When I visited this place with my girlfriend, who was becoming a certified open water SCUBA diver on the day of our visit to Blue Grotto, I, who has no open water certification, decided to take in the sites above the water line while she was with her classmates taking in the spectacle below.
All I can say about this amazing place is that it’s as much an open water SCUBA diver’s paradise as it is a geologist’s.
Blue Grotto, which is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Ocala in North Central Florida, is a wonderful side-stop destination for travelers and staycationers alike.
Visiting This Old Florida Sinkhole
From the moment you walk up to the ancient Blue Grotto sinkhole, you are transported to an earlier geologic time, where you can see tens of thousands of years of pockmarked limestone climbing up from the aquifer to the topsoil, 30 feet above the crystal clear water. Tree roots gnarl their way around the craggy edges of rock and plunge dozens of feet, yearning for the blue freshwater tempting them downward from the karst abyss below.
In the water, my girlfriend is awed by the sight of turtles and fish treading around their crisp habitat, and reaches for the translucently dark depths below a limestone ledge that invites divers to the cavern below.
The Sites Below The Water Inside This Incredible Florida Sinkhole
While I unfortunately could not view the splendors that my girlfriend did, she told me about how well lit the cavern is, both by natural sunlight and artificial lighting that was installed underwater years ago.
She also described an underwater platform located 35 feet below the water, which is the perfect perching point for divers who want to touch the bottom of the sinkhole without stirring up the silt and temporarily ruining the impressively clear water that fills the cavern below. There’s also Peace Rock, a smallish rock platform that is 50 feet below the surface and well into the cavern.
There is also the popular air “bell,” a clear semi sphere that is filled with compressed fresh air and located just inside the mouth of the cave 30 feet below the water surface. This contraption allows up to four divers at a time to remove their regulators and talk with their dive buddies while they watch other divers maneuver through the surrounding waters. This site is perfect for open water divers, but to see the cavern down to its 100-foot depth, you need advanced certification.
More About Blue Grotto Sinkhole in Florida
Along with the dive spot itself, Blue Grotto offers a full-service dive shop, picnic areas, and showers. It is also only a stone’s throw from Williston, a cute little town that straddles U.S. 27 and is roughly 21 miles west of I-75 Exit 354 in Ocala.
So, where exactly is Blue Grotto? I can confess that I missed the road onto the property twice when I was driving, so it pays to know your directions and look for landmarks. Traveling westbound on U.S. 27, you will want to turn left onto N.W. 172nd street, which is directly across from The Holy Family Catholic Church. Proceed down the dirt road and go past the four-way intersection. A small Blue Grotto sign will be on your right.
Trips like these are inexpensive, naturally enriching, and the perfect respite during any vacation on which you wish to enjoy Florida state parks, roadside oddities, or simply stop and smell the roses.
I’m a Florida native, a roller coaster junkie, and a frequent traveler. (Long road trips are my favorite.) Born and raised in Tampa, I grew up visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. I authored the book </em>Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Images of Modern America</em>, which details the colorful history of the Busch Gardens theme park. As a local historian, I've also written about other popular landmarks and attractions for a variety of publications. Here, on this Travel Guide, I like sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about all the places I've been — so you will have a good idea of what those places are like and what you should know before you go. I especially enjoy helping others plan fun trips… on a budget!