Many of the springs in our Natural North Florida region are along our rivers (Santa Fe, Suwannee, Wakulla) and their flow of clean 72-degree Fahrenheit water feeds a “spring run” leading to those rivers. Some spring runs are short, like Convict Spring near Mayo or long, like the one that essentially makes up the Wakulla River. But there are a few springs that are really just a “window” into the Floridan Aquifer below.
Just north of Williston, in Levy County, there are two major openings into the aquifer that attract thousands of SCUBA enthusiasts and snorkelers yearly. Devils Den and Blue Grotto are truly spectacular and are likely looking into the same stretch of the aquifer, in that they’re only a few miles apart.
Devils Den is unique in that its cavern can only be reached by a narrow wooden stair. It’s illuminated by a “skylight” about 50 feet above the water’s surface. The cavern is the centerpiece of the park. There is camping (RV and tent) on the grounds, as well as cabins, a heated swimming pool and picnic areas. Access to the cavern is limited to those who are diving.
“On cold winter mornings you can see steam, like smoke, rising from the chimney opening. Thus, the early settlers gave the name Devil’s Den. With crystal clear water, year round 72 degree water temperatures, ancient rock formations with stalactites, fossil beds dating back 33 million years, and much more, you’re guaranteed to leave with memories that will last a lifetime!“–from devilsden.com
Open water and cave-certified SCUBA divers find Blue Grotto Dive Resort to be the perfect Florida destination. Open water divers can dive the open vent, and those who are cave-certified can venture down into the “Blue Grotto Cave”. The resort also offers dive instruction, camping, a training pool, and motel rooms.
If you’re waterlogged from your visit to either (or both!) dive destination, or someone in your group needs to while away some time nearby, we recommend visiting Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, located almost adjacent to Devils Den on 180th Ave in Williston.
Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens is “A beautiful botanical garden with cascading waterfalls, 50+ garden displays, koi ponds, and countless breathtaking views”, according to their website. This abandoned quarry salvaged from ruin is truly worth a visit.