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Dive Review of Horizon Divers in
The Continental USA/Key Largo, FL

Horizon Divers, Feb, 2004,

by Mort Rolleston, VA, US . Report 1506.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, North Carolina wrecks, St. Lawrence River Canada wrecks around Brockville, New Providence Bahamas, Sail Rock Thailand
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 70 to 75 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions On shallow dives - one hour time limit strictly enforced (they have to keep to their schedule).
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments KEY LARGO

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised at the diving at Key Largo and would have to probably rate it my most enjoyable diving overall to date. Key Largo had huge schools of fish in open water (and I like my fish - especially larger pelagics, which Bonaire totally lacked as did Nassau except for the great shark dive I did there). The baitballs (of what I assume are silversides) near Spiegel Grove wreck had to have contained MILLIONS of fish in tight formations that were more than 100 feet in diameter being dined upon by charging jacks, barracuda, and grouper. There were also large schools of grunts, goatfish, and schoolmasters at most sites. We also saw several nurse sharks, a huge manta ray, a spotted moray, a HUGE jewfish, regular grouper, barracuda everywhere (singletons, small packs of 2-3, and one large school of a dozen), jacks, and spiny lobster.

Key Largo also has great wrecks. The Spiegel Grove wreck (a Navy amphibious ship sunk deliberately just a few years ago) was easily the best wreck I have dove in my young diving career and was amazing even without the gazillions of surrounding fish. It is an astounding 550 feet long and 80 feet wide sitting on the bottom on its side in 130 feet of water. I believe it is the largest wreck in recreational diving depths in the world. Being in the water with something THAT huge is just awe inspiring.

Coral was not quite as healthy and prolific as Bonaire (where it is definitely world class), but it was surprisingly in great shape.

Visibility was extremely good (80-100 feet plus) at the Spiegel Grove and the Molassas Reef sites. The French Reef site and City of Washington wreck was decent viz (maybe 50 feet?) and was downright murky at the shallow Jesus Statue site (current was churning up the sand). The sites were 20-40 minutes out from shore via dive boat mostly at the edge of the national marine sanctuary. Temps were mostly in 70s (with one cool day in low 60s with 20-30 knot winds and 3-5 foot waves after a cold front blew through) and water temps were in 70s - pretty nice for early Feb! I was comfortable in my 5 mm wetsuit.

Another plus is the shallow depths. Except for Spiegel Grove and the deep drift dive we did off Molassas Reef, all other sites were 20-40 feet, allowing for very long bottom times. The only limitation on our dive time was the artificial one set by the dive operation at an hour so they could keep to their schedule (two dives in morning and two dives in the afternoon). I was coming up after an hour with 1100-1200 psi of air left on those shallow dives and could have stayed 20-30 minutes more. And of course, nitrogen building is not a problem at these shallow depths either...Indeed, there were actually more snorkellers on the boat than divers.

It was also cool that we were there during their low season. We basically had most sites to ourselves and could basically dictate within certain limitations where we dove (we submitted our request prior to arriving, which the dive shop honored almost verbatum). And kudos overall to Horizon Divers....

Now, the shore part isn't as good as other places I've dove (it not really a town at all, but a typical American-style endless line of strip malls along a busy highway for most part - except for the harbor part with its many boat canals), but it was adequate. There are some decent restaurants around. But the land distractions are totally secondary to the diving!

Another plus: getting down there was very easy (hour south of Miami airport) and very inexpensive (there are always cheap airfares to Miami and car rentals are hardly anything). Hotels are also very reasonable...
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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