Author Topic: Florida Keys?  (Read 9350 times)

jreardon

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Florida Keys?
« on: July 22, 2008, 05:42:44 UTC »
Hello, all.

I'm going to the Keys this summer and would like to know if anyone has any recommendations on "the best" place(s) to dive there. We're looking to dive a reef, hopefully lots of sea life and preferably in the 40-50ft range.


Thanks!

Jason

craigwood

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008, 12:19:22 UTC »
If you are in Key Largo, I would not hesitate to use Ocean Divers, see my review 12/2006. There are a number of shallow reef dives that would fit your description in addition to a very nice shallow wreck dive, the Benwood. Of course they also offer 2 fantastic deeper wrecks, the Speigel Grove and the Duane. You'll have a great time regardless of where you choose to dive. Enjoy, Craig

jreardon

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2008, 14:50:28 UTC »
Yeah, thanks for the quick response. I actually red your review last night when I was looking through the Chapbook. I think Largo sounds awesome and would definitely go with your recommendation, I thought Molasses sounded like a nice site; but now after my girlfriend tells me to decide where we should dive, she says she wants to go to Looe Key, which also sounds cool. Anyway, thanks again,

Jason

johnnyrl

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 03:12:45 UTC »
i have dove in the keys a number of times . key largo is very nice, dives are shallow on reefs , deep stuff on wrecks.  reefs 25-30 feet, due to shallow, longer dives , good light for photo and diving,  i like amy slates dive operation, also have dove with horizon divers there they are excellent also.  depending on conditions , i would dive whatever based on best conditions of the day.

also dove in marathon with bill and heidi at abyss dive center which was at holiday inn. now bill and heidi moved to their own motel in marathon,  nice operation, dives there can be shallow or deeper , reefs up to 60 -70 feet but most shallower.

visability both places varies on the wind , at times green water if it blows out of gulf could boe 20-40 foot.  when the blue water of the atlantic dominates vis can be 100 ft +. i have seen it change overnight.  also in one location green and another blue.  thats my read.  have not been to looe key.

craigwood

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008, 13:24:58 UTC »
There are recent articles on the Florida Keys in June 2008 Scuba Diving and August 2008 Sport Diver that you might find interesting and informative. I find DeLoach's Diving Guide to Underwater Florida a useful reference. It contains fairly extensive coverage of the Keys including Middle Keys and Looe Key

zoomer4

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2008, 20:55:44 UTC »
I live in So Fla and dive the Keys often. My husband and I use Horizon Divers in Key Largo and think they have  a really great, professional operation. We've been diving with them for over 5 years. We just got back from there today from a 3 day mini-dive vacation. Horizon has a pontoon boat for the scheduled dives (deep dives on wed, fri and sat; shallow reefs the rest of the days) and a 6-pack that they'll take out with just 2 people. The reefs off of Key Largo tend to be a bit shallower, and Molasses is one of the most-used reefs in the Keys, so it is beaten up in spots. But for reefs in the 40-50 foot range I'd also recommend Tavernier, which is just down the road. Conch Republic Divers and Tavernier Dive Center have Newtons, nice dive boats. But off of Tavernier you have Conch Reef, Conch Wall and some other reefs in that range that are really nice and have a lot of fish.  Looe Key is beautiful but shallow: 30 to maybe 40 feet. That one is way down almost to Key West, but that area of the Keys is really beautiful. Very quiet. No night life. And I personally would not recommend diving in Key West. Bad viz, shallow, just not worth it.
have fun!

scubababe

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2008, 16:19:05 UTC »
I would recommend Conch Republic in Tavernier.  We dove the wrecks..Spegial Grove, Dwane and the Eagle as well as lots of shallow very lush reefs, most less than 30 feet.  We have also been diving in Key West, and I have to agree with an earlier poster, the diving does not even come close to what is offered between Key Largo and Marathon.  The only great part about that area is a much more lively night life.   We stayed at The Ragged Edge our last Keys trip and had a great time.   Its right on the water with a pool and a microscopic beach and  not on the highway. 
We would stay there again.  Whatever you decide to do, the Keys is a great place for a nice quiet relaxing vacation

Great Dane

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2008, 02:22:17 UTC »
If you are AOWD and like wrecks, you gotta dive the Spiegel Grove !!!! Saw the biggest groupers sitting right by the cranes on the wreck during our last dive just 2 months ago and they did not move for anyone...... We could just 'sit' there and stare at them, while they stared back as us...... We finally blinked and moved on. Even if they are not there, the wreck is awesome and there is a lot to explore.

Dived a couple of times with Amy Slate, which may or may not have a lot of divers on their boat, so make your mind up about that before you book. There are several 6 packs in Key Largo, so consider that if you dont want a crowded boat.

Reefs on upper Keys are generally in good condition and particular considering how many divers go down there everyday.

Keys are not a place for bargain accommodation, at least we have not been able to find a steal during our trips, but perhaps others can suggest something....

New bridge between FL mainland and Key Largo should be finished now, so your drive is a lot nicer than it previously has been  ;D

zoomer4

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2008, 19:16:21 UTC »
Hi again
The new bridge is almost done. Two-way traffic on the completed side does give you a completely different view of Jewfish Creek. Can't even see Gilberts from there. As far as bargain accomodations, it's true, it's not cheap. But you can get dive and stay deals with Horizon divers and the Ramada. I think the rooms run about $100/night, maybe a little less, with the referral from Horizon. Also, if you go online to Travelsaver, there are some coupons for area hotels.
have fun

mtnplayva

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2008, 18:18:06 UTC »
We are headed down there over Thanksgiving. What is the water temp/visability usually like at that time of year?

craigwood

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2008, 19:11:27 UTC »
For Key Largo:

http://oceandivers.com/general/giw1.htm

There's a link to the Molasses Reef buoy on the average air and water temps page above. Water temp today just under 78 degrees. I'll be down 2 weeks after you.

mtnplayva

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2008, 19:23:18 UTC »
Thanks craigwood - I am really looking forward to diving in warm water! I have to dive in a 7mm at the quarry in PA so 78 degrees sounds really good. This will be my first time to the Keys - Have fun when you are down there.

craigwood

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2008, 19:31:45 UTC »
Enjoy your trip. The buoy air and water temps and wind speed are right on. No thermoclines to speak of

Great Dane

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2008, 19:33:00 UTC »
Sorry to come around and sound like everyones mother, but you mentioned this is your first trip to the keys and you are used to dive cold quarries, just wanted to tell you not to leave the wet suits at home !! Surely, 7mm may be overkill, but it is still not bathtub temp and depending on how cold or hot natured you are, water is still colder than your body temp, so after 2 or 4 dives a day over several days, it will wear you down and a cold is the last thing you want to spoil your trip..... ;)

Have a good trip - the keys are truly a special place !!!

craigwood

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2008, 19:42:40 UTC »
Great Dane's comment is right on. I tend to stay quite warm but will be diving a full 3 mm, hooded vest, booties and gloves when I visit in a month. I dive 4 dives a day. It's wise to take good, warm clothes too. Even with a reasonable air temp, the wind can make it seem pretty chilly at times. I've loaned an extra jacket or parka to a shivering diver on many occasions.

mtnplayva

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2008, 19:51:45 UTC »
Thanks for the advice - I was planning on bringing my 3mm wetsuit, beanie hood, reef gloves and my 5mm boots/fins but wanted to make sure I didn't need more than that. I should be good for diving but I didn't think about the warm clothes part. Trying to get all my gear/clothes into one gear bag due to the wonderful airline baggage fees. This is the first trip I've taken since I got certified so I am counting the days down :)

zoomer4

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2008, 19:54:55 UTC »
 :o  78 degrees and I'm in my tropical drysuit!

Great Dane

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2008, 19:58:12 UTC »
Thanks to craigwood for adding what I forgot to mention, namely the surface interval. It is always tempting to just hang out on the boat between dives and get some sun on the body, but even on a warm and sunny day, there can be a cold wind sweeping over the ocean. Dont leave that fleece jacket at home, because you may come to regret it....

This time of the year, I would also be diving the keys with 3 or 5 mm full wetsuit, hoodie and boots (and still be a bit cold, but I am probably more cold natured than most other....). Speaking about hoodie, once read that 40 % of our body heat loss while diving - even in warm waters, comes from the head. Except for certain warm water places in Asia where the water is almost as warm as our body temperature, there are not a lot of place I would go diving without bringing my hoodie for several days of diving.

florida1007

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Re: Florida Keys?
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2008, 15:22:36 UTC »
We travel to Ramrod Key every summer.  Rent a house called the Horgan House, which is on the tip of a canal (don't have to boat slowly to the Atlantic), minutes away from Looe Key and some other excellent reefs outside the marine park. We rent a boat for the week, and enjoy doing things at our own pace.  Guys chase lobster and spear hog fish, so we eat exceptionally well all week.  Our favorite vacation all year.

 

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