Ginnie Springs Ballroom Florida Freshwater Cavern Dive & A Disappointing Failure To Find Herpes Monkeys

  • Updated: December 28, 2018
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

December 28th, 2018

We had decided on Devil's Den first and then looked around for what other diving options we could fit in before driving south towards the Keys. We ended up settling on Ginnie Springs because it was another cavern advertised as safe for Open Water divers but seemed like it would be a bit of a progression from Devil's Den.

Jen was nervous at first but we decided we'd go in and take a look and turn back if it wasn't something we were comfortable with. For what it's worth we both found it to be straightforward but well worth the side trip if for no other reason than the visibility in the spring was something like 200 ft!

Ginnie Spring was only a short distance from Devil's Den so we barely had time to dry off before we were signing yet another waiver and renting another set of gear for Jen.

Before we could proceed we had to watch a short safety video talking about the area. The biggest takeaway (other than cave diving looks awesome) was that there was actually an option to do a drift dive down the river ending at the Ginnie Springs Ballroom.

Sadly it turned out that wasn't an option due to the higher flow due to recent rains so we had to stick to our original plan.

The dive / swimming site is accessed from a dirt lot not far from the office / dive shop.

We ran over to take a look at the pool and found it was fairly busy. Most people were just snorkling or free diving and the water looked clear even from the surface. Then I stuck my mask under the surface...

It was shockingly clear. I've seen it claimed visibility is something like 200 ft which I wouldn't doubt.

The bubbles were coming up through the rocks from the cavern below.

The entrance to the Ballroom is the only real feature in the spring.

When we got there there was a cave diving class going on and we did our best to stay out of their way.

There's a hand line running into the back of the cave but there was plenty of room for us to maneuver without it.

The back of the cavern is down around 50 ft and ends in this locked grate which you can swim up to and feel the water coming in from below. According to their website 35 million gallons of water a day come out of it.

We could see air bubbles gathering into pockets on the roof of the cavern and I found a rather large collection of glowsticks floating in one particularly large one. I don't know what the story behind them was but there must have been about 50.

We explored around the Ballroom but there wasn't a ton to see so we made our way back out into the spring.

The springs exit was blocked off by netting presumably to keep people from getting swept away in those unsafe drift conditions the office talked about but that still left us plenty to explore.

It was also entertaining watching the snorkelers and free divers up above.

After about 40 minutes we'd seen pretty much everything there was to see, visited the Ballroom twice, and we were ready to get out.

Since this was the last dive of the day we took advantage of the pleasantly hot showers before piling our gear back into the car and scarfing down snacks.

This was the last dive for the day but I had one last activity I was hoping to fit in before we headed south to the Keys.

A little-known fact is that when I'm stuck at home between trips I watch a lot of exotic pet videos on YouTube specifically those dealing with foxes and monkeys. So when I remembered that Florida is about the only place you can see monkeys in the wild in the U.S. I convinced Jen we had to try and find them!

Granted that population was apparently carrying a deadly strain of herpes but hey, monkeys!

The park was about an hour away from Ginnie Springs and -ish in the direction we needed to travel so off we went braving a rather sudden rainstorm that was gone just as quick as it started.

We made it to Silver Springs Park about 45 minutes before it closed and rushed to the ticket gate only to be told by a very non-engaged ticket agent that she didn't know where the monkeys were and that no she couldn't even tell us where to start looking.

So we did a power walk through the park looking for the spot in this video of a family being "attacked".

We didn't find any monkeys or alligators despite there being signs warning about both. According to a rather pleasant gentleman who had several times as many pins extolling Jesus than your average crazy transient he came here all the time and had never seen the monkeys

So there you go. So much for the infectious monkey invasion plaguing Florida. It was quite a pretty park I just would have liked to get a picture or two of monkeys chasing Jen around while screaming. You know, for the website. Ah well.

The remainder of the day was an absolutely brutal drive to get us down to the Keys. It wasn't until 2 am that we finally pulled into our RV campground at Big Pine Key and threw out a tent (to keep the mosquitos off us) on a small depressing square of dirt surrounded by RV's and other long term campers.

But hey, it wasn't like we would be sleeping for long. And tomorrow the unpleasantness would be worth well worth it as we planned to kick off the ocean diving segment of our trip with a buttkicker 6 dive day off Looe Key!

You Might Also Like