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Where the clear spring water meets the dark Suwannee River

February 2, 2024

Off the Beaten Path Natural Springs in Florida

Florida is blessed with over 700 vividly blue and undeniably picturesque natural springs that rival any proposed beach trip. While some are designated state parks or populated tourist attractions, Suwannee County boasts some of the most remarkable watering holes without the drawback of major crowds. These secluded springs promise tranquility, opportunities for sightseeing, and, during the warmer months, a delightful excuse to cool off. Whether you’re searching for your next Instagram-worthy locale, a new hiking spot, or a place to dip your toes, Suwannee County seamlessly combines the best qualities natural springs have to offer with quaint small-town charm.

Lesser-Visited Natural Springs in Suwannee

While Suwannee Springs is the most renowned spring in Suwannee County due to its historic legacy as one of Florida’s original tourist destinations, it’s just one of many springs in the region. To really appreciate the allure of natural springs, it’s best to veer off the beaten path, away from the crowds and immersed in the surrounding wildlife.

Charles Spring: Live Oak, FL

Charles Spring in Live Oak, Florida, is a historic natural spring with crystal-clear blue-green waters, surrounded by lush greenery and a sandy shoreline.
Take a dip in Charles Spring.

Open from sunrise to sunset, Charles Springs is rather shallow with a depth of 2 to 10 feet, which makes this watering hole and designated historic site perfect for swimming.

Falmouth Spring: Live Oak, FL

Falmouth Spring in Live Oak, Florida features a unique, multi-vent spring system with clear blue waters, surrounded by vibrant green vegetation and a rustic wooden boardwalk.
Relax and recharge beside Falmouth Spring.

Falmouth Spring sees a daily flow of over 65 million gallons of emerald water, forming the illusion of an elongated pool. Despite being mistakenly dubbed the shortest river in the world, Falmouth is, in fact, a karst window, revealing a direct exposure of an aquifer to the surface.

Blue Hole Spring: Fort White, FL

Blue Hole in Fort White, Florida displays stunningly clear blue waters in a circular, natural limestone basin, fringed by lush greenery and overhanging trees perfect for viewing wildlife.
Snorkel in the remote paradise of Blue Hole Spring

If you enjoy snorkeling or diving this is a pristine spot for you. Blue Hole Spring is a first-magnitude spring that provides a chance to delve into the underwater surroundings and appreciate the natural beauty of this spring.

Orange Grove Sink: O’Brien, FL

Orange Grove Sink in O'Brien, Florida features picturesque underwater caverns with crystal clear waters, surrounded by a dense canopy of trees and rich aquatic vegetation.
Explore the underwater caves of Orange Grove Sink

Located within the cave diver’s paradise of Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park, Orange Grove Sink is idyllic for cave diving, open water diving, and swimming. Beyond tourists, Orange Grove Sink’s signature green layer of Duckweed attracts fish, ducks, and geese.

The Beauty of Suwannee County’s Natural Springs

A view of a spring run that leads out to the Suwannee River

Florida’s springs, in hues of turquoise and emerald, surrounded by vibrant wildflowers and shaded by lush live oaks, are not just visually stunning—they owe their abundance to the state’s subsurface. Composed of limestone and dolomite, Florida’s underground layers dissolve with the slightly acidic rainwater, forming openings as it permeates the ground. These springs, concentrated in northern and north-central Florida where these rocks are closer to the surface, emerge as pressurized groundwater flows through natural openings.

Activities and Adventures in Florida’s Natural Springs

Our freshwater springs are nature’s swimming pool

Apart from photography opportunities, the springs’ 72-degree temperatures are perfect for year-round swimming. Springs with underwater caves give way to exploration by certified cave divers while open-water swimming and tubing is a local pastime that doesn’t call for prerequisite training. Embrace the calm of the lesser-visited springs with wildlife viewing and relaxing hikes.

Exploring the Suwannee River

The inspiration behind Stephen Foster’s most notable song, the Suwannee River is the only unspoiled major waterway in the southeastern United States. Extending 246 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and cutting through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, a whopping 197 springs have been reported along the basin and Suwannee County has some of the most pristine.

Planning Your Visit to Suwannee’s Natural Springs

Because natural springs stay a consistent 72 degrees year-round, one can get their feet wet any time of year, but if you prefer to skip the outdoor chill, visiting from April to November is always a safe bet. Parking is available at each hidden-gem spring on this list and while Falmouth and Charles Springs are free and open to the public, Orange Grove Sink and Devil’s Eye are located within state parks and require an admission fee.

Leave No Trace: Visiting Responsibly

To preserve the beauty of these natural springs for future generations, it’s important to abide by the Leave No Trace principles. Remember to collect any and all items brought with you and properly dispose of any litter. Respect both flora and fauna by keeping a safe distance and leaving natural elements where they were found.

For more about our springs, check out our spring trail here.

Written by Hayli Zuccola

Woman holding dog sitting in a field of flowers

Hayli Zuccola has been a freelance writer for the last eight years for both digital and print publications across north central Florida. She enjoys traveling, finding the best food spots and spending time with her pets. You can find her latest adventures on Instagram @hayztravels.

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