Whilst living in Orlando, FL, I have been able to visit surrounding beauties, such as Deland, Daytona, St. Augustine – and as of April, Devil’s Den. My friends and I drove out to Williston, FL to visit the notorious Devil Den Spring.



If you don’t know, the spring is actually a sink hole within a cave. The facilities allow scuba diving and snorkeling; we snorkeled. Unfortunately, none of us are certified scuba divers. However, the staff at Devil’s Den do offer lessons for a fair price.



I was pretty scared, at first. I mean, a huge, dark sink hole, and I was going to climb in? I’ve never been a fan of dark water, and this was basically the epitome of it. However, the experience was one of my most worthwhile, and I’m excited to share it with you below.

After driving about two hours out from Orlando, I walked across the boardwalk to the main Devil Den Spring facilities. My friends and I stood in line to pay ($25/each for 3 hours) to snorkel, and we signed release waivers in case of injuries.



Then, we obtained our snorkel gear.



I had never swam with flippers or ever snorkeled. So, I was excited to try, but also unsure of how I felt about wading into the dark water.



We went over to the cave, and I climbed inside to the steep staircase that led to the depths below. One person at a time, as the warning sign suggested, we stepped down and off the staircase onto a wooden plank. On either side of the plank were stairs and blue mats to sit on and get accustomed to the water.



I slipped my mask and snorkel over my head and let it sit on my forehead, as I scooted my way into the shallow water on the blue mat. Goose bumps rose on my arms and the back of my neck; the water was freezing (70 degrees) to me in my bikini and without any sunlight.



I put on my flippers, noticing their weight immediately, and submerged my stomach, gritting my teeth.



My friends were right behind me, a couple having launched themselves into the water to get over the chill. The rest of us proceeded with caution. As much as we tried to be, we weren’t the biggest risk takers in the world.



Finally, I fully submerged myself and placed my mask over my face. The flippers took a moment to get used to, but I was happy to have them. They made swimming around more successful, especially with my languid pace due to the cold.



I stuck my snorkel in my mouth, and despite my fear, I looked into the darkness.



Below, there were jagged rocks and fish swimming about. Baby fish swam around my body and brushed against my finger tips. Further below, a bright light flashed upward, and I realized it was the flashlight of a scuba diver. I watched as a group of divers placed a spotlight on darkened crevices to reveal more fish and beautiful plants.



My fear left me.



I swam through the water and explored, amazed by the world beneath me, while I also had fun experiencing the adventure with my friends.



We all swam for about three hours, before our time was up. Though the experience was amazing, we were eager to escape the chilly sink hole and climb the stairs back to the sun light. I followed everyone up, and we went to return our gear.



Snorkeling at Devil’s Den was an irreplaceable experience, and I cannot believe I had never done something like it, until I was 20 years old. I feel a lot of my hesitance came from fear of the unknown. So, I hope my story of facing my fear of dark water will inspire you to go out and experience something truly amazing despite fear.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman