You've Gotta Try This: Scuba Diving Devil's Den in Williston

By Kevin Mims

Even among the Sunshine State’s dozens of dazzling, crystal-clear freshwater springs, Devil’s Den’ stands out in a class of its own and should at the top of every water lover’s Florida bucket list. What makes it so different? For starters, you will need to descend into the depths of a mysterious cave to find it.

A day spent at Devil’s Den is an adventure into a new world and a Florida spring like you’ve never experienced. Be prepared to be awed by the sights and the quiet serenity of this north central Florida treasure as you scuba dive or snorkel through it. Here’s a guide to visiting Devil’s Den, from what you need to bring to what’s nearby to explore.


Between diving or snorkeling in Devil’s Den and exploring the surrounding area, you can easily spend half of a day or more on this adventure.


Devil’s Den, in Williston, is roughly 30 minutes from Gainesville and less than two hours from Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.

 A day spent at Devil’s Den is an adventure into a new world and a Florida spring like you’ve never experienced. 


- snorkeling or diving gear if you plan to use your own
- wetsuit, if desired
- towel
- swimsuit
- change of clothes
- underwater camera
- waterproof phone case
- drinking water
- food
- sunscreen
- hat
- sunglasses


To enjoy the waters of Devil’s Den, it’s important to be a strong swimmer because you will be snorkeling or diving the entire time you’re in the spring. The water is still and calm, but it is also deep—54 feet at its deepest—which means you won’t be able to stand up and rest with your feet touching the bottom. Also, the stairs going down to the spring are somewhat steep and get wet. Extra caution should be used when toting diving and snorkeling gear down the steps.

 It’s difficult to take it all in when you first arrive at the main attraction and begin to descend the staircase of Devil’s Den.


It’s difficult to take it all in when you first arrive at the main attraction and begin to descend the staircase of Devil’s Den. As you get deeper into the cave, you’ll see the ancient rock formations and cave walls, which have just enough lighting to be able to see the interior of the cave, and the startling blue water surface 120 feet in diameter. Between fossil beds dating back 33 million years and the deep blue spring with light rays slicing through it, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world. Look up and you’ll see sunlight pouring in from a natural hole in the cave ceiling with tendrils of vegetation dangling from it.  Once you get into the water and look below the surface, you’ll find a natural light show where the sunlight beaming through the opening in the cave ceiling penetrates the water. The cave below the surface of the water is a round, inverted mushroom shape that you can explore. For up to 90 minutes, you can snorkel as much as you like among the ancient rocks, observe fish, and take pictures with your underwater camera. Scuba divers can heighten the adventure factor by signing up for a night dive. Scuba divers are permitted to dive from opening time (check the website for hours) and the last water entrance is 1 hour before closing.


There are two changing areas with showers and bathrooms within approximately 20 feet from both the swimming area and office.


All scuba divers must be open-water certified.


For snorkelers, weekday admission is $18 per person and weekend admission is $25. For scuba divers, admission is $38 per person. Night dives are $10 per person ($100 group minimum) from Nov. 7 to March 13 and $15 per diver ($250 group minimum) from March 14 to Nov. 6. If there is anyone in your party who will not be swimming or diving, the entrance fee to enter the property is $7. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.


Snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, and fins) rentals are $12 per person. Full scuba equipment rentals are $45 and include mask, snorkel, fins, booties, regulator, buoyancy control device, tank, wetsuit, weights, and LED Light. Individual pieces of equipment are also available to rent.


Parking is available in a parking lot outside the office where visitors pay and check in.


Snacks and drinks are available for purchase at the gift shop, which also sells postcards, stickers, and T-shirts.


While the cave opening can pose a challenge (it’s 56 steps to the water down a very narrow stairway), the sidewalk, restrooms, showers, office, and gift shop are all ADA accessible.


It’s not far between areas at Devil’s Den — the cave opening, office, restrooms, and picnic area are only about 25 feet apart. Keep in mind that the closest picnic tables are reserved for divers.


Like rivers and lakes in Florida, the water levels at Devil’s Den can fluctuate depending on rainfall, which means water can be deeper with the surface closer to the ceiling of the cave or be less deep with the surface farther down. You can always call ahead of time and ask about current water levels.

 When air temperatures are cold and you arrive early in the morning, you can see steam rising from the opening in the ground above the spring: the spectacle that led to the name “Devil’s Den.”



While you’re snorkeling or diving, keep an eye out for Nelson, the resident turtle of Devil’s Den. If you plan a winter trip here when air temperatures are cold and arrive early in the morning, you can see steam rising from the opening in the ground above the spring: the spectacle that led to the name “Devil’s Den.” Before or after your swim, be sure to check out the other view of the spring and see the opening from above ground. Under giant oak trees you’ll be able to see the opening in the cave ceiling and peer down at glistening blue water far below.

 Among the Sunshine State’s dozens of dazzling, crystal-clear freshwater springs, Devil’s Den stands in a class of its own. 


Everyone in the water must either be a snorkeler using snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, snorkel) or a certified scuba diver with a dive buddy. No breath-hold diving or underwater snorkeling is permitted beyond a depth of 8 feet, and no regular swimming is allowed. Also, only those who are snorkeling or diving are permitted to descend the steps into the cave. All who enter the water must be good swimmers over the age of 6. No flotation devices of any kind are allowed and, for safety reasons, only one person at a time is allowed on the staircase. Snorkeling is available by reservation only, and scuba diving is permitted on a first-come, first-served basis.


I like to bring supplies for a full meal after I get out of the water. Bring ready-to-eat food in a cooler or grill your lunch outside by the picnic tables. Also, don’t forget to make your reservation — it’s required if you plan to snorkel or scuba dive at night — and pay close attention to the rules. Because of its underground location and lack of abundant sunlight, the environment inside Devil’s Den can feel cooler than that of most of our freshwater springs even though the water itself is 72 degrees year-round. Wetsuits aren’t necessary and many people choose not to wear them, but if you prefer, you can bring or rent one.


You will likely be famished after a vigorous swim in the chilly waters of Devil’s Den. This is a wonderful time to change into some dry clothes and unpack that cooler or fire up one of the charcoal grills outside for a well-earned lunch. Spread out on a picnic table with your adventure buddies and look at all of the underwater photos you just took. If you have time, visit Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, a lush botanical garden where visitors can take self-guided tours, or Two Hawk Hammock, which offers lodging as well as live music and a meet-and-greet time with resident barnyard animals on the third Saturday of the month. Both attractions are next door to Devil’s Den. If you want to make this more than a day trip, Devil’s Den has cabins for rent as well as tent and RV camping spaces.

For more information, visit the Devil’s Den website.


1. Park outside at 5390 N.E. 180th Ave. in Williston.
2. Follow the walkway to the office, being sure to bring along your towel, change of clothes, and anything else you will need inside (valuables should be kept secured in your vehicle until you’re finished in the water).
3. Check in (before your appointment time, if snorkeling), get briefed on the rules of the spring, and sign your waiver.
4. Rent snorkeling or diving equipment, if needed.
5. Leave the office and walk into the interior of the property.
6. Find a good spot among the picnic tables to set down your towel and change of clothes. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving them out while you’re in the spring, you can leave them in your vehicle and get them after you get out of the water.
7. Explore the area and facilities for a minute to get your bearings. If you have time before you begin your adventure, follow the walkway to get a look at the cave from above the opening in the ground.
8. With your adventure buddies and your gear, head to the stairs at the cave entrance, one person at a time, until you reach the platform at the bottom of the staircase. Quickly get your gear situated and get into the water and start exploring.
9. When finished, safely make your way back up the stairs, one person at a time, and change into dry clothes.
10. Get a snack at the gift shop or bring out the charcoal and get grilling.

Places to Remember