When the sunshine comes out, Florida’s coastline gets all the attention. But for an alternative way to cool off in the blistering Florida heat, there are plenty of swimming holes to explore too. In fact, the state has the highest concentration of natural springs in the whole world. There are over 900 bubbling springs across Florida from hidden streams and rivers to multi-pool diving sites and man-made grottos. So before you pack up your bucket and spade and head out of town to the beach, take a look at some of the best swimming holes in Florida.
The Best Swimming Holes in Florida
One of the region’s major springs, Silver Glen Springs boasts crystal clear waters at 72 degrees year-round. Some days, you can even see rainbows dancing across the bottom of the spring as the sun hits the water. It’s hardly a well-kept secret, for good reason too. The turquoise waters are perfect for snorkelling, though scuba diving is banned.
The springs are located in the Silver Glen Springs Recreational Area of the Ocala National Forest, about 11 miles south of the town of Salt Springs. Most of the strong flow emerges from two cavern openings in the rock at the bottom of the pool, with large boils at the water’s surface over the vents. The perfect place to cool off in the summertime.
Just 15 minutes south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is the deepest freshwater spring in the world. The pool is nestled deep within the ancient cypress swamps, which makes it popular with filmmakers. Plenty of movies have been filmed here, including Tarzan’s Secret Treasure and Creature from Black Lagoon. Its sapphire waters are popular with wildlife, as well as humans, with regular visits from manatees and alligators.
There’s a diving platform too, so you can launch yourself straight into the cool water when the blistering sunshine gets too much too. Don’t miss the old 1930s Spanish-style lodge, complete with period furniture, colourful ceilings and rickety old elevators.
Ginnie Springs is possibly the hardest place to hate in Florida. It has everything. You can take a dip and snorkel around the parks crystal clear seven springs. There’s tubing over at the Sante Fe, the laziest and most enjoyable to get across the water. You can also pick up a canoe, kayak and paddleboard or go scuba diving if you’re more adventurous. It’s perfectly acceptable to float around on an inflatable flamingo the whole time too. Each to their own.
Plus you can rent all the gear – including masks, fins and snorkels – from the Ginnie Springs Store. There’s also Gillie’s Grill, serving up barbequed goodies, volleyball courts and a kids playground.
This is old Florida at its finest. You won’t find all the frills of Ginnie Springs, bu there’s still plenty to keep you occupied. The park is a haven for wildlife, with beavers, otters, gars, softshell turtles and wood ducks. Beyond the pristine pool, there are three nature trails through lush park forest or along coastal paths of the towering longleaf pines too.
Rainbow Springs is one of the oldest swimming holes in Florida. It was a popular Native American pilgrimage site, dating back thousands of years. Today, the cool, clear waters are just as popular with locals looking to cool off come summer. The average depth runs from 5–18 feet deep, with average temperatures of 72 degrees all year round. You’re not allowed inflatables, rafts or balls, but you can rent canoes and kayaks if you’d prefer not to swim. There’s also tubing and snorkelling in the boundary areas. Beyond the pool, there are ornamental gardens, manmade waterfalls and stunning sloping hills to explore too.
Unlike most of the entries on this list, the Venetian Pool at the City of Coral Gables isn’t a natural spring. Created in 1923, the pool is actually cut from a coral rock quarry. The original coral rock was used to border the 82,000-gallon pool too. Springwater is fed through from an underground aquifer, filled and drained daily. It’s the only pool listed on the National Register of Historic Places too. Surrounding the pool, there’s the signature bridge, pretty porticos and palm trees.
The Royal Springs is part of a five-acre county park in the Suwanee Belle Estates, near O’Brien. It’s a little off-the-beaten-track and quieter than some of our other favourite swimming holes. The pool drops 42 feet (12 metres) deep, so it’s sort of like a bottomless pit. There are four decks overlooking the spring, with picnic tables and grassy areas for little ones to play on too. There’s also a one-lane, concrete boat ramp for boaters. Most visitors dive or jump into the spring, but you can also access the water by taking a staircase from the east side.