a lot of nature in a small park. The spring pumps 25 million gallons of 72-degree water daily into a large swimming bowl surrounded by a concrete berm and a beach on one end and walkable earthen dike that circles the spring. Kayak and canoe rentals can be arranged at the park entrance gate. The park’s canoe launch provides easy access to the river. Day-use admission is $2 per person. There is an additional swimming charge of $2 per person. The campground features 44 sites with electric and water for $24 per night in addition to admissioin. Campers must also purchase swim bands to swim in the spring.
Lithia Springs Regional Park. 3932 Lithia Springs Rd, Lithia, FL 33547. Phone: (813) 744-5572. From Interstate 75, take State Road 60 east three miles to Lithia Pinecrest Road (County Road 640). Go south 7 miles to Lithia Springs Road. Follow Lithia Springs Road to the park entrance. Swimming, snorkeling, camping, kayak and canoe.
Rock Springs at Kelly Park, Apopka
This beautiful, shaded park in the northeast corner of Orange County is one of my favorites. At the spring head, the cool water spills into a series of pools at the rate of 26,000 gallons a minute. You can wade or tube for about a quarter-mile through the crystal clear run. Outside Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run rambles for more than 8 miles through state-owned wilderness. The only canoe access is Kings Landing, a private outfitter just down the road. Day-use admission to Kelly Park is $3 per vehicle for 1-2 people; $5 per vehicle for 3-8 people. Swimming, snorkeling, camping. (Kayak and canoe nearby)
Kelly Park/Rock Springs is 6 miles north of Apopka on East Kelly Park Road, off Rock Springs Road.
Related Florida Rambler article: Best camping near Orlando, Kelly Park
Wekiva Falls, Sanford
This mineral spring at privately run Wekiva Falls is capped, forcing water up through a concrete flue and spilling over a “falls” into a large swimming lagoon with great fanfare. The kids will love this watery playground with its double water slide while their parents lounge on the concrete apron that surrounds the lagoon. Dad can wander downstream to fish in the shade on the Wekiva River. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent. Day-use admission is $8 for adults. $6 for children. A carload (up to 6) is $25. The campground has 800 sites, including tent sites in the shade along the spring run, $44 and up for RVs and $35 for tent sites. Swimming, snorkeling, kayak, canoe, camping.
Wekiva Falls RV Resort is west of Sanford. Take Exit 101-C off I-4 and follow SR 46 west to Wekiva River Road, which is 50 feet past the bridge over the Wekiva River. Follow Wekiva River Road south 1.4 miles to the entrance.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs rise into large pools for swimmers, lazily spilling a half-mile downstream to form the Wekiva River with help from Rock Springs Run. The water at this spring is a constant 72 degrees and, like Rock Spring, it is crystal clear. Canoes and kayaks are available at the park concession. Wildly popular, this park often reaches capacity on summer weekends, so arrive early or face what could be a long wait to get in. Day-use admission is $6 per vehicle (2-8 people), $4 for a single-occupant vehicle and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. The park’s campground has 60 sites with full hookups for $24 per night. Swimming, snorkeling, kayak and canoe.
Wekiwa Springs State Park is 20 minutes north of Orlando. Take Exit 94 off I-4 onto State Road 434 West. Turn right on Wekiwa Springs Road and go 4 miles.
Click here for Florida Rambler’s Index of Articles about Springs.
Note: During winter, many of these springs harbor manatees seeking protection from the elements and are closed to swimming.