Looking down a staircase into a cave with a platform floating in a pool of water and people swimming around it

Devil's Den Cave | A Florida Snorkeling and Diving Adventure

A dive or swim in this pre-historic spring is an experience you won't soon forget. Plan a snorkel or diving adventure to Devil's Den Cave with our complete guide.

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After descending several narrow steps and ducking our heads below a low rock ceiling, we were greeted by a wide beam of sunlight. A metal staircase immediately led our eyes down toward the platform, illuminated by the light flooding in from overhead.

We joined the others on the floating deck, donned our snorkel gear and stepped off into the deep blue water.

It's a mildly chilly 72 degrees year-round, like all of Florida's natural springs. But this one is special. This one is inside the Devil's Den.

Divers who've explored its depths have found fossils dating all the way back to the Pleistocene epoch. Ancient remains from mastodons, camels, saber-toothed cats, and even humans.

Who knows how much history this single cave contains, but it's living on today as one of wild Florida's most interesting natural attractions. Below we're sharing everything you need to know before visiting this place for yourself.

A woman wearing a snorkel mask floats in a pool of water below an opening in a cave ceiling allowing sunlight in

Quick Overview

Hours | Monday through Thursday 9AM - 4:30PM, Friday through Sunday 8AM - 5PM.

Cost | $18+ for snorkeling, $38+ for diving

Water temperature | About 72F (22C) year round.

Getting to Know Devil's Den Spring

Devil's Den is in Williston, Florida, about 35 minutes south of Gainesville. It's an ancient formation called a karst window, something a geology student might be familiar with, but for the rest of us here's what that means: a cave formed above an underground river and the roof partially collapsed, exposing the pool of water below.

If you can imagine steam rising up out of the roof of this cave on a cold winter morning then you'll understand why local folklore says it was given the name "Devil's Den."

Up until the 1990s the opening was actually quite small, only big enough for local kids to squeeze through when they snuck onto the property to go swimming, despite the property owner's wishes. To deter trespassing and swimming the cave was actually used as a trash dump for a period of time.

Once the property was developed and commercialized the opening was widened to ease access. You can still walk around the perimeter of the karst window on a boardwalk and peer down through the opening, but the main entrance for snorkeling and diving is through a narrow stairwell.

Directions to Devil's Den

To reach Devil's Den you'll need to leave I-75 in Gainesville and head south on FL-121 for about 20 minutes. From there it's a short, six minute drive outside of Williston. You can't miss the turn off onto the property, with its unmistakable Devil's Den sign and scuba flag.

The cave is relatively off-the-beaten-path, two hours from Orlando or Tampa, but this area of Florida is home to a number of other springs and natural attractions. Less than an hour away are the crystal clear pools and rivers of Gilchrist Blue Springs, Rum Island Springs, and Ginnie Springs.

Devil's Den would make a great addition to a road trip through northern Florida. Alternatively, you could fly into one of the major airports nearby and rent a car to make it into a day trip.

Snorkeling at Devil's Den

You won't get the full experience of this place if you don't get in the water.

In fact, just to enter the cave you'll need to pay for snorkeling. There's no general swimming allowed in the spring and its primary purpose is a scuba training center, so to see it for yourself you'll need to put on some gear and jump in.

But, trust us, you won't regret it. This is still one of our favorite Florida snorkeling destinations.

The water is comfortable, unless you're coming on an especially chilly winter morning, in which case you might opt for a wet suit.

The clarity below the surface is amazing and with the sunlight shining in from above you can see well for several feet. There are lots of rock formations underwater and along the edges of the cave to explore and you're likely to see some aquatic wildlife as well.

Snorkeling admission costs $18 per person Monday through Thursday and $25 on weekends and holidays. The lower price, along with thinner crowds is definitely an incentive to time your visit on a weekday. Bring your own equipment to save even more, or rent a mask, snorkel, and fins (all of them are required for entry) for $13.80.

A woman in a red swimsuit walks into the entrance to a cave with a sign above it that says 'Devils Den'Looking up from the water at a staircase descending into an underground spring

Diving Into The Spring

Neither of us are divers, but here's some information we do know about Devil's Den: because of the overhead opening, it's not considered a cave dive so the minimum requirement to dive here is an Open Air certification. The depth averages about 50 feet, but varies slightly depending on rainfall.

Divers have described the spring water as incredibly clear, with beams of sunlight streaming in close to the surface, but surprisingly dark further down, similar to a night dive. They typically encounter curious marine life, including guppies, crappies, and catfish.

If you plan to dive here you'll need to bring a friend. A dive buddy is required and entrance to the underwater passages is not allowed.

Divers pay $38 and can rent gear for $51.75, but there are no reservations required. Divers can enter the water on arrival and don't have to wait for a time slot.

Planning Your Visit

Devil's Den is a popular attraction and, if you'll be snorkeling, no matter what day you plan to visit you'll need to make a reservation online. This requires a $5 non-refundable deposit and secures you a 90 minute window inside the cave.

You shouldn't expect to show up on the day you want to snorkel and get in. Some days sell out in advance, so make sure you book a time slot.

We found the check-in process smooth and fairly quick, but completing the waiver online and arriving at least 10 minutes before your time slot will ensure you get through as quickly as possible.

The grounds of Devils Den Spring in Florida with boardwalks and covered areas with tables among trees

After checking in and receiving a wristband, we made our way out into the main grounds surrounding the entrance to the cave. We took a few minutes to walk around and look down through the opening, before claiming one of the numerous covered tables to get ourselves ready.

There are two changing areas located close to the cave entrance with restrooms and showers.

Once your time slot begins you'll be able to freely come and go from inside the cave. We initially went in to have a look and take a few photos before putting away the camera and getting in the water.

There's also plenty of room on the partially submerged deck for putting on gear or taking a break from the water.

The staircase leading down to the water, on the other hand, is narrow and cramped at the top. Though people were standing on the stairs and leaving their personal belongings there during our visit, there are signs asking you not to do that. Please be considerate of others while you're there and refrain from blocking the stairs.

Where to Stay

You can extend your visit to Devil's Den by staying at some of the on-site accommodations, or find lodging in the surrounding area to use as a base camp for exploring other springs and attractions.

Camping

RV sites with full hookups are available on Devil's Den property starting at $45 per night. The campsite fee does not include admission into the spring.

Tent camping sites are $22 per night. Some have water and electric hookups and a reservation guaranteeing a spot can be made online, but site selection is on a first come first serve basis.

Hotels & Rental Properties

Hotels are limited in the immediate area, but there are plenty of options in Gainesville.

Fairfield Inn & Suites comes in as the best option, with excellent reviews and only a 30 minute drive to Devil's Den.

Staybridge Suites is another great choice, also located in southwest Gainesville and a short drive from the spring.

Choosing a short term rental will put you much closer to the springs, with options including everything from a cozy two person cabin to a house that sleeps six. Have a look at this tiny house located 15 minutes down the road, or this two bedroom house with an awesome outdoor patio.

Other Nearby Attractions

Blue Grotto

Divers will want to leave room in their itinerary for visiting the Blue Grotto. It's just a few minutes south of Devil's Den and has a ton to offer for anyone who's scuba certified or looking to become certified.

There are three distinct areas in the Grotto for training or exploration, reaching a depth of 100 feet. There's also on-site lodging, with cabins and cottages for rent, as well as tent and RV camping.

Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens

In Williston there's a unique botanical garden with history as an abandoned limestone quarry. A project that began as a personal venture to restore the quarry into a fishing pond resulted in the Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens non-profit.

The gardens are open 7 days a week and the entrance fee is $12. The walking trails through the property take about 90 minutes to complete.

Ichetucknee Springs

Just over an hour north of Williston is one of our personal favorite springs. The water clarity along the Ichetucknee River is hard to believe.

Bring something to float on or rent a tube from the state park general store and take a relaxing trip down the natural lazy river from one of two launches. You can take a short trail back through the woods and start over, or pay a few dollars to ride the tram.

You can also launch a kayak or SUP from further north in the park. If you ask us, it's one of the best places to paddle in Florida.

Looking down the crystal clear water of the Ichtucknee River with thick forest on either side

Want to swim in the Devil's Den? Pin it for later!

A woman walks down a staircase toward a pool of deep blue water with text overlay that says 'Devil's Den Spring'

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