A woman in a red swimsuit stands in waist deep crystal clear water bordering a river that is lined with trees

Visiting Rum Island Springs | Florida's Natural Hidden Gem

Our guide to the warm and crystal clear waters of Rum Island Springs. How to get to the park, how much it costs, and what activities you can enjoy here.

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A Day at Rum Island Springs County Park

North Florida's Santa Fe River is fed by several freshwater springs, making it an ideal outdoor getaway for paddlers, swimmers, divers, and snorkelers.

Tucked away along the river's north bank is a county park that would be easy to miss.

During our spring hopping tour of the area, we scoured the Internet, looking for some of the best places to take a dip in these comfortable-year-round waters. We stumbled across Rum Island Springs and are so glad we made the trip out to see it.

If you're looking for a laid back and relaxing place to enjoy a swim, this is the spot to add to your list.

And, though the park is small in size, there's plenty more to offer besides the springs alone. Convenient access to the river means you can enjoy fishing, kayaking and canoeing here or spend a full afternoon picnicking.

In our quick guide to a day at Rum Island Springs, we've included everything you need to know about this little natural hidden gem.

Quick Overview

Hours | The county park is open daily from 8AM til sunset.

Cost | A daily fee of $5 can be self paid at the entrance gate. Annual passes can also be purchased for $60 for non-residents ($25 for Columbia County residents).

Water temperature | About 72F (22C) year round.

A woman in a red swimsuit stands in knee deep crystal clear water at the bottom of aluminum steps

Getting to Rum Island Springs

The Rum Island Springs County Park is located on the stretch of the Santa Fe River between Fort White and High Springs Florida.

To reach it, you'll need to take Florida Route 47 or Highway 27 south to SW County Road 138. Take S W Rum Island Terrace south for 1.5 miles until it dead ends at the park.

It's 45 minutes northwest of Gainesville and would be about an hour and a half from Jacksonville or two and a half hours from Orlando.

Because of the number of freshwater springs in this area it makes a great day trip if you're trying to get outside the crowded urban centers and see the natural side of Florida.

What Can You Do Here?

Swimming

Rum Island Springs is a second magnitude spring, meaning it discharges at least 6.5 million gallons of water per day. That puts it among the larger springs in the state, but the swimming area is modest in size, about 100 feet wide.

It's a beautiful emerald colored pool with crystal clear water and is one of the prettiest we've seen.

The water averages knee to waist deep, maintaining a constant temperature of about 72F (22C) year round. It's a perfect place to wade, float, or snorkel.

The swimming area is now separated from the river by orange floats. These were installed recently in part to restrict boaters or paddlers from entering the shallow area where swimmers can be found.

An aluminum ramp and stairs were also added to the swimming hole, making it accessible for everyone.

Though it's less popular than other springs in the area, your best chance of having a truly peaceful swim to yourself is early on a weekday. We arrived first thing and were only sharing the water with one other couple in the morning.

This is a family friendly location, so expect moderate crowds with plenty of small kids on the weekends.

An emerald pool of crystal clear spring water along a river with several sets of stairs down into the water

Boating & Kayaking

If you'd like to see more of the Santa Fe and explore some of the 36 springs located along the river, the best way to do it is with a paddle.

Bring your own gear and put in from the boat ramp at Rum Island Springs Park or visit Rum 138, the local outfitter just down the road. They offer everything from guided trips to shuttle service and rent all sorts of gear and watercraft, including kayaks, SUPs, and canoes.

Fishing

Fishing is permitted within the park, just be sure to pick up a Florida fishing license (starting at $17 for three days).

Common species found along the Santa Fe River are Suwanee and largemouth bass, as well as redbreast sunfish.

A restroom facility inside Rum Island Springs County Park

Picnic

The shaded grassy patches around Rum Island Springs make a terrific place to lay out a blanket and spend the afternoon picnicking.

There are several picnic tables and grills available, as well as a bathroom facility.

Wildlife

Besides plenty of fish you're likely to see some other small wildlife here, including turtles and various bird species. If you're really fortunate you might spot a river otter.

Where to Stay

There's no camping inside the county park, but there are plenty of nearby options in the vicinity. Either High Springs or Alachua, on the outskirts of Gainesville, make great basecamps for spring hopping if you'd prefer a hotel stay.

Hotels & Rental Properties

The Grady House in High Springs is a very well reviewed B&B if you're looking for a comfy-as-home experience while exploring the area.

Vrbo has several inexpensive rentals nearby, offering everything from small cabins to a full house.

Looking further out, there are plenty of hotel options as you get closer to Gainesville. The nearest, at 441 and I-75 would put you within 20 minutes of the springs.

Camping

Ginnie Springs Outdoors | We spent the night here with our campervan and will definitely return anytime we're in the area. Depending on the season it'll cost $25-30 per person for a primitive site, but that also includes up to two full days of access to the park. These are some of the best springs in the area, though it can turn into a bit of a party scene during the weekend. Electric and water hookups are also available for an additional fee.

Ichetucknee Springs Campground | A full campground with all the amenities just outside Ichetucknee State Park, which is home to some more beautiful springs. Primitive sites, electric, and full RV hookup sites are all available.

A wall mural on the outside of a building depicting a girl snorkeling with the words 'Gateway to the Springs High Springs'

Where to Eat

Cilantro Tacos | Family owned business serving Mexican fare in Alachua (22 minutes from springs) with an upscale ambiance.

Spins: Sweet & Savory | A unique blend of traditional Hungarian sweet bread with Southern cuisine in a fast casual atmosphere.

Bev's Better Burgers | Classic no-fuss walk up or drive thru burger shack.

Want to visit Rum Island? Pin it for later!

A woman in a red swimsuit standing in knee deep crystal clear water with text overlay that says 'Rum Island Springs Florida'

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