Author Topic: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys  (Read 7706 times)

txranger

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 3
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 0-100
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« on: March 22, 2010, 19:40:26 UTC »
My wife and I will have a grand total of about 15 dives when we complete our AOW this Spring.  We already have our OW, but want to get more exp with the Adv., which will include Deep, Wreck. UWNav, PPB and UWPhoto.  We plan on going back to the Keys for our first real dive trip, before venturing out further (possibly the Caymans next).  Does anyone have any ideas on locations, dive ops, or general advice to make our trip enjoyable and safe.  We need someone that is willing to share their experience realizing we know very little.  Maybe your exp can shortening our learning curve. Thanks.

msdiver

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 2
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 13:05:19 UTC »
I've been told by an operator that viz is normally better in Key Largo (50') than further south.  Don't know if that's true, but I'll find out in a couple of days. 

jbell

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 500-1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 16:29:28 UTC »
I go to the Keys for diving several times a year.  Starting now until "hurricane season"-around the beginning of August, if past years history is correct, diving will be great in the Keys.

If you are looking at Key Largo, which I would highly recommend for new divers, I dive with Horizon Divers just off Hwy 1 at mm#105 and Florida Keys Dive Center, on Hwy 1 just before Islamorda.  Both have great staff, are very safe with their diving; and both offer several dive certificate courses.  Both also have large boats and limit their capacity so they are not overcrowded. I have done certification courses with both  and found them very good. (Ocean Divers are way over loaded on their boats most of the time as it is a very advertised/popular dive operation.)   

I would also recommend Nitrox cert. if you do not have it.  Nitrox extends your diving time and is a very safe way to dive under 100.'  You will be very happy you have a Nitrox cert.
The shallow reefs (30'  to 70') around KeyLargo are some of the best  you will find, comparable to Bonaire.   Huge numbers of very colorful soft andhard coral with a very healthy and plentiful fish population.  Moray eels and green sea turtles are also common sights. Water temp should be around 78f.  Hope this helps.
J BELL

txranger

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 3
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 0-100
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 22:23:26 UTC »
Thanks msdiver.  Any additional comments would be great.

jbell,  thanks.  We will get our AOW, and hopefully Nitrox, here in Austin and then head out.  I really appreciate the scoop on the dive ops.  We've snorkeled in Looe Key and Pennekamp and look forward to getting deeper.  Your insight on the overcrowding is definitely something I like to know about.  Thanks.

nphelps

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2010, 09:30:51 UTC »
I had a good experience with Ocean Divers off Key Largo in April 2009. I took my 2 sons and we all had a great time. Their boats were not overcrowded at all. They were professional, timely, and really gave us our money's worth. I chose them because they are on the ocean side of the key and have shorter travel time than some of the other operations that are on the Gulf side.

Definitely pay attention to the dive briefing wherever you dive in the Keys because there is a lot of bleached coral in some areas. Go one way and you see a lot; go another direction and you want to cry. Most of our reef dives were less than 40 feet and lasted over an hour. We also dove on the Duane which we all enjoyed. It might be too advanced (both depth and current) if you have only 15 dives and you would probably have to pay for a dive master to go with you.

In case you are driving, I highly recommend snorkeling with the manatees in Crystal River north of Tampa. I have also used Force-E in Ft. Lauderdale to dive on some wrecks. The wrecks were not much but they provided a good habitat for sea life.

txranger

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 3
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 0-100
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 20:23:34 UTC »
The manatee deal looks interesting.  Thanks for the input.

scubamo

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 2
  • Subscriber?: no
  • Total Dves: 500-1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2010, 13:39:34 UTC »
Have lived and dove in the key s27 yrs. Ok for new divers or advanced (wreck) diver but not much in between.

DavidWarshaw

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 20:22:32 UTC »
My wife and I did our Advance Open Water certification with Florida Keys Dive Center, also mentioned above.  They were very accommodating, good boats, nice people.

danclem

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 18:29:56 UTC »
Hi:

This may be a bit late, but I am a Seattle area diver who hits the Florida Keys once or twice a year. I am also an underwater photographer.

Ocean Divers runs an excellent operation, and I highly recommend them. Key Largo is, in my opinion, one of the best diving locations in the world to see and photograph a wide variety of marine life.

My experience is that the further south you go, the lower the visibility gets. That said, we have had some great dives at Looe Key.

Hope this helps,

Dan Clements
425.418.8755
www.e-clements.com

halems

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 2
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 0-100
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 17:49:38 UTC »
I went diving in both Key West and Key Largo in March.  I have a strong preference for small operations, in fact, I really only like to book six-pac boats.  That said, I would recommend Bonsai Diving in Key West and HMS Minnow in Key Largo.  Peter and Jeff both run excellent operations.

rkrigg

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 39
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 101-500
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 02:11:49 UTC »
Be aware that the shops don't offer a dive guide for the shallow dives 30 feet or so, which is most of the dives you are on our own to find, explore and get back to the boat.  I was not impressed with the diving.  I would spend the money which might not be as much as you think and go to Roatan, Curacao or St Thomas.  Roatan is probably the cheapest (lots of bugs but great diving)   Curacao the next in cost less bugs again great diving.  I think you will have a much better time skipping the Keys and going to the islands.  Enjoy
Diving since 2003 sites visited Aruda, Bonaire, Curacao, Bahamas, Belize, Grand Cayman (8 times), Provo, Grand Turk, Jamaica, Roatan, St Thomas, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Florida Keys,  Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum (Cenotes and Ocean) - like small dive groups and quiet resorts

craigwood

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 42
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 500-1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Newbies need recommendations for the Keys
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 15:26:26 UTC »
SE FL offers some very good diving and can be reasonably inexpensive. From Philadelphia, I can fly to West Palm, Ft Lauderdale, or Miami for a bargain. There are numerous inexpensive hotels.

I now do most of my FL diving in Boynton Beach and Jupiter and can recommend Underwater Explorers and Jupiter Dive Center respectively.

 I do have more than 100 dives in Key Largo and also can recommend Ocean Divers. They are extremely reliable in all safe conditions and wii always take out a minimum of 2 divers. I have dived the Duane on several Sunday afternoons with 1 other diver. Divers with AOW or recent deep experience are allowed to dive the deep wrecks without a guide. These dives can be easy or very challenging with current and/or poor vis.

Good diving,

Craig
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 15:34:06 UTC by craigwood »

 

Get the diving news serious divers need!

Sign up for our FREE monthly email
with real diving news you won't find elsewhere!

Make your next dive trip the best one ever!

Get the diving info you need with monthly issues online, the 800 page The Travelin' Diver's Chapbook, 24/7 access to 1000's of honest diving reports and much, much more.

Special Offers for Our Readers
Get discounted dive trips/ equipment/ ... from dive businesses the world over.