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Dive Review of Rainbow Reef/Ramada Inn in
The Continental USA/Key Largo

Rainbow Reef/Ramada Inn, May, 2007,

by Marjorie Griffing, GA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 3337.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving MN, WI, Bermuda, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, St. Maarten,
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 25 to 30 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Time limits, back on boat with 500 psi
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A 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 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We traveled via bus from Atlanta to Key Largo with a group from Atlanta. Of the 17 divers on the trip, 4 were doing open water check out dives. Two of those and two others (who just finished OW) were doing AOW. The rest had some experience. With about 150 dives, we may not be the most experienced divers out there, but we are well trained and capable of planning and executing safe dives of a more advanced level. With the varied experience of the divers in the group, the dives were planned for very beginning divers.

The Ramada Inn was convenient to the diving. The rooms are large and have a large balconey which worked well for drying wet gear after dives. Breakfast was OK. For someone looking for good carbs and good proteins, the choices were very limited.

On arrival, the weather was too windy for the scheduled dives. Instead, we were taken over to Jules Vern lagoon to dive. We spent an hour in about 25 feet of water. The vis was poor, but the water was calm, good for the OW students on their check out dives. We saw a few fish including hog fish, upside down jellyfish, a couple angels. We poked our heads inside the underwater hotel - an interesting set up. Would likely induce claustrophobia in anyone susceptible.

On Saturday, the seas were 5 feet. We went to Molasses reef for both dives. Because of the sustained winds, the vis was 25 feet or so. We did see a couple nurse sharks and most of the usual suspects in the Keys (angels, squirel fish, grunts, snappers, etc.). Back on the boat, the boat moved a few feet and wanted us to get back into the water for a second dive rather than waiting for a surface interval. They were worried about people who chose not to dive the second dive being seasick. On return, they suggested we qualified for the 5 foot seas merit badge.

On Saturday afternoon, the boat we were scheduled to dive on for the weekend blew a head gasket and was "terminal." Therefore, for the rest of our scheduled dives, we dove with Sea Dwellers.

On Sunday, we dove French reef. Conditions were a little better than on Saturday. We dove French reef. As on Saturday, vis was poor (for Florida) and saw most of the usual suspects. On the first dive, a group surfaced about a quarter mile from the boat. We were on our safety stop and asked to come up in a hurry so the boat could move to rescue this group. In the process of being rushed up the ladder, I got rather banged up. We moved to where the group requiring rescue was located and all was well for them. The captain then announced that he had planned to go to another reef, but since we were here, we would stay. It was about 10:30 and he asked people to be back on board by 11:45. We chose to get back into the water about 11:00 got get a reasonable surface interval. About 10:55 (the rest of those diving were already in the water), the captain told us that we would need to get in the water now if we wanted to dive because he wanted us back on board by 11:30 because he was worried about those on board getting seasick. He acknowledged that the previous time limit was 11:45. We got in about a 40 minute dive and surfaced with 1800 psi.

On Monday, conditions had improved and we dove the Spiegel Grove. It was our first time diving this wreck. The captain gave a very good briefing explaing where the mooring lines were and how to navigate the wreck. Vis was somewhat improved over the previous few days. We saw baracuda, grunts, etc.

We then moved to French Reef (this time, with an appropriate surface interval). We saw Glassy Sweepers (a first for us), a couple nurse sharks (one free swimming), grunts, snappers, etc. As the dive progressed, the vis got worse. Not sure if it was new divers kicking things up or a shift in the currents.

The surge was pretty strong on all the dives each day. Currents were fairly strong on most dives. For the new divers, diving in relatively rough conditions was probably good - they will understand what it is like to try to get back on a boat that is rocking and rolling.

A bad day diving is better than a good day working, so all in all it was a good trip. For an experienced diver, it is probably better to book with one of the smaller boats that will accomodate the abilities of more experienced divers rather than worrying about seasickness of people staying on the boat.
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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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