At Devil’s Den, I did my first dives for my PADI Open Water Scuba Diver Certification. The place was suggested by my dive instructor. I heard about Devil’s Den before I started my scuba diving classes. To visit this site you have to be either a snorkeler or scuba diver or in training with an instructor, as in my case. We started our day early as we had a 3-hour drive ahead of us.
Going to this location was perfect to finish two goals in one day.
- Visiting Devil’s Den
- Getting my Scuba Certification
Devil’s Den is an underground spring in a cave. The roof collapsed many thousand years ago and created a so-called “Karst Window”.
During cold days you can see steam rising from the cave through the karst window and it looks like smoke. When early settlers saw the steam, they gave the place the name Devil’s Den, which suggested a chimney from Hell. The name stuck to the place.
The current owners bought the place in 1993 and transformed it into a Scuba Dive Training Center. Divers and snorkelers are welcome to enter the cave through a small opening. Originally the opening was a small solution hole and the owners extended it to its current size.
When you arrive you have to check-in at the office and signed an insurance liability waiver. After that, you are allowed to enter the cave only as a snorkeler or scuba diver. As a snorkeler, you need at least a mask, snorkel, and fins. You can rent snorkeling and scuba gear on-site if you haven’t brought your own. The entrance to the cave is very small. Let other people first exit before you head down.
After we checked in, my instructor and I headed to the heated pool to get my scuba diving skills done. Then – the moment of truth – we headed down the small stairs to the cave. We were dressed in full scuba gear, with our scuba tanks on the back and our fins in our hands. It is not easy to walk with the heavy gear through the tiny opening. I was totally not used to that.
Inside stairs go down to a platform which is submerged just a little bit. As the aquifer received a lot of water in this season, the water level was 8-10 feet above what was considered normal. Because of that, the platform we were standing on, is actually an extension of a platform right below us.
The shape of the spring is described as an inverted mushroom with a surface diameter of 120 ft / 36,58 m and a bottom diameter of approx. 200 ft / 60,96 m. As the water temperature is year-round 72° F / 22,2° C, it makes this place a perfect diving destination in every season.
We put our fins on and went over our dive plan. We would do some more skill practices and then have a dive around the cave. The top of the cave was pretty crowded with snorkelers. As we descended to the platform which was normally the one just bearly underwater, we were the only one besides a handful of other divers.
The depth of the spring is usually about 54 ft /16,45 m but in our case, it was about 10 ft / 3,05 m higher. During our dive, we saw some small fish swimming around in the spring. This was the only wildlife we encountered.
It was amazing to dive into such a prehistoric cave with ancient rock formations, stalactites and fossil beds dating back 33 million years, and much more. The advantage as a scuba diver in training was, that it was fresh water instead of saltwater. This made skill practice like clearing my mask more enjoyable.
Inside the cave, four underwater passages extend from the pool. In one of them, extinct animal fossils and artifacts dating back to the Pleistocene Age were found. These fossils and artifacts are now on display at the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History.
This place is one of a kind and a great experience to dive in. Come here early before the crowds get here to have the cave for yourself. I am so happy that I got to dive here and experience this awesome place.
As my air came to an end, we ended our dive and headed back outside, and dropped our gear. I went back with my fins and mask to take some pictures over and underwater. As I don’t have any underwater camera besides my phone, I used it to take some photos. Not the best quality, but better than no memories at all.
After a few minutes, I went back outside to pack up our gear. There is a boardwalk leading to the window of the cave and it gives you a nice view of the crystal clear water.
There are a bunch of picnic tables in the area surrounding the entrance to the cave. These are mostly used by divers to lay out their gear.
Besides the snorkeling and diving experience, you can also camp on-site. They offer 4 cabins, an RV Park, and tent campgrounds. Behind the office and rental shack is a large pond. Perfect for a short stroll and some pictures.
Make your trip to Devil’s Den an all-day adventure. Use one of the on-site charcoal grills for a BBQ. Changing areas with shower and bathroom are also provided on-site. Please be considerate to other people here. There is a loading area near the picnic tables. Just drive there to load and unload your gear and don’t have your car sit there while you finalize paperwork or anything else. That what happened to us. Someone just parked right in the middle and left the car parked there.
It was truly an awesome day of scuba diving. Well, my actual first day of real scuba diving. I will come back here for sure, as this time I was too busy managing my buoyancy and all my dive skills. But hey, everyone has to start somewhere and I really enjoyed it. Have you been here or planning to visit?
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.