Just beyond the University of Florida’s bustling 88 thousand seat football stadium lies hundreds of tranquil, crystal-clear-blue freshwater springs still isolated from UF’s uproar.
The alluring springs, home to many manatees, should be at the top of your Florida bucket-list and makes for the picture-perfect adventure day combined with a bit of relaxation—and a lot of snorkeling!
Ginnie, Gilchrist Blue, and Ichetucknee are three super popular state parks, but the 300+ other springs powered by the Sunshine State’s Floridan Aquifer are still awaiting to be explored.
But besides kayaking, paddle boarding, diving, and floating down the connecting Santa Fe River, these springs make for an amazing day of snorkeling.
I don’t care how or where you get them, but goggles are a must! They don’t have to be fancy gear like this, but it’d be such a waste to not see what all the fuss is about beneath the surfaces of these springs.
I got this snorkeling set for $19.99 on the way there—unpacked it perfectly, repacked it perfectly—and returned it all on the way back home… thanks, Walmart!
If you look intensely enough at this photo, you’ll start to notice the tiny fins and tails of fish so eloquently camouflaged among the sand and stone that lie beneath you.
That’s your cue to secure your goggles, tighten your swimming fins, slip-on your snorkel, and hop in!
My favorite thing to do here is find a school of fish and swim around as far down as I can with them until I can’t hold my breath any longer. Haha, is that weird? Yeah, probably.
They literally cannot swim away from me fast enough. It’s safe to say I don’t make friends easily…
I could honestly spend the entire day in this one spring. I even skipped my first day of sophomore year classes to make sure I got there when it wasn’t too busy.
Why am I like this…?
Admission to the park is $14 per person, snorkeling gear is $6-$10 (unless you do it my way), single rafts for tubing down the Santa Fe River are $6, and a canoe, kayak, or paddle board for three hours is $12.
A kick-ass day between 20/30 bucks sounds like a no brainer to me. Look at that big ol’ smile ☺
Another hidden Florida gem, Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is an amazing place to spend your day. It’s no Ginnie Springs, but it certainly is a close second.
There’s a small, sandy beach area to chillax on and lots to swim in, walk through, and explore all around! They even have a dock that you can jump off of into this mesmerizing-blue water.
The entrance fee is $4 to $6 per vehicle, so a lot cheaper than Ginnie, but you already know how I feel about that ;-)
Most springs have an abundance of wildlife other than the school pictured before and this cute ‘lil crab shell I picked up while looking like an absolute idiot splashing around swimming with fish…again.
There’s manatees, bass, turtles, and a whole bunch of others animals…including…alligators? I’ve had mixed reviews on whether or not this is true so if you don’t hear from me the next time I go to a Florida spring, then let the authorities know…
Step right up (or into) our next stop: Ichetucknee Springs! Yeah, try saying that ten times fast.
This state park has some of the best tubing Florida has to offer! Although I haven’t been tubing here myself, I’ve heard great things about it and will be visiting next time I’m in Gainesville, especially for a low $6 vehicle entrance fee.
I visited this beautiful state park with my best friend back in 2016 when we were eager juniors in high school. I was hoping, praying, I’d be accepted into the University of Florida.
Oh, how times have changed… ugh, look how cute, young, and naive we were :-P
Welp, that’s all I know about these freshwater springs near Gainesville, Florida. Next up on my must-dos are Devil’s Den, Rainbow Springs, and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park so, stay tuned!
Hope to see you at the Springs!
Guided tour of Sapelo Island five miles offshore from the Georgia Coast. Includes roundtrip ferry ride to the Island, the University of Georgia's Marine Institute, R. J. Reynolds Mansion, historic, Sapelo Island Lighthouse, beautiful unspoiled and undeveloped Atlantic Ocean beach, and African-American community of slave descendants.