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Dive Review of HMS Minnow/Key Largo Holiday Inn in
The Continental USA/Key Largo

HMS Minnow/Key Largo Holiday Inn, Oct, 2005,

by Dean Knudson, MN, US (Contributor Contributor 15 reports). Report 2261.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Mexico, Bonaire, Honduras, Bahamas
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 77 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Captain makes a personal assesment of your skill level, Advanced Open Water not mandatory for the Spiegel Grove.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat is small, but there is a table and a rinse tank. The skipper is careful with photo and video gear.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Best dive operation in the upper keys. The boat is small, but the sites are close, and the boat is on the ocean side, minutes from the dive sites. The morning trip departs 7:30 a.m. sharp (Jeff will call your hotel room himself to move you along if you are holding up the others!!) to have first choice on the mooring balls. Key Largo diving can be hit and miss, visibility wise, and the skipper reserves the right to eyeball a few sites before selecting the spot. Let him do it, he knows the area well. The boat is limited to six passengers, service is very personable. Jeff doesn't say much initially, but when he warms up he has the unvarnished wisdom and gentle humor of an ex-cop retired in the tropics.
Spiegel Grove dives without advanced certification are a possiblilty, but Jeff has to watch you for a bit before he decides to take you there, and he might want to take a peek at your log. If the Spiegel Grove was not in the area, there would be precious little there to attract intermediate or advanced divers. Since that wreck flipped upright in the hurricane, it has become one of the best wreck dives I have been on, rivaling the C-52 in Cozumel, and better than the Hilma Hooker in Bonaire. Talk to Jeff when booking about the days he might anticipate making a run there. We were some of the first divers on that wreck since it flipped upright.
Space is very tight on this relatively small boat, watch the aisles and keep your bench tidy. The reefs are somewhat green with algae, but the fish life in the marine preserve is consistently good year to year. Excellent beginner diving, if you have a newly certified diver in your family or group.
The Key Largo Holiday Inn is comfortable, reasonably priced, has a nice pool and tiki bar, and the rooms are 100 feet from the HMS Minnow. Very convenient. The Island Grill, about 10 to 15 miles west on the highway, is an excellent and charming restaurant, with a great view and nice solo guitar music some evenings.
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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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