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Dive Review of Conch Republic Divers/Bay Side Inn in
The Continental USA/Key Largo

Conch Republic Divers/Bay Side Inn, Feb, 2013,

by Terence Taylor, MD, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 6920.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The focus of the trip was wrecks- the Spiegel Grove, Duane, Eagle and a few others. Typically we dove a wreck first in the morning, and a shallow wreck or reef in the late morning or early afternoon. The first several dives were fairly difficult, with 6 foot seas, strong current and low visibility- not the place for a novice. We were fairly horizontal on the downline and one diver lost their mask on the safety stop due to her snorkel. The crew was fabulous, laying out proper lines, making the dive as reasonable as possible (the day before I arrived and the several days following our departure dives were cancelled). The third and fourth days, the seas calmed to 3 to 4 feet, and the visibility improved to 30-35 feet. The last morning of the 5th day the seas calmed, and we had 65 foot visibility on the Eagle. I will say that in the more challenging conditions, beginning divers should not make these dives. When it calmed Friday and Saturday morning, as it evidently does during season, these would be excellent dives for all divers.

Reefs were nothing stellar but interesting, with some macro opportunities and considerable schools of Grunts other similar fish, a turtle or 2 and a couple of Nurse sharks. Several of the divers partook in lobster hunting- they found a couple, but it evidently was a little early in the season to find a lot of them. The DM did take some time on the dock and showed us how to properly prepare the lobsters including deveining.

Since it was at the fringe of the season, which starts Valentines Day, the operation worked with other dive ops in the area that had only a diver or two to get enough to have the boat go out. One day they had 2 or 3 divers with contradictory agenda (which we were able to influence). They called all of us several times, and developed a 3 dive agenda that started at 10:00am that accommodated everyones priorities. I doubt this would happen with full boats in the middle of the season, but was impressed that they were sensitive to our diving goals while we were there.

I brought all of my own equipment including tanks, and they happy hauled my equipment around with the others and very reasonably dropped the trip price- something I have not always experienced in the past. I did 9 dives in 4 trips, and the price ran about $365 including 28% nitrox fills (6 fills).

I was throughly impressed by Conch Republic, and hats off to an operation that made it enjoyable on land and at sea. While I have not dove other operations in the area, I will be staying with CR in the future.

As to the hotel, my only comment is the price was a little cheaper than the other hotels. We have already booked for next February, and the Marriott, this far in advance, is only $10 per night more. Both my wife and I found the beds uncomfortable, the rooms were large enough but needed some maintenance, it included a small refrigerator and microwave, the breakfast included plastic wrapped bagels, danish, cereal, coffee and juice- I don't ask for much more, but it was rather sparse. The pool has to be the smallest pool I have seen, although it was clean and wet, and there was a small beach facing west. The best part of the resort is that it was next to Snooker's, a very pleasant outdoor restaurant/bar with excellent Happy hour prices on drinks and appetizers and offered 10 percent off if you stayed at the note.

The Hotel is about 9 miles from the dive operation and is located with walking distances to many business such as supermarkets, drug stores, dive shops, restaurants, etc (mile marker 98). It is one of the hotels recommended on the dive operations website, and I would recommend passing on this location.
Websites Conch Republic Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cozmel, Riviera Maya, Curacao, Cayman Brac, Bahamas, Florida, MD, MA
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 75-78°F / 24-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 15-65 Ft/ 5-20 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 500 psi on board. Depth was limited by MODs, but specific nitrox %s were available to accommodate each wreck.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments This trip was focused on wrecks, so the "Subject Matter" reflects that these are excellent wrecks to photograph, especially when the visability is better.

The Republic Diver, a 38' boat, is not set up for photographers- no photo table but did have a photo rinse tub, which they made quite clear to keep your mask out of. I take a collapsable cooler that I carry my outfit in. Since the boats only had 5-11 divers, there was plenty of room on the front shelf for dry items and my camera. We were just at the fringe of the season- with a full boat divers would be problematic.

The crew knew how to handle cameras and were fairly knowledgeable about them. There were no photo supplies in the dive shop, but Diver's Direct is across the street from the hotel, which had some supplies.
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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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