Florida Freshwater Solo Report

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bradymsu

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I'd seen conflicting information online about whether Blue Grotto in Williston, Florida permits solo diving. I emailed Blue Grotto back in December and was told that they permit solo diving with a Solo Diver certification card and gear appropriate for solo diving. They did not define what that gear requirement is but I took it to mean either doubles, an independent pony, or (dual) sidemount.

When I arrived last week to check in, Blue Grotto immediately asked who my dive buddy was. I told them I was diving solo. They said no problem as long as I provide proof of solo certification. They did not ask to see my gear although I informed them I was diving doubles. Two additional requirements for solo diving were the need to fill out a solo diver liability waiver in addition to the standard waiver and a request to check out before leaving. Blue Grotto also asked if I was an instructor. I had my instructor card with me although it expired in 2006. I informed them it was long expired and that I wasn't teaching. They gave me a 15% instructor discount anyway.

Ginnie Springs allowed me to dive solo with proof of a full cave certification which they spell out on their website. Ginnie Springs offers a 25% discount to full cave divers regardless of whether they are diving solo or with a buddy. The do not allow solo diving with just a Solo certification.

The United States Forest Service had no issue with me solo diving at Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest. They simply held my certification card until I checked out. No discount on the day use fee which they charged me even after I showed them my federal America the Beautiful pass.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission has no restrictions on solo diving in Buford & Eagles Nest through the permit I obtained for Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area.

I didn't make it to Vortex Springs on this trip as planned but they told me they allow solo diving with a full cave certification similar to Ginnie.

Most local government properties such as Royal, Little River, Hunter, Jackson Blue, and Morrison Springs allow solo diving.

Two commercial facilities, Devil's Den and Paradise Springs, do not allow solo diving regardless of certification. Also, Florida State Parks do not allow solo diving which excludes some popular springs, all of which except Manatee were blown out last week anyway. Oddly, the Florida State Parks seem to have an ambiguous policy about solo freediving which appears more dangerous especially since many freedivers ignore the no overhead environment rule. I spoke with a half dozen freedivers on the trip. All of them were animated in discussing it. They say Florida scuba divers often look down on them or give them a hard time about being in the springs.

All in all, I found plenty of high quality solo diving opportunities while camping in freshwater Florida last week.
 

Divin'Papaw

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Great summary! Much appreciated. One of these days I’ll make it back to spring country for some freshwater diving. My last dip in freshwater was New Years Day 2016 @ Gilboa Quarry!
 

EFX

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I'd seen conflicting information online about whether Blue Grotto in Williston, Florida permits solo diving. I emailed Blue Grotto back in December and was told that they permit solo diving with a Solo Diver certification card and gear appropriate for solo diving. They did not define what that gear requirement is but I took it to mean either doubles, an independent pony, or (dual) sidemount.

When I arrived last week to check in, Blue Grotto immediately asked who my dive buddy was. I told them I was diving solo. They said no problem as long as I provide proof of solo certification. They did not ask to see my gear although I informed them I was diving doubles. Two additional requirements for solo diving were the need to fill out a solo diver liability waiver in addition to the standard waiver and a request to check out before leaving. Blue Grotto also asked if I was an instructor. I had my instructor card with me although it expired in 2006. I informed them it was long expired and that I wasn't teaching. They gave me a 15% instructor discount anyway.

I dive solo there frequently and it is as you say above. The last time I went they asked me if I had an alternate air source which I did. You only need to fill out the solo diver liability waiver once. I have to fill out the standard waiver form for each visit.
 

tarponchik

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Also, Florida State Parks do not allow solo diving ...
Only in freshwater? I did so many solo dives under Blue Heron Bridge, along Dania Erojacks and in some other parks I lost count.
 

Manatee Diver

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Only in freshwater? I did so many solo dives under Blue Heron Bridge, along Dania Erojacks and in some other parks I lost count.

BHB is a county park.
 
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bradymsu

bradymsu

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Only in freshwater? I did so many solo dives under Blue Heron Bridge, along Dania Erojacks and in some other parks I lost count.

My OP was too generalized. It should have said that most (or all) Florida State Parks with freshwater springs don't allow solo diving. That's what I was focusing on. I have no knowledge of solo diving rules in Florida state parks on salt water.
 

Divin'Papaw

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My OP was too generalized. It should have said that most (or all) Florida State Parks with freshwater springs don't allow solo diving. That's what I was focusing on. I have no knowledge of solo diving rules in Florida state parks on salt water.

The Florida parks that are on saltwater (ocean, bay, or lagoon) be they state, county or city I do not believe forbid solo diving. The only requirement is a dive flag. They really aren't staffed to police how someone is diving. Either diving is allowed or it's not. If it is and you are using a flag I can't imagine anyone stopping you from solo diving. Parks that have springs and caverns are an entirely different matter due to the yahoos that like to kill themselves in the caverns/caves out of sheer stupidity.
 
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