Florida has over 700 springs, the most extensive collection in the nation. The glittering shades and dazzling reflections of emerald greens and aqua blue offer innumerable choices for a summer “cool down.”
Besides, you can find most of these springs within national or state parks in the central and northern parts of the Sunshine State.
What causes springs in Florida?
Typically, a spring occurs when water pressure causes a natural flow of underground water onto the surface.
In Florida, a tremendous network of limestone (aquifer) crevasses and caves lays underneath. Rainwater, slightly acidic due to atmospheric carbon dioxide, enters the rock and gradually enlarges the channels.
The water works through the limestone and creates an underground drainage system. This system places pressure on the already-present water in the aquifer, forcing it up through the tunnels to the surface, causing a spring.
Why are springs in Florida so popular?
From deep within the aquifer, eight billion gallons of water flow naturally from the Florida Springs every day.
That helps keep the water at a consistent 68-72 degree range. Even so, what makes the springs in Florida famous?
Boating and tubing
Florida springs offer kayaking, canoeing, and tubing opportunities. With hundreds of miles of swiftly flowing rivers, you can discover the deepest secrets of spring while paddling through it.
Camping and picnicking
Connect with friends and family on a picnic outing or a camping trip at the fantastic parks within these springs. You can also enjoy the cool water of headsprings or walks along the nature trails during the day.
At night, watch the canopy of stars coupled with a symphony of tree frogs and crickets.
Swimming and snorkeling
The stunning array of turtles and fish will take away your breath when you immerse yourself in any spring. The chilly waters will offer a quick relief during the sweltering summer in Florida. Besides, you can go snorkeling and discover unique underwater plants.
Scuba and cave diving
From science-related to recreational cavern diving, springs in Florida offer an opportunity to probe depths where only a few can ever go.
You can descend into the vast, open caverns to enjoy exotic views of rare fish and aquatic invertebrates. You can also test your skills in some of the deepest, longest, and most challenging underwater caves on earth.
Nature photography and wildlife observation
The spring’s stable water flow and constant year-round temperature offer an ideal habitat for innumerable species of migratory and native wildlife. That includes unique animals such as the river otter, bald eagle and manatee.
Guided tours and special events
Guided nature tours and special events are available to help visitors understand better and appreciate the spring ecosystem.
Moreover, the glass-bottom boat tours, Halloween musical concerts and “home of the mermaids” underwater ballet will undoubtedly entertain you.
5 Best Springs in Florida
It can be challenging to choose which of the over 700 springs you will visit. To make it easy for you, here are the five best springs in Florida:
Known for its camping amenities, Ginnie Springs in High Springs comprises of 200 acres of natural Florida. It boasts numerous shady trees that line the banks of the Santa Fe River. Water gushes from seven springs to form spring grottos and runs.
Tubers and kayakers can enjoy the two-mile stretch along the river. Furthermore, swimmers, divers, and snorkelers can view the underwater beautiful sandy limestone that reflects light from above.
Weeki Wachee Springs
On the Florida west coast in Spring Hill, you will find the graceful waters of the Weeki Wachee springs. Since 1947, this spring hosts the famous mermaid show, river cruise, and amusement park.
You can watch the fish-tailed human mermaids and underwater ballet performances through huge glass windows in a submerged theater.
Weeki Wachee bottom is still unknown, making it one the deepest springs in Florida for divers and snorkelers. Also, rent a tube or kayak and paddle through one of the most scenic places – the river connecting to the Gulf of Mexico.
Rainbow Springs (Rainbow River)
Sparkling in blue-green hue, Rainbow Springs in Marion County, Dunnelon boasts an array of wading birds and turtles as well as plant life. The crystal blue waters are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing.
Besides, Rainbow River is the fourth largest in the nation and was a crucial source for Native Americans. Hence, it is a home of relics such as mammoth fossils and stone tools.
While there are different places where you can take a tube trip, the Ichetucknee springs rule them all. It is an easygoing, no-frills adventure that anyone can enjoy- whether you are 8 or 80.
The 2669-acre is also a wildlife haven and home of gar, otter, beaver, wild turtle, wood duck, limpkin, and soft-shell turtle.
Eight of its major crystalline springs join together, creating the six-mile Ichetucknee River suitable for canoe or kayak. With nature trails meandering through the lush Park Forest, Ichetucknee is Old Florida at its finest and one of the astonishing springs in North Florida.
The park within Citrus County offers more wildlife than water activities. The forest area surrounding the Homosassa springs hosts wildlife such as black bears, bald eagle, red fox, otters and alligators.
Also, be sure to visit Lu the Hippo (the most famous resident in Homosassa) who Gov. Lawton Chiles granted honorary Florida citizenship in 1991.
With over a mile boardwalk and paved trails, you can enjoy bird-watching and wildlife encounters. Besides, you can watch the manatee through one of the most astronomical submerged freshwater observatories in the world. Since the park serves as a rehabilitation center for the orphaned and injured manatees, you surely won’t miss them.
What to bring if visiting a spring in Florida
Regardless of the time of the year or occasion, you should bring these essential items on any trip to the springs in Florida:
- Visor or sun hat
- Comfy walking shoes (preferably water-proof)
- Sandals or flip-flops
- Loose, lightweight clothing
- Poncho or umbrella
From manatee spotting to snorkeling in emerald waters, Florida has some of the most pristine and natural springs on earth.
The blue and green water grottoes coupled with lush vegetation, allows you to cool off the Florida heat.
Besides, the endless outdoor activities make Florida springs the ultimate destination -whether you want a vigorous adventure or a relaxing trip.