The corals and wrecks of the Keys, the
Jacques Cousteau visited here once and stated it had “Visibility forever”
If you don’t have a cave card they will issue you an open water wristband and you will only be allowed in certain spots. If they find you wandering into places you are not qualified to be in they will ask you to leave the park.
I had yet to take any Tech or Cave training when I visited here so I was limited to the open water locations as well. They do host several instructors who provide training on site but I am sure you would need to make arrangements with them before you show up. I was pretty happy just diving what they call the ballroom.
The Ballroom is located right behind the dive shop. There is a large parking lot and picnic area with BBQ’s and tables. There is easy access to a small shallow basin that is a great place for swimming or snorkeling. The basin empties into the
Just inside this basin you will see a large opening in the limestone. Welcome to the ballroom. There is a lot of natural light that gets in through the entrance but you want to bring a light to explore the whole cavern because there are some dark spots.
If you go straight in and go down to the bottom right of the cavern you will see a small steel grate that covers the aquifer that supplies 35 million gallons of warm clear water to this spring every day. If you approach the grate head on you will exhaust yourself swimming into the torrent and just float away so you need to go to either side of it and move sideways until you are directly in front of it. You can hold on to the grate and feel the power of the water as it rushes past and then let go and be swept back into the cavern, it is far safer than it sounds a pretty fun thing to do actually.
The deepest point in the cavern is about 50’ deep. And it is large enough to explore on a single tank dive. There was not much life to see just a couple small fish and a river eel that was about 3 ‘long. For someone who has never been in a cave or cavern this is a great place to go. Further down the
There are grates in place and signage to warn you that without the proper training and equipment divers are forbidden to enter. They do not allow open water divers to have a light with them to further discourage you from wandering into a place that you should not be in.
Though it is more suited to experienced cave divers an open water guy like me can still have a great time. So put this on your list if you want to try something a little exciting and different from a regular open water dive. You won’t regret it.