Vortex Springs Cave Is A Freshwater Oasis
Vortex Springs cave and recreation area is a breathtaking freshwater dive park and swimming area in Florida.
In fact, it’s the largest diving facility in the state of Florida, and a hugely popular freshwater spring that produces nearly 28 million US gallons of water every single day! The spring itself consists of a 200 foot basin with gorgeous surroundings. The cave within links the spring to the Floridian aquifer.
The waters are clear, the vibe is friendly and family-oriented, and the cave is incredible to explore for scuba divers and mystery seekers alike!
The Full Extent Of The Underwater Cave Is Still Unknown
There are so many cool things about this cave, one of them being that the whole thing has never been fully explored.
In fact, during the 1990s, 13 divers died while trying to explore Vortex Spring Cave. That’s a lot of divers. Understandably, due to the frequency of the accidents, the state of Florida threatened to ban diving near cave entrances.
Local divers, however, came up with a creative solution. They developed a special cave diving certification, which then became the standard for other underwater caves known to be dangerous. From there, Vortex Springs installed a locked underwater gate at the dangerous area of the cave, further preventing exploration from anyone who wasn’t certified.
They took things a step further, and required everyone who wanted to dive the cave to be escorted during their time underwater. Needless to say, people have still managed to get around the lock and the rules… and people have still died in the deepest areas of the cave. Because of this, the true depth of this cave remains a mystery.
Diving The Cave Offers A Rare & Unique Environment
The crystal clear dives into this deep limestone cavern are beautiful and thrilling. Not only are the springs themselves a great place to hang out, but the cave is a rare and unique environment.
Popular since the mid 1970s, the mouth of the cave is 50 feet below the surface of the water. Divers can go down to 115 feet before they’ll require special permission to go into that area of the cave. That’s still an area worthy of exploration!
Divers have measured more than 1,600 feet of the cave so far, and there is still more to go. Further, the limestone bedrock that’s part of why this cave is so stunning, shapes one of the largest known underwater caves in the Southern United States.
Fortunately, you can explore this gorgeous underwater cave even if you don’t have scuba equipment. There’s a rental shop at the springs, and even lessons available for a fee.
How To Visit Vortex Springs Cave
Vortex Springs is already a unique family-oriented destination, and is becoming even more so with ongoing improvements and renovations. They’re adding new campsites, cabins, and even a wedding venue for people who want to get married in this gorgeous spot.
Leaving from Ponce De Leon, Florida, you’ll take exit 96 off of Interstate 10. From there, you’ll drive just short of five miles on SR 81 until you see the entrance sign for Vortex Springs.
For more simple instructions, just plug this link into your GPS and you’ll be guided directly to a day of sun, swimming, and maybe even a dive in the cave!
Where To Stay
There are lots of options when it comes to accommodations at Vortex. On top of a large home for divers, there are options for corporate retreats, private events, and even bunk-bed lodges.
You can also camp on site in their pine forest, stay in a cabin, or even check out one of the lodges that sleeps up to 20 people. Go here to check out their official list of accommodations with pricing and full details.
Other Things To Do At The Springs
There’s so much to do at Vortex Spring Adventures that you don’t have to be a diver to enjoy. While diving is definitely the main draw to this park and spring, you can also swim in the pristine fresh waters, and even have some kiddie fun in the spring run.
Summer time is the best time to to go Vortex, so try to plan accordingly and get there early to avoid the crowds.
The swimming area is downstream from where the divers go, and set up as a different area altogether, so that’s neat. There are high dives and swings into the spring, and if you have kids, there are lots of water toys as well. You can even get a floatie tube and take a slow trip down the spring run.
On top of the water fun, there are also nature trails between the campground and the lodges. You can take a canoe or a kayak down Blue Creek, and of course camp on the gorgeous campsite.
Needless to say, there’s so much to do in this freshwater haven. Make it a stop on your next trip to Florida!