As regular readers of the blog know, I spend a lot of my free time diving in and around the Florida Panhandle.
This little strip of land along the north central Gulf of Mexico has a LOT to offer the certified scuba diver: nice shore diving from Pensacola to Panama City Beach, tons of artificial reefs and wrecks (be sure to check out the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail), beautiful prehistoric coral reefs & limestone ledges and many freshwater springs.
The springs are especially well-known in the recreational diving community. Open water instructors and students travel well over 500 miles to spend a weekend at a site like Vortex Spring and it’s easy to see why. Sites like Vortex have everything you need for a perfect open-water checkout weekend: nice campgrounds, gas fills on-site, a convenience store for your last-minute dive (and non-dive) needs, gin-clear water that remains a constant 68*F year-round, and a large open water basin that can accommodate dozens upon dozens of divers simultaneously.
For any of you that routinely dive in quarries in various parts of the world, let me explain freshwater springs this way:
They’re like quarries, but shallower.
With 200’+ visibility.
And water that always stays the same temperature.
Oh yeah, and there’s a hole at the bottom that leads back into an underwater cave………..