Florida Springs Diving.
Northwest of Orlando lie several freshwater springs that are excellent sites
for a day trip or a weekend of diving.
No seastate, staircase access, constant 72F water,
and interesting geology make these sites well worth the visit.
Only OW certification is required here,
but if you enjoy the experience, you may be interested in getting Cavern or Cave training.
The springs offer new and exciting experiences for open water divers, but also
bring up some new issues to be aware of for the dives to be as safe
and as stress free as possible. Read the issues below, then enjoy the dives.
Ginnie Springs Basin
Issues for OW Divers in the Springs
Each spring is an exit from an underground river, hence the mouth of a water filled cave.
OW diving is done in the basins of the springs and the cavern zones of the caves.
In the cavern zone, the exit can always be seen. Several of the sites mentioned on this
page block off the cave at the end of the cavern zone.
For the rest, the cave entrance is clearly marked with a very conspicuous sign.
Significant danger and risk of death exists beyond these signs for OW divers, but you can not
wind up there by accident or be pushed in by current.
General Issues in an Overhead Environment
1: There is rock over your head.
This means slightly different diver behavior than in open water dives.
First, you cannot directly ascend to the surface in an emergency.
Buddy reliance becomes even more important,
and buddies should keep in frequent visual contact.
Second, the exit to the surface must always be kept in sight.
If you can't see the sunlight, you have entered the cave, and risk getting lost.
Obey the signs!
Alison entering Ginnie Ballroom.
Third, rock hurts if you're not paying attention and crack your head on it.
Worse, you can bang your tank into it, with the risk of knocking your regulator off the valve.
Stay aware, and move slowly in tight places. There's no rush.
Fourth, overhead and constrained passages may have a psychological impact.
The first rule of any diving: If you're not comfortable with the dive, don't do it.
Most of the caverns are wide and easy, but apprehension is a personal thing. If it sets in, stop and calm down,
or just leave and visit an easier site.
2: You can silt the place up.
In all the springs, there are places where you can turn spectacular
visibility into near zero by flogging ledges or the bottom with your hands or fins.
Pay attention to what's below you as much as what's overhead, and stay in
a horizontal trim unless you have lots of clearance off the bottom.
Even then, do not kick with your fins pointed downward as the propwash of your finning may cause a silt storm.
3: You can encounter strong currents.
A spring is a flow of water out of the ground. Flow in these sites varies from none to heavy, depending on
the spring, and from one area of the same cavern to another.
You will know when you enter the current, and can avoid it entirely if you don't care to explore that part of the site.
If you choose to challenge it, be prepared. Some currents can spin your mask
around to your ear and freeflow your regulator.
While that is readily dealt with, it's easier if you're prepared
mentally in advance.
They're all different.
The sites listed on my Springs Diving section offer a varying mix of all these issues.
From big ballrooms to narrow confines, no flow to screaming current, crystal clarity to quickly silted,
bare rock to prehistoric fossils, they're all different. I highly recommend them all.