Paradise Springs Dive Plan
By Danny Cundiff
Paradise Springs is located on privately owned property in the Ocala area.
4040 S.E. 84th Lane Rd
Ocala, Florida 34480
Paradise Springs opens at 8 am Monday through Sunday. You must be out of the water by 6 pm.
Paradise Springs is open seven days a week, year round, with the exception Christmas Day.
As this is a small, privately owned operation, its best to call ahead and let them know you are coming during the week.
Driving directions from Dayo Scuba Dive Center:
Paradise Springs is approximately 1.5 hours drive time from Dayo Scuba Dive Center.
· Leave the dive center and turn left (south) on Executive Dr toward Gay Rd and turn left onto Gay Road.
· At the end of Gay Road, turn right onto N Orlando Ave/US-17/US-92
· Turn right at W Fairbanks Ave/FL-424A/FL-426, and continue to towards I-4, make a left to merge onto I-4 W
· Take exit 82A to merge onto FL-408 W Toll road
· Take the exit (you actually merge) onto FL-91/Florida's Turnpike toward Ocala, heading north.
· The turnpike merges with I-75 North in Wildwood, follow this until you get to the Belleview exit (the next one) and head east to Pine Avenue (hwy 301-441-27)
· Turn left and travel north, and after you leave the city limits start looking for the sign on the right side of the road.
· As the roadway (301 & 441) divides, you will see a mailbox with a dive flag next to a dirt road. Follow the dirt road about a half mile, crossing the railroad tracks, to Paradise Springs.
As at June 2009 the diver entry fee is $30.
All divers must check in with the owner at his garage. If you haven’t dived there before, they will ask you to watch the informational video. Make sure you watch the video, sign the required waivers, and pay the owner before proceeding to the water.
All divers must show proof of certification before diving (or be under the supervision of a diving instructor). Dive within your certification level!
Normal Arrival Time:
Get to Paradise Springs, and into the water as soon as you can. While there is no diver limit per day, this site can get very silty, and the number of divers in the system before you increases the chances that it will get messy. The silt is very thick and doesn’t settle easily, so once stirred up the visibility will stay poor all day. Get in the water as fast as you can: be there and in the water by 9am at the latest on weekends. Weekdays are less crowded.
Amenities available at Paradise Springs:
· Restroom/Changing Room
· Outdoor Showers
· Picnic Tables and a gazebo
There is some shade overhead from the trees, but it’s often hot here. Don’t be afraid to walk down to the water to cool off.
Diving Paradise Springs:
* Dive within your depth limitations, i.e. open water divers are restricted to a depth limit of 60 feet.
* Solo diving not permitted in Paradise Springs, if you do not have a buddy, you may not dive there.
* Lights are allowed, and should be used as this can be a dark dive!
The surface of Paradise Springs is quite small, but underneath it opens up considerably. Follow the buoy line down to a debris cone at about 20 feet. To the left of this is a small “room” that has a platform to practice skills on.
The main part of this dive is to the right. At about 20 feet, a large tunnel drops down at a 90 degree angle. A line runs down along the ceiling, all the way down to the grim reaper sign at 100 feet, or you can run your own line along the bottom/sides. Open water divers should stop at 60 feet (their depth limit). For advanced/cavern/cave divers, there is a Grim Reaper classic warning sign at 100 feet. After 100 feet you loose all surface light and the shaft tightens and drops to 140 ft. at this point you are in the cave! Do NOT penetrate this cave unless you have the appropriate training and equipment. Visibility in the cave goes to zero very quickly with a careless fin kick.
To maximize you dive time, you should spend a few minutes on the bottom, and work your way back up the slope (reeling your line in if necessary). At the top, you can explore the debris cone on your safety stop, there is lots to look at here (see if you can spot the dinosaur!).
Treat this as a serious dive. The bottom can be stirred up very easily, and the silt takes hours to go away. Keep off the bottom the best you can, and be especially careful as the decline along the bottom, its fairly steep.
Make sure you bring a primary light, as well as a back up light. You can run your own line, or follow the slope down along.
Pre-dive Safety Check:
Divers should gear up at the gear benches. Take only the gear needed on the dive down to the spring itself. Lock all other gear and items in you car, as the owner is not responsible for anything lost or stolen. Perform a pre-dive check before you walk down the stairs to ensure all of your gear is in working order. Make sure you double check your gear once on the surface. Also, make sure you go over your buddies gear, and have your buddy go over your gear to make sure you are both familiar with each others equipment.
Entry and Exit:
When you’re all geared up, walk down the fairly large set of stairs down to the wood platform and to the water. Don’t forget anything you may have left at the top of the stairs…it’s not a fun walk up the stairs all geared up, especially if you’re wearing doubles!
A giant stride entry here is appropriate, water level allowing, else divers can slide into the water from the last step. Water level can vary, and watch for underlying rocks! On your way in and out, watch your step on the rocks, as they can become slippery. There are showers around the side of the site to rinse your gear off after diving. There is a restroom/changing room on the other side of the site.
Also, watch your step on the way up and down the steps, because banana spiders like to spin webs across the pathway and across the top of the water. While they are harmless, the are fairly large and creepy looking!
Water temperature and condition:
72-74F degrees year round. This is one of the warmer springs in Florida! A 5mm wetsuit and hood, or 3mm wetsuit with a hooded vest is recommended.
Things you can expect to see when diving here are sunfish, catfish, and small turtles. Also look for shells and fossils in the ceiling and walls, including several million-year-old sand dollars and some whale bones!
Photo by CorvetteJoe
PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND WILD LIFE.
Environmental Interaction Suggestions:
Please keep your buoyancy and trim in check at all times. Not only will you make the dive site less enjoyable for yourself and your buddies if silted up, but the poor visibility may ruin the dives for others. The limestone can be delicate, so avoid banging into the walls and ceiling. The fossils located in the ceiling/walls are also very special and delicate, so please don’t touch them!
Click Image for Larger One...
In case of buddy separation, follow standard procedures. Look for your buddy for one minute. If both of you are using lights, shield your light to attempt to locate your buddy. If you cannot find your buddy ascend slowly, exhale and do a three minute safety stop at 15 feet. Your buddy should also be following these procedures and will see you at the surface or on the safety stop.
If anyone is low on air, signal your buddy with the appropriate hand signal and begin your ascent. In the rare and unusual case of an out of air situation, signal your buddy and commence sharing air. Maintain buoyancy and ascend slowly, remembering to breathe.
Emergency Contact Information:
911 - This will activate EMS in the Ocala area
DAN – 1-919-684-4326
Always call DAN after 911 in the case of a dive emergency which may require medical attention.
In case of a Diving emergency the closest Hyperbaric Chamber is:
1600 SW Archer Rd
Gainesville, FL 32608
Phone #: 352-265-8000
DAN should be called in the case of any diving medical emergency. They will refer you to the correct chamber, if necessary.
Emergency Oxygen should be made available at the dive site by the divers, as there is none on site.
Enjoy your dive, be safe and have fun!