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

May, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Marjorie Griffing, GA, USA
Reviewer   (6 reports)
Report Number 3337
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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

windy, cloudy  
choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 30    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Time limits, back on boat with 500 psi  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
3 stars    
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,

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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