Florida’s underworld kingdom
Florida is a watersport lover’s paradise – and every one knows it. But although most people keep as close to the state’s adventure-filled coastline, some decide to skip gorgeous beaches and mighty waves and head straight to the interior to experience region’s greatest diving – not the salty, but the freshwater – and underground one. Because Florida’s whole area, riddled with countless freshwater springs, offers some of world’s greatest cave diving, which can be experienced as its best in small Ginnie Springs, nestled among dense freshwater marshes in northwestern corner of the state.
Can I dive the caves?
Many of you can as at this moment: „Is cave diving for me?”. Well, as always it depends – cave diving is basically considered to be more difficult and demanding than typical ocean underwater trip. Especially if you switch your imagination on and see yourself surrounded by steep limestone walls and chimneys, closed in underground, water-filled chambers. But if you have already started your diving adventure, you might as well consider it as a next step in your diver’s career. Because cave diving is so much worth every effort and every breath you make while squeezing through almost claustrophobic, lit by gentle light corridors. It offers a unique feeling of being detached from the outside world and allowed to enter world’s most forbidden realm.
Ginnie Springs, being a huge, shaped like a giant bowl depression, is almost 100 ft across and is 15 ft deep. And, being this size, it obviously offers lots of fascinating diving spots – miles of limestone-carved mazes and passageways, connected with underground corridors to the Santa Fe River. The one that is reasonably easy to access if Ginnie cavern – underwater kingdom, open for any diver that got the PADI Open Waters Certificate. After descending into its turquoise waters, described by Jacques Coosteau as „visibility forever” divers enter the awe-inspiring chamber nicknamed „Ballroom”. 130 ft long and 55 ft deep, it allows them to see in a dim light many unique geological formations with famous spongework ceiling, which resembles…a gigantic piece of Swiss cheese. Before coming back to the surface many of them approach the iconic grate, which marks the end of all-accessible diving route and separates Ginnie Cavern from dangerous, off-limits cave system that lies beyond. And although they cannot enter it, they can at least pull themselves to the gate and feel the overwhelming force of 35 million gallons of water that pass via this opening.
Cave diving may not the most obvious thing to do while visiting Florida. At least, not until you try it. Because once you do, you’ll never come here for any other reason!