While Florida is known for its beautiful beaches on both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, the natural springs in Florida are some of the most beautiful and pristine waters in the world.
Florida is home to hundreds of natural springs. The Florida springs are an amazing sight to see. The springs are formed when the water bubbles up from the Florida aquifer through vents in the surface. You can see the beginnings of new springs being formed in spring boils that are often found near existing spring heads.
Natural springs in Florida are located in various counties throughout the state in central and northern Florida into the panhandle so they are accessible no matter what part of the state you live in.
Things To Do in the Natural Springs in Florida
The natural springs in Florida are the perfect place for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding on SUPs, snorkeling, tubing, diving, and seeing wildlife. These are some of the best swimming holes in Florida because the waters are crystal clear and a constant 68 to 74 degrees making swimming possible year-round.
During winter months the natural springs in Florida are a favorite hot spot for observing manatees. You can even swim with manatees if you visit the springs of Crystal River.
There are also places with caves that certified divers can explore. While this can be dangerous, it’s a really cool opportunity if you are qualified to do it safely.
Most Beautiful Natural Springs in Florida
Here are 20 of the best natural springs in Florida with some of the bluest waters in the world.
1. Salt Springs
Salt Springs is one of the prettiest and most unique springs in Florida. It has natural magnesium and potassium salts giving it a mild salinity. It is a great spring for snorkeling because of the rocks and small canyons you can explore. There are bass, turtles, and even blue crabs in this spring.
They have a store with floats, snacks, swimwear and bathroom facilities with a changing area. There is also a campground for this area.
Location: Ocala National Forest
2. Alexander Springs
Alexander Springs is one of my favorite swimming holes in Florida. It’s a massive swimming area near the head springs and the majority of it is shallow and walkable. There’s an area near the far northern bank that’s like a natural aquarium where you can observe lots of fish. The headspring is gorgeous and blue with a deep canyon that free divers love.
Location: Ocala National Forest
3. Juniper Springs
Juniper Springs is a completely concrete-walled spring pool next to an old watermill. There’s a lot of vegetation so it will look darker than some of the other springs but the water is still very clear and blue.
When you visit it’s worth it to make the hike on the trails and see the other smaller springs. These springs are newly formed and the area around them is sensitive. Swimming is not permitted in the other springs but they are scenic and there’s a cute bridge that crosses over them.
Location: Ocala National Forest
4. Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park has a designated swimming area at the headsprings. I recommend having a noodle or a float because the water is about 6 ft deep at the platform. The Rainbow River is perfect for kayaking and tubing. You can rent kayaks from the headsprings but tubing launches from a separate entrance near the campgrounds. The float downriver is about 2 hours and you get out and get picked up.
Location: Dunnellon, FL
5. Silver Glen Springs
Silver Glen Springs looks like a swimming pool with perfectly clear turquoise waters. You can stand throughout most of the swimming area except for just above the main springhead vent. There are picnic tables and seating areas but there is not a changing area.
Location: Ocala National Forest
6. Weeki Wachee State Park
Buccaneer Bay is the designated swim area with water slides, a lazy river, beach, and floating dock. It’s a great spring for kids with the shallow walk-in area. Another cool feature about the park is the scenic boat ride down the Weeki Wachee River and the animal shows.
You can also launch a kayak from the state park and paddle 3.5 miles downriver to the pickup spot for one of the best places to kayak in Florida.
Weeki Wachee is most famous for its live underwater mermaid shows in the underwater amphitheater. Watching the mermaids dive in the deep springhead is a really neat thing that’s worth it to watch at least once even if you don’t have kids.
Location: Spring Hill, FL
7. Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs is hands down one of the pretties and bluest head springs in the state. There are boardwalk trails that take you along the Silver River where you may see the famous rhesus monkeys. It’s a great river to paddle via kayak or SUP. You might see manatee, turtles, lots of birds, and an occasional alligator along the river.
They also have the famous glass bottom boat tours where you can peer down into the bottom of the head springs and view the other underwater vents along the river.
Location: Ocala, FL
8. Devil’s Den
Devil’s Den is one of the most unique swimming holes in the country because it’s actually an underground prehistoric cave. It’s very similar to the cenotes of Mexico. You can snorkel the cool blue waters or you can dive if you are certified.
Noodles and floats are not permitted at Devil’s Den so you need to be a decent swimmer to visit this natural spring.
Learn more about planning your visit to Devil’s Den from my detailed post.
Location: Williston, FL
9. Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is an amazing blue hole famous with local divers not far from Devil’s Den. It’s actually a dive resort where divers can get their certification and train for deepwater cave diving. The deepest cavern goes to a depth of 100ft.
You can’t snorkel or swim recreationally at Blue Grotto. It’s for divers only, but you can walk around and take pictures of the spring.
Location: Williston, FL
10. Blue Spring State Park
This swimming hole is very popular for manatees during the colder months so it is only open for swimming when it’s not manatee season. You can also paddle this spring run and rent kayaks, stroll the boardwalk, or take a scenic boat ride down the St.Johns river.
Blue Spring State Park is a destination that gets very crowded and reaches capacity early so you want to plan to be there very early, especially on weekends.
Location: Orange City, FL (near Orlando)
11. De Leon Springs State Park
De Leon Springs was once thought to be the fountain of youth by early colonizer explorers because the Mayaca Indians called it Healing Waters. This swimming hole is a concrete pool with clear waters about 60 ft across.
While you’re there have breakfast at the Sugar Mill Restaurant that overlooks the springs.
Location: De Leon Springs, FL
12. Wakulla Springs State Park
Wakulla Springs is the largest and deepest freshwater spring in the world. The historic Lodge at Wakulla Springs overlooks the massive swimming area. It’s famous for films being made there like Creature from the Black Lagoon. You can also take an educational boat cruise up the river to see wildlife and learn more about the ecosystem.
Over time the water quality of this spring area has changed due to many factors so it is not the bright aquamarine blue and turquoise as many of the other springs. You should also only swim in the designated areas because alligators frequent the river downstream from the spring head.
Location: Wakulla Springs, FL (Panhandle)
13. Rock Springs at Kelly Park
Rock Springs at Kelly Park is a popular swimming and tubing park just outside of the Orlando area. The spring waters are shallow and clear making it a popular spot for families. Weekends get crowded and the park reaches capacity early in the day.
While you can tube this natural lazy river, you must get your tube from one of the outfitters just outside the park entrance if you need to rent one. The run is very shallow and the tubes are very small so you will want to either bring your own or sit on top. It’s too shallow to have your legs dangling beneath.
Location: Apopka, FL
14. Three Sisters Springs
Three Sisters Springs is actually three springheads that open up to create one massive turquoise paradise lagoon. I love Three Sisters because it’s only accessible by a nonmotorized boat. You have to kayak or paddleboard into the lagoon. If you boat in on the canals from King’s Bay, you will have to anchor your boat outside in the canal and swim in.
Be advised there are no shorelines or beaches in the lagoon and you are not allowed to get out of your boat and stand on the banks to prevent eroding the banks.
It’s free to enter the Three Sisters Springs lagoon by water but it is only open seasonally. During manatee season there are times where you cannot enter the lagoon to protect the manatees from being disturbed.
Location: Crystal River, FL
15. Jackson Blue Spring Recreation Area
Jackson Blue Spring is a gorgeous park in the Florida panhandle with a natural spring with tubing, a diving board, and kayak launch. The water was so pristine and full of life. We saw crawfish, bass, turtles, and an abundance of other small fish. It’s a great park for little ones because there is plenty of shallow sandy bottoms where the kids can safely play.
If you are visiting this area you can also extend your trip to visit the Florida Caverns and Falling Waters State Park, the tallest natural waterfall in Florida.
Location: Marianna, FL
16. Warm Mineral Springs
Warm Mineral Springs is the only warm water natural spring in Florida. It is a constant 85 degrees year round.
Many people visit this South Florida spring for its therapeutic healing properties. Warm Mineral Springs is known for having one of the highest mineral contents of any natural spring in the United States.
Location: North Port, FL
17. Lithia Springs
Lithia Springs was the very first Florida spring I ever visited because it’s just outside of Tampa. It’s a regional park of Hillsborough county with picnic areas and camping. The waters are clear and there’s a sandy beach entry into the waters of the head spring. It can get pretty deep so you want to have flotation devices if you’re not a strong swimmer or just a lazy one like me.
Location: Lithia, FL (Tampa)
18. Crystal Springs Preserve
Crystal Springs is one of the springs that is sourced by Zephyrhills bottled water. They run educational programs at this preserve and allow visitors by appointment. You can’t swim in the springs but you can visit and learn about the ecosystem and wildlife through their programs.
Location: Zephyrhills, FL
19. Fanning Springs
Fanning Spring is 72 degrees year round with spectacular turquoise waters and swimming area just outside the Suwanne River. Inside the state park you can picnic and take a nature hike through the surrounding woodlands.
Location: Fanning Springs, FL
20. Ginnie Springs
Ginnie Springs is a privately run nature park where you can explore one of the 7 springs, camp, kayak, or float on the river. It’s a popular place and known for it’s amazing turquoise waters.
Location: High Springs, FL
Commonly Asked Questions about the Natural Springs In Florida
1: How many natural springs are there in Florida?
Florida is home to more than 1000 natural springs according to geologists. Florida is home to more 1st and 2nd magnitude springs than any other state in the U.S. and the most freshwater springs in the world.
2: How were the Florida springs made?
The springs of Florida are a result of the karst topography of the state. The porous limestone rock that covers the state dissolves in water and creates a solution of H2O and CO2. The solution then rises to the surface as a spring. You can see this in action as a spring boil near many of the springs.
3: What is the largest spring in Florida?
Wakulla Spring is the largest and deepest freshwater spring in the world. It is up to 350 feet deep with 32 miles of cave systems beneath the surface.
4. Are there alligators in the Florida springs?
Some of these springs can be home to alligators but most with designated swimming areas are safe from alligators in the water. Smaller less-trafficked tributaries and shore areas should be avoided to lessen the chance for an encounter. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, alligators stop feeding when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the constant cold water of the springs is not an ideal place for them to stay.
5. Can you swim in the natural springs of Florida?
Many of the Florida springs permit swimming in designated areas, however, there are some springs where swimming is not permitted.
Listen to the Florida Springs Audio Tour
How to Protect the Florida Springs
While the natural springs of Florida are great for recreation, they are also crucial to the environment and the ecosystem of the state. Here are a few ways you can help protect the natural springs of Florida.
1: Don’t litter in or around the springs when you visit.
2: Try not to stir up vegetation and sediment in the body of the spring.
3: Limit motorized boating in springfed rivers and near head springs.
4: Be mindful of fertilizer use and septic tanks as the runoff can contribute to nutrients entering the aquifer.