The eastern springs.
By Rusty Miller
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving this past Thursday. It got me to thinking of this year and all the diving and new students I have had the privilege to take diving to new discoveries for themselves. In January we did all our open water classes in the various springs within 2 hours of Crawfordville. I would generally take my students to the Blue Grotto and Devils Den outside of Williston, what I call the eastern springs.
If you haven’t dived Blue Grotto you should at least try it once. I will probably not take any more open water students there because the entrance fee went from $32 to $54 per diver, that is outrageous because it hasn’t really changed since last year. However if you haven’t been you should go once.
Our second open water dive was done in the Devils Den just a few miles east on 27 from Blue Grotto. The Devils Den is a very unique type of spring. It is what they consider an underground spring, however it is not without sunlight. What makes it so appealing is you have to climb down a long staircase, the first few stairs are stone that goes into the second set made of aluminum to the sunken platform, then wide steps into the spring basin. You then look up to a big opening to see sunlight coming through the ceiling of the cavern. If you get there on a cool winter morning you can walk around the platform at the ground level to see steam coming out of the hole that looks like a smoking caldron. The cost per diver is $38.
Around April, I would start taking students to the westside springs in and around Ponce de Leon.
Vortex springs and Morrison Springs. The water in the westside springs is about 4 degrees colder than the eastside springs and believe me you can tell the difference. We generally do our first day of diving in Morrison Springs as long as the water is clear. So far this year it has remained crystal clear this whole year. You need to call the Walton County Parks and Recreation before you go to make sure its at least a 3 or better. If they say it’s a 1 then don’t go because it will be pretty bad visibility. As of Oct. 28, it was perfect.
The second day of diving is done in Vortex Springs, literally 10 miles south on 81 from Morrison Springs. The entrance for divers at Morrison is free but the entrance for Vortex is $25 per diver – it has maintained that fee for the last 10 years. It has a great dive shop and it has changing rooms. The spring basin has all sorts of stuff to see but get there when they open or you might not get a close parking spot. They do have an abundance of picnic tables to set up your gear on.
All in all it has been a great year for diving. That’s what I love about Florida because you can dive all year long.
Keep making bubbles.
-Russell Miller #59999
Editor’s Note: This is a repeat of a column from December of last year.