Best Swimming Holes in Florida

Posted by
Amanda Baseler
March 21, 2024
Updated June 27, 2024

Ginnie Springs in Florida
Ginni Springs: Erin Westgate

With a plethora of freshwater springs and tide pools in the Sunshine State, a beautiful swimming hole is easy to find in Florida.

Visiting the beach in Florida is only one way to get out and enjoy the water and sunshine., Florida has over 1,000 recognized freshwater springs across the state and many of these springs are also open to swimming. Often surrounded by large cypress trees, oaks, and other lush vegetation, the spring water is almost always an idyllic 72 degrees and clear. Swimming holes are perfect places to relax, gather with friends and family, and experience the Sunshine State’s rich marine history and diversity. 

Growing up in the southeast, the Gulf Coast of Florida was my family’s closest opportunity to visit the beach. Exploring the white, sandy beaches and splashing in the green waves of the ocean are some of my fondest memories with my family and childhood friends. It wasn’t until a recent trip with my own son that I discovered some nearby tide pools. The calmer water allowed us to explore in the sand, see fish swimming around our toes, and watch boats coming in and out of the harbor. 

From freshwater springs to calm tide pools, here are six of Florida’s best swimming holes. 


Ginnie Springs

Nearest town: High Springs, Florida

Ginni Springs
Ginni Springs: Photo – Sydni Rose

Hike to swimming hole: 5 minute walk (0.3 miles) from the main parking lot, though you may score some parking at the Ginnie Bath House, just next to the spring. 

Located in northern central Florida, Ginnie Springs Outdoors is a 200 acre private nature park that is open to visitors year-round. Within the park, there are seven different springs to choose from as well as access to the Sante Fe River, which is popular for tubing. Take a dip in the clear and warm spring water, rent snorkeling gear from their general store to explore the marine life below the surface, or bring an inflatable tube to relax in the sun. Ginnie Springs also offers kayak and stand up paddle board rentals as well as scuba diving for certified divers.

Make it a day trip or spend the night at one of their 123+ campsites spread out across their property. The park offers both reservable water and electric sites and first-come, first-served dispersed camping, some of which are right on the water. 

Bottom Line: Plan on a few days so you can enjoy all the activities available.


Wekiwa Springs State Park

Nearest town: Apopoka, FL

Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs: Photo – Lucky Photographer

Hike to swimming hole: 2 minute walk from the parking lot on Wekiwa Circle to Wekiwa Springs.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is a popular swimming hole that has the look of a natural swimming pool, located in Apopoka. The spring is almost a half-acre in size yet the park still reaches capacity quite often, so visiting early or during the off-season is recommended for a more relaxed experience. Along the springs are large grassy areas for sitting and picnicking and the park also offers a couple of pavilions to rent for group gatherings or reunions. 

The water is shallow and warm, at around 72 degrees at all times. Snorkeling is a popular activity in the water, however jumping, diving, and scuba diving are not allowed. For individuals with a disability who cannot enter the spring via the stairs, Wekiwa Springs offers an accessible swim lift that can be used to lower someone into the spring. 

Bottom Line: Plan your trip early to this popular swimming hole, and bring the family.


Norriego Point Tide Pools

Nearest town: Destin, FL

Norriego Point tide pool
Norriego Point tide pool: Photo – Amanda Baseler

Hike to swimming hole: 5 minute walk from the closest street parking (.3 miles). Once you leave the road, the walk is through deep sand. 

When visiting Destin, Norriego Point Tide Pools is a beautiful place to visit that gives you the best of both worlds: beach access with calmer waters. Norriego Point is a peninsula with several tide pools on one side to choose from, each protected by a rocky barrier with even some roped off to boats or jet skis. At low tide, the pools are a perfect place for younger kids where you can spend time looking for hermit crabs, wade with curious fish, and even watch pelicans hunt for food.

The tide pools are usually knee to waist deep, making it a comfortable depth for almost anyone. On the other side of the peninsula is Destin Harbor, so there is steady boat traffic that is fun to watch glide by. There is no fee to enter but there is a fee for public parking, and it can be a challenge to find a spot.  

Please note that when exploring new tide pools, it is important to review the local tidal charts as low tide is the safest time to visit these in Florida. You should also wear secure footwear, heed all warnings and safety precautions, and be respectful of the delicate ecosystems found in tide pools. 

Bottom Line: Norriego is worth it, but parking is a problem. If you see street parking, snag it.


Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee State Park

Nearest town: Weeki Wachee, FL

Weeki Wachee state park
Weeki Wachee State Park: Photo – Panpilas L

Hike to swimming hole: 3 minute walk from the parking lot to Buccaneer Bay as you walk through the park.

Described as one of the most iconic symbols of tourism in Florida, Weeki Wachee State Park is a popular road trip from Tampa and famous for its daily mermaid shows that take place in the Weeki Wachee Spring. Before your swim, grab tickets to this unique performance – a tradition that has been continued for over 60 years! Located just an hour north of the city, this state park is also home to the deepest known freshwater cave in the United States.

Swimming in Weeki Wachee Spring happens in the developed Buccaneer Bay, which hosts a variety of fun water experiences. From water slides to floating along the lazy river around the swimming area, there are a variety of options for each person’s level of adventure. The Bay even has what’s called the Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove, which is made especially for kids ages six and under. Unlike many natural springs or swimming holes, Buccaneer Bay does provide lifeguards on duty. 

Bottom Line: This is a great spot for families with kids for the mermaids alone.


Ichetucknee Springs & Blue Hole Spring

Nearest town: Fort White, FL

Ichetucknee Springs
Ichetucknee Springs: Photo – Joanna Dale

Hike to swimming hole: 2 minute walk from the parking lot to Ichetucknee Spring. If you are heading to Blue Spring, you’ll take the Blue Hole Trail, which is about .5 miles.

If you are an experienced swimmer who wants an adventure, look no further than Blue Hole Spring at Ichetucknee Springs State Park, located in Fort White. Blue Hole Spring is home to an expansive underwater cave system that does not begin until 40 feet below the water’s surface. Blue Hole Spring is popular within the diving community, who also refer to it as “Jug Spring.” It’s also the only spring at the park that allows diving.

If you are not comfortable with deep water, you can swim in Ichetucknee Spring, the other swimming-designated spring among the eight that can be found within the park. At Ichetucknee Spring has options for everyone, with a shallow section that is perfect for sitting and exploring around the rocks just below the surface, and a deeper area for swimming. There is also a lift available for accessible access to the spring. After swimming, enjoy one of the several trails around the park, or a float down the spring-fed Ichetucknee River.

Bottom Line: Level up your swimming hole experience up a notch with a dip, or a dive, in the Blue Hole Spring. 


Juniper Spring

Nearest town: Silver Springs, FL

Juniper Springs in Florida
Juniper Springs: Photo – Harry B Lamb

Hike to swimming hole: 2 minutes, or around 500 feet. 

Just outside of Ocala, you can find Juniper Spring, a well-known recreation destination along the east coast within the Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Juniper spring is one of two springs within the recreation area but is the only one that allows swimming. The location of the spring gives you an idea as to why it is so popular. While it is only 100 feet wide, it is surrounded by a rustic-looking brick wall and just outside of the swimming area is a watermill which was built in the 1930’s and now serves as the visitor center. 

If you’re looking for more than swimming, Juniper Springs feeds into Juniper Run, which is a popular canoe and kayak day trip. The waterway winds seven miles through the dense forest of the Juniper Prairie Wilderness Area and ReserveAmerica named it one of the top 25 canoe runs in the country. While this isn’t an activity for small children (the suggested age is 12 and older), it is an experience that isn’t soon to be forgotten. 

Bottom Line: Juniper Springs is a crowd pleaser for the older group thanks to a number of activities that take a little more skill.

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