Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River // Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River // Dunellon Florida // Vents, Boils, and Geology Lesson

What a fascinating dive we had at K.P. Hole Park, Marion County on the Rainbow River! The geological formations are epic, historic, and perplexing. There are vents all over the place, I think the boat captain said there were 130 or 150 in that segment of river alone. There are fish and snakes and even birds that overtake you underwater.

It’s a relaxing, long bottom time dive where your snorkeling friends can join you. The visibility is incredible, about 100 feet, and you feel like you are flying over the grasses on the current for the long, relaxing run. There are places where it looks like the sand is boiling; this is caused by the spring water bubbling up through the limestone layers.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

It Actually Is a Boat Dive

The dive is a boat dive – sort of – you do take a big step off the front of a pontoon boat that has taken you up current about a mile in about 15 minutes, and it takes about an hour and a half to float back.

Everyone assembled and checked their gear, and we walked past the kayak launching platform to get on the boat. There were two snorkelers in our group and ten divers.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

The captain gave a briefing along the way of landmarks to watch for, and I wondered how we would see them, especially in reverse order, but we did. There were instructions on where the major vents were, and a cavern, and an area where dive classes often train.

When the boat stopped, we all took that giant step, and swam toward the shore to wait for our group to gather. Everyone got their cameras going, masks de-fogged, and we set out to explore.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

A Few Rules

The rules at Rainbow River are that divers use a flag. This was a bit of a challenge as you constantly bounce from 10 to 20 or 25 feet and must keep up with reeling it in and out. It is very good practice, actually, for someone who has not done that, especially since it’s in non-threatening conditions.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Letting a lot of line out to get down to 30 feet, then returning back to five feet of depth repeatedly resulted in a lot of adjusting. I couldn’t let the entire length trail behind me when we were close to the surface, or someone could have gotten tangled in it. So, there was a lot of letting line out and bringing it back in. The result was less time I was able to video, but got a lot of reel practice.

The water is 72 degrees year-round, so you will want a wetsuit of 5mm or thicker. You can rent one there. The current runs about a knot and a half.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

There are boat docks and fallen trees to avoid, but nothing very dangerous. You will see the skegs from kayaks zipping past you, thus the surface marker.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Most of the shoreline is privately-owned, so divers are instructed to stay off the shoreline. We found plenty of spots where it was shallow enough to regroup, compare notes, and continue.

Also, the park does not allow plastic disposable water bottles, and you must wear the waterproof wristband shown above, even while diving.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Grassy and Shallow Drift Dive

The grasses were all waving straight downstream, and the river is about a sixteenth of a mile wide, so it was impossible to get lost. We saw bream, bass, gar, anhingas, turtles, and one snake. Someone mentioned that diving is always like a Snipe Hunt, and someone always sees something no one else saw.

Pretty soon, I realized this was going to be one odd dive! We varied from three feet to thirty feet deep, with the depths changing regularly. One one of our shallow water stops, we compared notes and realized everyone was having trouble with their ears.

Instead of descending once down to a set depth like 50 or 80 feet, we were bouncing constantly. That made clearing my ears an almost non-stop activity.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Natural Vents

The natural vents were just fascinating. Some of them were recognizable because they were big clean holes, lacking growth around them due to the flow. One had a flow strong enough that the boat captain said it could rip your mask off or make your regulator come out of your mouth.

We found that one, and attempted to swim toward it. It definitely was a very strong current and would push you out of the entrance.

There were a couple other vents with small cave-like entrances and enough room for a diver or two to crawl in and sit.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Pavilions Available First Come

We had the foresight to bring a wagon for our gear. Another member of our NAS Jax Skin and Scuba Diving group used a dolly! It’s a bit of a “drag” from the parking to the pavilions.

We loaded up our gear, and rolled three right turns to the big pavilion, which is “first come, first served.” It had four picnic tables, and our dive club president fired up the grill to do some cooking while we dove.

There were two picnic tables under the roof, and a grill. We had plenty of room to spread out our picnic foods, and also to sit around after the dive.

From the pavilions, there is an excellent view of the kayak launch and the boat dock. You can watch all the activity from there, and chose to stay in the shade or warm up in the sun.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Great Spot to Test New Gear

I was using a new Go-Pro bracket made by MOVO, and discovered that although the usual GoPro handle looks a lot less technical, it works great. The new MOVO bracket also works great, looks super techie, and is a great device for protecting the Go-Pro casing.

The difference in using the stick and using the bracket handle, is multi-tasking. With the stick, you can hold the Go-Pro and perform a second task with that hand. With the MOVO bracket, your hand is very engaged and not able to handle an additional function.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

So, with using the dive flag on a line, I had the line holder around my arm, freeing up my left hand. In my right hand, I had the Go-Pro. When I had to roll up some line or let some out, I either had to one-handed unwind it, or give up filming while unwinding. Winding and unwinding could be accomplished with one hand, but sometimes there were some snags.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Park Details

The park entrance fee was $5 for non-divers and hand-launch vessels, $10 per tuber, $15 for divers, and $20 per motorized vessel. I have never seen so many float and kayaks in one place in my life.

They offer for $25 per person a tubing package including entry fee, tube rental, and return shuttle service.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

There are bathrooms and showers and a snack bar.

The park opens at 8:00 a.m. all year and closes at 8:00 p.m. in the Summer and 5:00 p.m. in the Winter. We arrived about 9:30 a.m.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Our navigation app took us to another park, Rainbow River State Park, instead of KP Hole Park. The address for KP Hole Park is 9435 SW 190th Avenue, Dunellon, FL 34432. The phone number is (352) 489-3055.

While the parking lot was about one quarter full, we tried to predict which spots would be in shade most of the day. We then realized there were just a few, maybe eight spots, in a little branch to the right off the main lot, and the closest to the entrance, so we parked there.

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

Links

What we took to KP Hole to read during our surface interval: NOLS Wilderness Medicine

We used an Olympus TG-G underwater camera for surface shots.

We used a GoPro Hero3 camera for underwater videos and photos. It’s an old version, but still working great, so we’re still using it!

What to Read Next:

K.P. Hole State Park // Rainbow River Dunellon Florida Dive Site // Diving Emergency Preparedness Plan

7 Items for Dive Boat Survival – The Prepared Diver

And: Finding a Good Bleeding Control Kit for Your Office or Classroom (or Dive Bag!)

What to Watch Next: The Best Coral Reef Safe Mineral Sunscreen – Not Banned // Deep Water Happy

, Diving at KP Hole Park on the Rainbow River  //  Dunellon Florida // Vents and Geology Lesson

KP Hole Resources:

K.P. Hole Park, Marion County Midway down the page, you can click on “Rules and FAQ’s” for more info.

General Emergency Procedures adapted from Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Diving Emergency Management Procedures from the Marine Biological Laboratory at The University of Chicago

Diving Regulations for SCUBA from the Marine Biological Laboratory at The University of Chicago

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Diving Emergency Assistance Plan

Kraken Springs Diving Accident Management Procedures

PADI How Good Is Your Emergency Plan?

DAN How Good Is Your Dive Emergency Action Plan?

DIVE.in – Safer Diving: Team Emergency Planning for Scuba Diving

Emergency Hyperbaric Chambers list – Civilian and Military – from Navy.mil

The UHMS clinical hyperbaric medicine facility accreditation program recognizes hyperbaric facilities that demonstrate their commitment to patient care and facility safety.

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