When you search “Devil’s Den” (or any of the Florida springs) online, the pictures that come up are ridiculous, and I thought they were photoshopped and too good to be true. Being there isn't like the pictures. It's better. Diving Devil’s Den today was easily one of my top 5 favorite days of all time, and I certainly couldn’t have asked for a more amazing first dive in the fresh water Florida springs.
|I didn't take these 2 pictures, but examples of what come up when you google "Devil's Den". Pretty Amazing... Can't wait to have my underwater camera here!!!|
|Picture of a diver on the Devil's Den website. The water looks even more crystal clear when you're diving.|
Picture diving into a huge bowl of bottled water. Now put the bowl underground with a hole above it to let in light. Line the bowl with rock and picture thousands of caves, caverns, and crevices all around you. Imagine rays of sun shining into the middle of the bowl but edges dark enough to need a flashlight to see to the bottom. Now imagine no need to surface after you dive in because you can breath underwater.
The day's adventure all started in the morning when Kate and I drove up to Troy Springs and snorkeled around. We were the first people in the water this morning so visibility was amazing - 70 feet. Unfortunately, it was still too shallow for a good snorkel over the wreck, so we kind of attempted to drift over it in 6 inches of water but ultimately failed and ended up looking like beached whales. We walked back into the spring, fighting the strong current ripping out into the river, and swam around in the crystal clear water with some turtles, minnows, and after a while, some other people.
We got out to warm up and meanwhile counted 12 divers go into the spring. The entire top of the spring became bubbles – it looked like a hot tub! We ran into a man with a dive shirt on who had been talking to 3 divers before they jumped in and he was very friendly and was telling us about the steamship wreck that was apparently burned down to the waterline by the crazy confederate man that owned it. Anyway, we were chatting with him and he remembered seeing us (looking like fools obviously) trying to snorkel in the spring run and said that they were diving in the afternoon at Devil’s Den and we could meet them there.
So, we packed up our stuff, ditched our snorkeling for the day, and headed straight for Gainesville where we grabbed our SCUBA gear and had a quite entertaining trip out to Devil’s Den in Williston. It’s only a 25 minute drive (when you don’t get lost) but we ended up seeing some cool emus and horses along the way and Kate got to practice her navigating as she “double-fisted” phones and GPSs.
We got a tour from Harry, geared up, and headed down to the Den, which is actually just as much of an adventure as the dive itself. There are really no words to describe it except CRAZY/awesome. Take a look for yourself:
|View of the diving platform area from above.|
|A look down the steep and winding trail down to the hole.|
Now try it with full SCUBA gear...
|Continuing down more stairs to the dive platform.|
|Made it down on the platform. Checking it out before gearing up :)|
We dove for about an hour (max depth 53 feet), going through little tunnels and peeking into cracks and crevices and shining our lights into caves with grates over them and big grim reaper signs warning that divers have died in these caves:
|One of the several underwater Grim Reaper signs warning you not to enter the winding caves.|
Most of the caves are gated off with big bars, and since we’re not cave certified, we didn’t enter the miles and miles of tunnels where about 150 people have died since 1989. Not interested in becoming one of those people. Although I thought I'd never want to cave dive, my mind may have been changed today...
Absolutely amazing dive and ready for more… starting Nitrox class on Thursday night at Ginnie Springs and more diving this weekend!!!