Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Ginnie Springs, Florida
Ginnie Springs is known as one of the world’s best swimming holes, and these photos will inspire you to see for yourself.
Fun Facts About Ginnie Springs
- Ginnie Springs sits on 250 acres of wooded land right on the Santa Fe River.
- The springs remain a constant 72 degrees year-round.
- The unique underwater cave system and crystal clear springs make Ginnie Springs the world’s favorite freshwater dive. Jacques Cousteau dove here in 1974!
Read More About Ginnie Springs
- Planning A Camping Trip at Ginnie Springs Outdoors
- Florida Bucket List: Chilling and Grilling at Ginnie Springs
- Ginnie Springs: Florida’s Secret Natural Waterpark
When To Visit Ginnie Springs
Ginnie Springs Outdoors is open year-round, so you can take advantage of Central Florida’s balmy weather almost any time of year. We usually visit in early May so it’s not yet boiling hot during the day, nights can be pleasantly cool and the crowds haven’t gotten too bad. I’ve camped in January as well, but it rained the whole time and was very chilly. Where May through September are almost guaranteed to be in the 90s, winter is a bit of a guessing game in Florida. It can be 90 or 30 degrees (F) from one day to the next – so stick to more temperate spring or fall months if weather is a concern.
The best time to visit Ginnie Springs for a taste of the great outdoors is midweek. It’s quieter then, and you’ll likely meet more squirrels and birds than campers. On Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, Ginnie Springs fills to capacity with revelers, loud, wild and often drunk. Holiday weekends tend to be about the party atmosphere. It’s not unusual to hear booming music, fireworks and shouting until the wee hours of the morning, and then again at sunrise when everyone wakes up to do it all over again.
If you’re on the hunt for a peaceful place to camp in Florida, Ginnie Springs on a weekend (holiday or otherwise) is rarely going to deliver that experience. Plan accordingly!
Things to Do at Ginnie Springs
There’s so much to do at Ginnie Springs, you certainly won’t be bored if you camp for a few days or even a week!
Ginnie’s seven powerful springs pump their cold, clear water into the Santa Fe River, which snakes its way through the campground. On a hot summer day, it’s not unusual to see hundreds of people launching every imaginable flotation device at the top of the tube run. Provided the weather has been good and not too rainy, the Santa Fe River is often clear, so you can drift snorkel all the way down if you like.
Tubes are available for rent from $6-$12 for the day. (Life jackets are free!) There is no transportation provided, so it does take some creativity in planning to get dropped off at the launch and picked up at Twin Spring, the last exit for the tube run. The campground is very walkable, but it’s not always easy to exit the river and then carry a cumbersome float through the woods. It’s always nice to have someone with a truck waiting to pick you up after the 90-minute experience.
Kayaking, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Canoeing
Rather paddle down the river? You’ve got rental options starting at $12. You can also bring your own and launch in the springs or on the shore of the Santa Fe. There’s also a small boat ramp for motored craft, but know that there are hundreds if not thousands of swimmers in the river at any time, so it’s no place to open up the old engine.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Only certified cavern and cave divers are allowed to explore the lengthy spring system including Devil’s Ear, Devil’s Eye and Devil’s Spring. There are huge signs posted near the wooden stairs into the springs announcing the danger – divers have died here, so it’s no place for amateurs. If you know what you’re doing though, this is a bucket list dive. Check out my friend Alex’s diving experience here.
If you’re not into the technical dives (I’m not!), you can hire a guide and dive at the mouth of the caves, in the springs and in the river. And the water is so clear here, even the snorkeling is remarkable. You can rent all the underwater gear you need at the Ginnie Store.
There are lighted sand volleyball courts throughout the campground and covered pavilions for grilling and chilling. You can rent volleyballs and footballs, and there are plenty of fun camping and outdoor goodies to pick up at the Ginnie store if you forget anything at home.
Ginnie Springs Prices
Day Pass – $15+
Ginnie Springs is some of the coolest camping in Florida, but even day trips (8 a.m. – sunset) are easy to do from Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and Jacksonville. Prices start at around $15 for adults.
Camping – $23+
Tent camping is around $23 per adult, per night, and kids are $6.50. With a large deposit, you can reserve a specific section for your group of friends. That’s what we’ve done for 20 years and it’s the only way to ensure you all end up together. If you’re not bringing a big group, it’s easy to drive around until you find a free campsite that appeals to you.
The earlier you arrive on Friday (or better yet, Thursday night), the better your chances of finding the perfect campsite. Late Friday arrivals tend to end up in the back of the woods.
TIP: Find a campsite that’s easy walking distance to one of the bath houses, but not right next door. You’ll find hearing your fellow campers frolicking back and forth to the restroom all night in various states of inebriation can get annoying.
Ginnie Cottage – $175+
The Ginnie Cottage sleeps up to eight adults and books well in advance. It’s not on a spring or the river, but it’s within walking distance.
TIP: You can sign the safety waiver online before you go to save time at the registration desk. It can get very busy on weekends!
What to Pack for a Weekend at Ginnie Springs
I’ve written a much more extensive list of things to bring to Ginnie Springs, but there are a few absolute must-haves to make your trip extra special and efficient. For my super easy-to-use Ginnie Springs shopping list on Amazon, click here.
A Cool Raft
Twenty years ago, everyone rented the standard blue or pink branded Ginnie Springs tubes. But now, it’s almost a competition to see who’ll have the coolest, biggest, most unique rafts on the Santa Fe. I’ve seen 12-ft. tall flamingoes and 18-person round islands, bigger than any boat on the river.
Those are fun to photograph, but keep in mind, bigger is not always better when it comes to rafts… you have to steer it, transport it, inflate it and deflate it. If you’re floating a larger-than-life unicorn down the river without a paddle, that is not ideal, but of course it happens every year. The inexperienced river tubers end up stuck in a tree along the edge of the other side of the river with 14 non-swimmers and no idea how to get back to camp. You can’t go wrong with simple tubes or floats.
TIP: Air is free at the Ginnie store, so you can fill your many inflatables with reckless abandon.
A Quick Set Up Tent
We’ve taken every kind of tent to Ginnie Springs – huge mansions with many rooms and cheap, tiny tents that you can’t even stand up in. Our new favorite is the Instant Cabin Tent. We’re done with setup in less than five minutes and we can get right to grilling or swimming instead of spending hours trying to find the right tent poles.
TIP: A tree in a shady spot is great to keep it cool, but look up before you plant yourself under a tree. Make sure there are no precariously hanging branches right above you!
Sunscreen, Insect Repellant and a First Aid Kit
Camping basics! Ginnie Springs Outdoors might seem like an easy-breezy water park, but it’s the great outdoors. The real deal! That means you can find all manner of wild animals there, from alligators to snakes to Florida’s state bird, the mosquito.
The one question we get every years after we visit Ginnie is, “OMG. Aren’t you afraid of alligators!??!”
Sure, alligators are pretty scary and yes, we have seen them here. But if you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you. And there are so many other people in the water, chances are they’ll get eaten before you do.
KIDDING. As far as I know, no one has ever been eaten by an alligator at Ginnie Springs. So don’t let that stop you from a fun weekend.
Point is, anything can happen and you can pretty much expect someone to get injured. Bringing some hefty SPF, some heavy-duty bug spray and a hardcore first aid kit will go a long way toward making sure you don’t end up at the closest urgent care facility, which is almost an hour away.
I’m a light sleeper. These earplugs are the only reason I can last a whole weekend.
What to pack for Florida camping trip
Of course you’ll remember the essentials, but what about the things you didn’t know you needed like a clothesline, eco-friendly garbage bags and an underwater camera? Oh yea, we’ve thought of everything. Check out our full list of what to pack (and what to leave at home) right here!
We absolutely love camping at Ginnie Springs and hope this has inspired you to plan a camping trip to Florida. See you on the river!
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