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OW Florida Springs over Thanksgiving -- Crowds?

Discussion in 'Cave Diving' started by MrVegas, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. MrVegas

    MrVegas Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ohio
    If I should be posting this in the Florida forum instead of here, please move the thread (or excoriate me as appropriate), but I figured those in this forum would know.

    If flights can be reasonable, I am pondering a possible Thanksgiving trip to do some family diving (not cave diving) to check out the springs -- probably choosing a few out of Blue Grotto, Devil's Den, Paradise Springs, Ginnie, or maybe Alexander. Never dove in the springs before. We're AOW -- lots of cold, murky quarry dives, and the occasional lucky dive someplace south in warm, clear water.

    Anyway, the real question is -- is it crazy crowded over Thanksgiving weekend, or a good time to go? Any thoughts would be welcome. I guess the potential second question is, more fun to try to do a cavern class, or just dive?
  2. rddvet

    rddvet DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Florida
    The springs are often shockingly quiet on a lot of holidays. We’ve dove 4th of july, new year’s, Christmas, thanksgiving, and Memorial Day. Most of the time it’s dead. Whenever we think we’re crazy for going on a holiday we’re always pleasantly surprised.
  3. Caveeagle

    Caveeagle Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: High Springs, FL
    If you have the time, I defiantly recommend taking a cavern class. One great thing about these spots, is that you can catch a dive or two after class for only the cost of fills.

    Blue Grotto and Paradise can both get very silty. It only takes a few sloppy divers to ruin the viz for several hours. If you have decent buoyancy and can stay off the bottom, you can have a nice dive, but I think you will have more fun with the proper training to be proficient In these caverns.

    The Ball Room at Ginnie it pretty hard to silt out, so it’s much more forgiving.

    Orange Grove is another spot that allows OW divers, but I would check on conditions before you set out.

    If you do decide to get your cavern cert, you can Dive Itchetucknee Blue Hole (aka Jug). It requires a cavern cert, but is an absolutely amazing place.
  4. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
    If you can make it over to Marianna Jackson Blue has one of the best caverns anywhere

    Oh and for sure do the cavern class, you'll quadruple your diving options and see way more interesting stuff
    fish149 likes this.
  5. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    Just go dive, and have some fun. If you like it come back for a cavern class,but if you don't think you will make many trips back to Florida or Mexico Cenotes, the cavern class will give you additional skills,but may not be something you use.

    You mentioned some nice springs, and I doubt they will be overrun with people, and should have a good visit. The plus is that when it gets colder the algae blooms disappear and will improve water clarity. I would add Troy Springs to your list, and Catfish Hotel at Manatee Springs state park. The state parks are very cheap, which is a plus.
  6. MrVegas

    MrVegas Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ohio
    I really appreciate all of the responses. Folks are really helpful here. I guess I have to plan my own darn trip, but for those willing to offer a little more feedback, I did have a few more questions:

    1. It looks like we'll be spending most of our time a little south of Gainesville. Is there anywhere down that direction where we can pick up a few steel tanks to rent? (Yoke, LP85, HP100 or HP80?) Not a big deal, we can always rent aluminum at the dive sites, but would just prefer not to carry an extra 4 pounds of lead if possible.
    2. Best shot at seeing manatees in late November? Snorkel on Crystal River, dive\snorkel Rainbow River, dive\snorkel Manatee springs? (I know there are restrictions on how close you can get to them and snorkeling is preferred for manatee watching -- just curious.)
    3. Is Ginnie Springs a "must see" type of thing? (In other words, is everyone going to ask me when I get back if I dove Ginnie?) There's only a few days, so I will have to pick and choose. I am a little concerned about trying to have a calm day of diving at a site where the written rules actually have to include a warning about no beer bongs or funnels. Maybe that won't be an issue in November, though.

    It looks like there will be plenty to do in the time allotted, so I think the cavern class will wait for now. If we go back (which I am guessing will happen at some point), then we'll look further north and definitely do the cavern class. It looks like many of the areas north\east of Gainesville really offer more options with at least a cavern certification.

    Thanks so much again.
  7. DeepSeaExplorer

    DeepSeaExplorer Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cave Country
    By November, Ginnie is mostly cave divers. Most of the topside stuff has quieted down by then.
    Johnoly likes this.
  8. Johnoly

    Johnoly ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Still Crystal river for that area and time of year. But the water temp at Thanksgiving are still toasty warm in the rivers to the manatee so they are going to take their sweet "fat-ass" time munching on river food before hitting the springs. There still might be 1 or 2 around, but not hundreds like in February. You can always give Birds Underwater a call since they will have an up to the minute count usually.

    It's Thanksgiving and most everyone goes home to spend time with family, so you won't see beer bongs that holiday weekend. But there is something you need to watch for with all the springs in the area>>> The Ocean's Weather. See that's a 4 day weekend and plenty of divers will 'road trip' down to the southeast of florida hoping for some flat calm warm water dives. Especially if they drove past the springs on the way down and have to go back that way no matter what. But if the ocean weather turns into 4-6ft waves, then all the springs will get busy with divers who now have that as their "backup" plan. Ginnie is higher priced than the rest of the springs so that will push them to the other state park springs in the area. Also T-Giving is a big OW class weekend because shops can knock out all the dives in one weekend. Long and short of it, you won't know until you get down here if the weather turned to crud and everyone headed to the springs.

    Remember the golden rule of cave/cavern/all dive classes>>>>>>IT'S THE INSTRUCTOR, that makes the difference and how much you like the class. Do your research on the teacher. Adjusting/changing the location, price, and day schedule is usually easier to work out.
  9. MrVegas

    MrVegas Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ohio
    This is all really helpful -- thanks! I think I have a rough itinerary now. I'll report back after its over if anyone is interested. It's great to get input like this.
    Johnoly likes this.
  10. chrisreedrules

    chrisreedrules Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Northeast Florida
    Blue Grotto and Devil’s Den can be a little pricey but they’re both pretty cool dives in their own right. Maybe a little vanilla for many of the experienced cave and tech divers that frequent this subforum but they are cool nonetheless.

    I’ve dove both several times and they can be an absolute blast or a a mess depending on the number of other divers present. The vis can drop a bit (more an issue in Blue Grotto than Devil’s Den in my opinion) when there are a ton of inexperienced divers silting it up. Blue Grotto is a wonderful experience if it isn’t busy. I’ve had it all to myself once and it was super clear and peaceful. One of my favorite dives I’ve done so far.
    MrVegas and DeepSeaExplorer like this.

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