No matter how many people frequent Devil's Hole, it's still not easy to find. Like some secret hideout from some fantastical film, the best way to get to Devil's Hole is to have been there already.
The second-best way to get to there is to have friends who already have been, which turns out more likely than you might think.
And the third-best way to get there is to load cars with swim trunks and junked shoes, caravan east on state road 20 running adjacent to eternal road construction, pass the lonely barber-pole gas station, over the sleepy town of Hawthorne – note the Burger Barn for the return trip – persevere toward Interlachen, into Putnam County, cruise just a touch farther than you'd expect, pass the "Famous for Chicken and Fritters" billboard half obscured by wild Florida foliage, cross the intersection with CR 21, trudge another 1.8 miles beyond that with shallow Cowpen Lake rolling by on the right, swerve left onto Lake Galilee Drive – not Galilee Shore Drive – creep 150 yards past the facing pair of mobile homes and finally stop when you see the pickup trucks of those who already knew the way. Got that? Just do yourself a favor: do not get stuck in the dirt.
By Memorial Day this year, local Billy Johnson, who'd been to Devil's Hole almost every day for two weeks, was getting mighty sick of helping Gainesville kids out of the dirt. On that day, Johnson didn't even swim. He just watched the display of backflips to belly flops, sipped his Budweiser and indulged the interests of almost 40 "hole rookies" who'd traveled from Waldo, Gainesville and as far as Jacksonville. Since the summer heat began, Johnson has seen more and more people flock to Devil's Hole every day, and a collection of beer bottles fill trash bags far too heavy to haul up the sinkhole slopes. He has seen summer rains flood the bottom five rungs of the homemade ladder and raise the water up so high, the 54-foot platform yields a mere 42-foot jump. He has seen waters from crystal clear to crystal blue, and this year stained dark cyan by the limerock bled from rain-beaten stone. He has seen girls afraid to jump, rope swings released too early and heard drunken legends of Devil's Hole and met them with a few exceptional stories of his own. Most common is the story of a curious man with a truck wench, a cinder block and 1,000 feet of cable, who tested the depths of the sinkhole and found it beyond his reach. Regulars all tell similar stories of stripped cars roaring down 80 feet into the sinkhole to plunge in the spring water and sink immeasurably farther. Other individuals recount tales of a frustrating motorcycle that wouldn't start, a short bus taken on a country joyride, 37 kilos of cocaine that had to disappear and dozens of cell phones with no service – all sent to the same infinite watery grave. "That's why they call it Devil's Hole. It goes all the way down," Johnson says. "It's bottomless."