Rainbow River

USA East


Submitted By:
Ivan Walrath

Submitter Comments:
Spring fed river, incredibly clear. In addition to abundant underwater wildlife, see springs bubbling into river (looks like bubbling sand). Easy snorkel since you get taken upriver in a boat and "float" down.

 From Orlando - Approximately 83 miles ( time 1 hour & 40 min) 1. Take I-4 East or West or Florida Turnpike North exit #77 2. Go North on the Florida Turnpike approximately 55 miles 3. Turnpike will turn to I-75 North 4. Take I-75 North for 10 miles to Hwy.484 exit # 341 turn left 5. Take Hwy. 484 West to Dunnellon Fl. Approximately 20 miles to Hwy 41 6. Go right , North 3 miles to SW 99th Place. Turn right at light go 1 mile cross RR track then go left after crossings, 1 mile on right is KP Hole County Park


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04/13/2012 Danny (Avg: 3.73 Review) - My family and I have been down the Rainbow River several times, both snorkeling and diving, both day and night. The water is very clear. Water temperature is in the lower 70s year round. There is always lots of wildlife around to be seen. Turtles, garfish, river otters, and lots of water birds can be seen. We went with American Pro Divers, but other dive shops do training and operate boats on this river. The main access point for the rainbow river is a very nice local park called KP Hole. They have access for boats on trailers. Also you can rent canoes. If you are not with a group (away from a dive boat) be sure to tow a dive flag.

03/27/2011 UWdigger (Avg: 3.99 Review) - As with others previously reviewed this was more of a boat than shore dive but we were required to stand on shore as the boat drifted down so I counted this as a 'shored boat dive' in my log. Our Pro boat dropped us off upriver and we were instructed to drift down to the pickup point. Overall a very enjoyable dive. Vis was unlimited/limited to the topography of the riverbed, even when the bottom is stirred by yourself or other divers. Plenty to see on this dive, friendly fish, freshwater plant life and a little fossil sight-seeing to bring out the inner prehistoric geek diver. Not deep enough to worry about dive tables (deepest recorded was 19' sticking my computer down the 'hole'), a perfect last chance dive before flying back home. Most of us in a 3mil and comfortable for a 1hr+ dive, one in our group in a dry suit and he complained about being too hot. Personally recommended for all levels, very easy drift dive but refreshing enough for advanced levels, unsure about night dive however. Haven't been yet, but is on personal list for another round. Happy Diving! K

03/22/2011 Anonymous (Avg: 4.19 Review) - This is not a traditional shore dive in that you'll need a kayak to paddle upstream to get to the start of the drift dive. Many divers simply pay to have American Pro or Birds scuba shops located in the city of Crystal River take them upstream; however, you can rent kayaks in the county park or you can bring your own. This was a dive on my bucket list and while I am glad I did it and enjoyed the dive, I won't be rushing back in the next year or two: after about 10 or 15 minutes of diving, the underwater topography all sort of looked the same to me: lots and lots and lots of river grasses. Depths ranged from 5 feet to 21 feet, though most of the diving seemed to be at 5-7 feet with an occasionally area or hole that dropped to 20 feet or so and an occasional area less than 5 feet deep in which divers had to nearly surface to avoid dragging their bodies across the river grasses. The visibility was outstanding the day I dove: probably 75 feet +. The river is filled with common freshwater fish such as bass, some of which are quite brave and will come right up to a divers mask. Twice I caught site of a gar during the dive. One of the divers saw a freshwater turtle though I did not. The current is very mild compared with an ocean drift dive in an area like Jupiter Florida or Cozumel Mexico. The springs enter the river in several different ways: through long fissures or cracks in the river bed, through roughly round shaped holes with significant water pressure and most interesting to me, through patches of sand where very modest pressure from the springs caused the sand to bubble, almost like lava. All of these springs keep the water clear, the temperature at a desirable 71-72 degrees and break up the endless sameness of the sea grass covered bottom. The dive is well worth doing; but after checking it off of my 'to do' dive list, I won't be back unless I feel the absolute urge to get wet again if I am traveling in the area. The setting of the park is beautiful and there are showers and rest rooms.

12/10/2010 John Jerrehian (Avg: 3.70 Review) - This was my first trip to Rainbow River and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of people there, (Oct-April). Only $3 to enter and park car, (other springs charge $35+ to dive). We rented a canoe and put all our gear (2 of us) and paddled up river. Careful not to go too far as we passed the 'hole' and didn't realize until we saw the sign 'no diving' at the state park. Depth ranged from 5-22' and had some fun things to look at. Temp always around 72 degrees and water viz is very good. Nice fun dive when the ocean waters are too cold and the fresh water is a plus.

06/16/2008 Lori File (Avg: 3.20 Review) - Find the KP Hole Park, then pay to get in. The boat ramp is on the side of the park. You can rent a kayak right there. The current is light, and the locals told me no rain has made river low. Paddle up less than two miles. Takes 60 or more minutes. Suit up (the water is cold). Drift back down. We actually snorkeled this time. Water is pretty shallow for diving, probably 5-20 feet at most. We saw an alligator while snorkeling. You can't take your dog in the park, but you can take him on the river (we had a triple kayak). There is a large parking area, and a place for RV's also.

03/21/2008 Dave R. (Avg: 3.00 Review) - This is a nice dive, especially for a family or novice divers. This was the second time we dove here, the first was 2005. While not a 'shore dive' if you go to the K of P park in Dunnellon you can rent a canoe. We got three divers, myself, wife and daughter and all out gear into one canoe. Paddle 1 to 1.5 miles upstream, put your flag in the canoe and drift back. Be sure to surface and check for the park from time to time so you don't pass it. The viz was in the 75-100 ft range. Bring a camera. Lots of eel grass beds, gar, etc.. Look for sand boils and larger spring outflows. The west side is built up, homes, etc. The east side is undeveloped. A few recommendations. Put on a 2mm wet suit before getting into the canoe (no wet suit and you will get cold by the end of the dive). If pulling out on the east side to gear up, select your site carefully. There are some good spots but watch for sunken roots and fire ants.

10/31/2007 Jay and Tara (Avg: 4.22 Review) - The wife and I did some of our final checkout dives here. Visibility was 60-70 feet, and there was a very light current. We saw tons of fish, a sea otter, and plenty of turtles. Pay $10 for the boat ride up, and enjoy a nice slow drift dive back.

02/04/2007 Dave K (Avg: 3.85 Review) - This is a very beautiful river drift dive. Vis is unlimited, great for an easy summer afternoon drift, brush up or check out new equipment. It's not really a shore dive. We went with American Pro Divers out of Crystal River, up the river with a pontoon boat, then had a relaxing drift back down. Plenty of fish (check out the Gar Hole), and lots of plant life. No challenges here, but will do it again for sure.

09/13/2006 Youssef (Avg: 4.00 Review) - Good underwater sceneries and fish. 72F all year and good visibility (75+). I did my OW training there.

05/10/2005 Bill (Avg: 3.55 Review) - Rainbow River is a great drift dive. Take a boat upstream to the head spring area, jump in, and let the current take you back downstream. Depths are shallow (max I ever got was about 18 feet), but the water is crystal clear and teeming with wildlife. Rainbow makes for a great group outing for diving, snorkeling, and inner tubing down the scenic river. Its a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon in Florida!

04/22/2005 D&K Jenkins (Avg: 2.90 Review) - Great time! A constant 72 deg F. We went with America Pro Dive, which took us up river a ways and did an hour drift to the entry point. Crystal clear water (unless others drift through the plant life and stir up the sediment!) Great facilities w/ changing rooms/showers/restrooms. Word is you can snorkel or tube a lot more of the river.

04/11/2005 Jason NYC (Avg: 2.76 Review) - This ranks as one of my favorite dives. Topside is typical "wild" Florida. Very peaceful and lovely. I don't believe this one can be done as a shore dive but you can snorkel here from shore after paying a small park entrance fee. This drift dive is done after a short ride in a boat up current. Visibility is forever (fresh cool 72 degree spring water) and depths are very shallow, ranging 5-20ft. The current is Cozumel like with a break at the end of the dive in a small spring area. Not much fish but a few friendly ones. The attraction here is the unique Florida spring water and underwater topography. A really lovely dive in central Florida! About a 2 hour drive from Tampa.

04/11/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 3.50 Review) - Amazingly clear. Enjoyable 'float' down the river. Unique experience watching the springs bubble up through the sand on the bottom.

Dive Site Pictures:
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Special thanks to Danny Morrow!
John and Mark.
Submitted by Danny Morrow

Special thanks to Danny Morrow!
Submitted by Danny Morrow

Special thanks to Danny Morrow!
Submitted by Danny Morrow


Diver Averages for  Rainbow River  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  2.92
Bottom Conditions:  4.23
Reef Conditions:  2.85
Animal Life:  3.85
Plant Life:  3.85
Facilities:  4.08
Solitude 3.31
Roads:  3.77
*Site Average:  3.58

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.38
Beginner Scuba:  4.77
Intermediate Scuba:  3.69
Advanced Scuba:  2.69
Night diving Scuba:  3.23

Number of reviews for this site: 13


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