The Sunshine State is not only famous for its theme parks and sandy beaches. There are also a whopping 700 natural springs in Florida–making it the place with the largest collection of springs in the world! Not only that, but you will also find the world’s deepest and largest freshwater springs right here in Florida. Kind of cool, right? It’s even more exciting when you add the fact that there are many underwater caves in Florida’s freshwater springs. This is the case of the unique underground spring cave in Williston called Devil’s Den.
The main difference between this spring and all the others throughout the state is that visits to Devil’s Den are possible by reservation only.
Where is this Underground Spring Cave Located?
Devil’s Den is an underground spring cave located in the city of Williston, at just a 25-mile driving distance northwest of Ocala. From Orlando, it takes you just around 2 hours and you can either take Florida’s Turnpike, or US-27 N to eventually merge onto I-75 N.
Devils’ Den and the History Behind its Name
Today, Devil’s Den is a privately owned Scuba Diving Training Center. This sinkhole was discovered after the ground collapsed and formed a big hole, kind of like a broken roof. This hole exposed the water from a subterranean river, just like a natural window to the underwater world. Looking down and seeing the crystal blue water underneath is quite an exciting moment itself!
Devil’s Den actually links to the Rainbow River with a stretch of an incredible 20 miles or more of underwater caverns! However, throughout the years the passage in these underwater caves has become very narrow. Other parts are completely blocked. This makes it an extremely difficult and dangerous cave to explore and navigate by divers.
The temperature of the water can fluctuate, but mostly remains 72-degrees. During the colder months, you can actually see the cold mist coming up through the hole of the spring. The early settlers thought that it looked as though it were steam coming up from ‘hell’. Thus, they gave it the name Devil’s Den.
Snorkeling in This Underground Spring Cave is an Experience Unlike Any Other
As I was entering Devil’s Den, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, this place had been on my Florida bucket list for almost three years. So yes, my expectations were high and I was amazed!
As you go past the ‘gate’, the place looks and feels like a natural oasis. A garden with beautiful trees and natural sounds that compliment the setting perfectly. There are picnic tables around, gazebos, a pavilion, and a gift shop. It’s also a really nice place where you can enjoy a nature walk around the property grounds.
Upon arrival, you have to first check in and complete the liability waiver forms–which are required for entrance to the cave. Then, unless you bring your own equipment, you will go to another counter where they will give you the rented gear for your snorkeling experience.
During this time, they go through the rules and what to expect. One of the main things is that you only have 90 minutes to be inside the cave. A colored bracelet that has your exit time should be worn at all times while you’re snorkeling.
Unfortunately, you cannot bring any personal items with you down to the cave. No towels. No shoes. Nothing. Nada. You can only wear a waterproof phone pouch around your neck or take a GoPro. At your own risk, of course. Since I didn’t have the pouch with me (😅), I went inside the cave with my GoPro.
There are no lockers on the property grounds. You would just have to put down your things on one of the picnic tables or leave them in your car.
Going inside Devil’s Den
Once you’re ready, it’s go time!
The entrance to the cave is like a leaf arch with the Devil’s Den sign right above it. Do not wear your snorkeling gear in this spot. There is a specific place where you need to start putting your gear on. We’ll go through that in just a sec. You will go down a steep staircase to a small spot where you will glance at the impressive diameter of the spring cave.
Then, you will go down another staircase. Besides being also steep, these steps are also slippery and very narrow, allowing just one person at a time. They take you down to the main squared platform right in the middle of the spring. This is the exact spot where you will be putting on your fins and the rest of your snorkeling gear–use the railings on the side for balance.
There are no gators in this spring water, just in case you were wondering. The only wildlife you will encounter is some fish and a turtle called Nelson. Sadly, I didn’t see Nelson during my trip, but I did see a few fish!
Snorkeling in this underground spring cave is an incredible experience. I personally would describe it as a one-of-a-kind adventure. Looking up at the window of the cave, draped with vines and where the rays of sunlight peek in to reflect beautifully in the water, is simply breathtaking!
Can you Swim in Devil’s Den?
As funny as it might sound, you can’t just go swimming at Devil’s Den. In this spring, in which the depths range from 55 to 70 ft deep, you are only allowed to go in if you’re snorkeling or diving. However, it is required that you know how to swim. In fact, they are so strict about this, that you can’t even go down just for pictures without the proper equipment (snorkel, mask, and fins). And yes, there are cameras watching!
Therefore, to go inside this magical underground cave spring, you need to wear the proper gear. Both snorkeling and diving gear are available for rental.
Snorkeling equipment rental: $12 for the snorkel, mask, and fins or $4 for each separate item in case you only need something specific.
Scuba diving full equipment rental: $45 and they also have the option of renting individual items.
What to Wear to go Snorkeling in Devil’s Den – the underground spring cave in Florida
Although the temperature of the water in Devil’s Den remains pretty much steady at 72 degrees, being that this is a cave, the water can (and will) feel much colder than that. Therefore, I highly recommend a swimming shirt or SPF shirt–like the ones used for hiking and fishing. You can also wear a long-sleeve bathing suit one-piece swimsuit like this one from Patagonia. This will help keep your body warm and your time in the spring will be much more enjoyable.
Cabin Rentals in Devil’s Den
If you follow my advice and wander around the property grounds, you will see the super cute cabins that are available for rent. They have four cabins available, suitable for up to 4 people. However, admission to Devil’s Den is not included in the cabin rental fees.
Cabin rental fees: $140/night, and a two-night rental is required on weekends. Pricing can vary depending on the length of your stay.
Plan your visit
Hours: Open 364 days of the year (closed on Christmas Day), Monday – Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Friday – Sunday 8 am to 5 pm. The last water entry is at 4 pm.
Snorkeling admission fees: Monday – Friday $15 per person. Saturday and Sunday the fee is $22 per person. Reservation needed.
Diving admission fees: $38 per diver, $8 for air-fills (no nitrox capability). No reservation needed during the day, night dives are by reservation only.
Address: 5390 N.E 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696
Would you like to explore this prehistoric cave in Florida? Let me know in the comments!
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