Central Florida holds many hidden gems of the natural kind. One such magical spot is located just off I-75 in Williston (25 miles outside of Gainesville), and holds a special place in the hearts of these two lady adventurers. Devil’s Den was given its name by early settlers for the steam, which appeared like smoke rising from the open sinkhole cave on cold winter mornings. Inside the cavern, one is transported into a mystical blast from the past with ancient rock formations with stalactites, fossil beds, and the diver’s paradise of crystal clear water at year-round 72-degree temperatures.
When we pulled onto the road that led us into the privately owned Devil’s Den Resort we were immediately swept away by the sheer beauty of the property itself. After checking in and paying only $9/person for tent camping, we made a circle around the property and set up camp in a prime location under several large Spanish Moss filled trees with an amazing view out onto the fishing pond where there was a fire pit and grill available. Scattered throughout the campgrounds are electric outlets and water spigots; most are just a few feet away from fire circles, barbeque pits, piles of complimentary firewood and picnic tables. There is also access to warm showers and bathrooms.
Thanks to a storm rolling through, we didn’t use the grill but we had plenty of snacks and the oh so necessary Lady Adventures camping drink of choice: champagne! Nothing makes you feel more like a woman than drinking rosé in a tent. In the morning we feasted and ate dinner for breakfast with gluten- and dairy-free shrimp tacos and grilled corn on the cob.
Post-feast we walked across the pond boardwalk to the dive shop where we paid $10 each for admission into the sink/swimming hole to brave the refreshingly chilly water. If you do not have gear of your own, the dive shop rents masks, snorkels and fins for an additional $8. If you plan to scuba dive or aren’t a fan of being cold, we highly suggest a wetsuit.
Because we had already visited Devil’s Den, we were eager to enter through the fantasyland like arched passageway down the carved rock steps into the main cavern. However, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, the sight still takes your breath away and so does the instantaneous drop in the temperature of the air around you.
We quickly strapped on our snorkeling gear and dove right in to the water. Being born and raised Florida girls, we spend a lot of time in the cool waters of Florida’s springs and have learned it’s better to just jump right in; kind of like removing a Band-Aid – only wondrous things await under the surface.
As the sun travels through its daily phases, it streaks through the sink hole opening creating the most heavenly looking rays of light in the water. We often found ourselves travelling around in the water trying to soak up as much of the warmer sun-kissed water as possible, but also taking the opportunity to swim through the beams of light under water much like the birds freely fly through the sun’s glow in the sky.
After spending the day in Devil’s Den and dodging sporadic moody Florida rain spurts, we packed up camp and began the drive back to Orlando with a feeling of solace in our souls.
For more information on their travels, be sure to visit the wonderful LadyAdventures.com and follow them on Instagram @LadyAdventures.