After moving to the Emerald coast and hearing so much about these two locations, i finally got to dive them both. Thanks to this site, i was able to meet up with a good group of people on both days. For those who havent been or those just looking for a read, heres my take on them:
Vortex Springs was a great dive with all the extras included. We went for a morning dive and the waters were crystal clear. Being able to navigate the fairly large area and go through the simulated caves was enjoyable but i couldnt help shake the feeling that i was being watched the whole time. Finally i figured out what this feeling was. There is several types of fish in the springs and they seem to enjoy the divers. Everywhere i went these fish followed me around and were within arms reach almost the whole dive. As i approached the cavern enterance, i was excited to see the eel that seems to be a common conversation piece around the area. Although i did not see him on the first dive, he was moving around the second time. It was a comfortable dive location that was supported by its local staff and everything one could need was readily available. The only down side to the day was with each dive, visibility kept getting worse due to the large amount of classes and divers in the area. It wasnt an overwhelming feeling once in the water, but there was diver traffic. Overall i would recomend this place and it was fun.
Morrison Springs wasnt a long drive away. I ended up going the following weekend and had to stop at Vortex first to grab two tanks and some snacks before heading to Morrison. Immediately the difference in the two locations was noticable. Morrison has a very natural beauty and feeling abou it. The beach access was easy to use and the picnic tables were available if needed. We made our enterance from the beach and swam over the dive platform. There my group dropped down and checked eachothers gear before heading down to the cavern. It was an easy dive with almost no other divers in the area. It was relaxing and calm in the water and from there we ventured into the surrounding area, letting me see it for the first time. As we surfaced we noticed a few more divers making there way into the area. The water was crystal clear and perfect for the first dive. When we surfaced, the picnic tables had been over run by large groups and classes and the beach was covered with swimmers. This wasnt an issue this time, but it could def loose the appeal for some people. Unlike Vortex, there is no seperation from divers and swimmers. The second dive was a little more interesting. The cavern enterance was covered with silt and debris kicked up by divered and churning in the current from the cave. Once we entered the cavern, the water was calm, clear and impressive.
Overall both sites were alot of fun and each had thier positives to diving. If you dont mind the beach goers, you cant beat the price of "free" for Morrison, but for 19$ you get shop support at Vortex. All in all, i cant wait to get back to both sites for more bottom time!