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Dive Review of Innerspace Dive Center/Tranquility Bay in
The Continental USA/ Looe Key, Florida

Innerspace Dive Center/Tranquility Bay, Jun, 2013,

by Brent Barnes, OK, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 7013 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments ]My family returned from a trip to the Middle Keys in which we did several dives. I have already dove extensively throughout the Upper and Middle Keys including most major sites in Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon. I had never dove Looe Key off of Big Pine Key so decided to dive that area. I was extraordinarily impressed with Looe Key and would highly recommend diving it. We stayed at Tranquility Bay in Marathon which is a very nice resort with one,two or three bedroom condos. We flew into Miami, rented a car and drove the easy 2.5 hours to Marathon in the Keys. The resort was not cheap but was reasonably priced for how nice it was. We stayed in a 2-bedroom condo that easily held our family of 5 and had a kitchen and living area. The resort had two very nice pools and very nice grounds. Interestingly, there are multiple very large and beautiful iguana that live on the grounds. They would generally simply hang out by the pool during the middle part of the day and were a big attraction for the kids in the area. A highlight for me was watching one of the large iguana walk up to the pool and then flip into it. It then quickly swim across the large pool ignoring swimmers around it, crawled out and then nimbly crawled up a 50 foot coconut tree and then basked in the sun in the top limb of the tree. I wished I had my underwater camera with a dome port with me as I would have loved to have had the brief opportunity to shoot a couple of over-unders of the iguana swimming towards me in the pool. The experience with the pool-swimming iguanas was a new one for me, but on to the diving. We dove with Innerspace Divers in Big Pine Key at mile marker 29. Tranquility Bay is at mile marker 49 and it was a 25 minute drive each morning to the shop but I did not mind as 7 of those 20 miles were over the beautiful 7-mile bridge, one of the prettiest areas of the Keys. We met at the shop at 8:30 each morning and signed in and completed paperwork and were leaving by about 9:00. Dive Innerspace uses 6-pack boats and never takes out more than six divers. The boats have shade and all safety equipment on board. The boat was comfortable though when there were six divers and the divemaster and captain on board it was mildly crowded. I was diving with a larger SLR camera and they readily provided a large camera rinse tank for me. Briefings were excellent and the boat ride was about 20 - 25 minutes to Looe Key. I learned that Looe Key is one of the oldest marine sanctuaries in the Keys, and has been a protected area even longer than the John Pennekamp park in Key Largo and it clearly shows. Also, Looe Key does not get near the number of divers that the Upper Keys' reefs get so there is less diver pressure on it. There are over 20 moored buoys on Looe Key and the sites do not have individual names, they are simply named by the buoy number. Our first dive was at Looe Key buoy #13 and when we tied up to the buoy the captain looked over into the water and told us that "Bob" was already there under the boat. "Bob" is a massive goliath grouper, at least six feet long and apparently hangs around buoys 8 - 13 and per the captain almost always hangs out directly under Innerspace Divers' boat when they dive those buoys. We received a nice briefing to the site and then backrolled into the water. I was immediately met by "Bob" and "Billy" his fellow goliath grouper sidekick. Amazingly, these two goliath groupers hung with us and directly under the boat at a depth of 10 - 20 feet throughout most of the dive and allowed us to get very close to them and were not intimated by divers at all. The Florida Keys are one of the best places in the world to see goliath grouper and I have seen them extensively in Key Largo, Marathon and also extensively off of Jupiter and West Palm Beach. However, except for a few spots in Key Largo where they have been fed in the past, goliath grouper generally tend to stay on the bottom and in crevices and are are wary of divers getting too close. These two remained near the surface and interacted with us for over 30 minutes. Towards the end of the dive, they were joined by a third goliath grouper almost as large as they were. It was an incredible experience. The reef at Looe Key was generally more healthy than most places I have dove in the Keys and had beautiful spur and groove patterns with large coral heads. The fish were very plentiful and we saw many large fish that we generally do not see in other places in the Keys. We had multiple encounters with small groups of large tarpon and there were multiple large schools of fish including midnight parrotfish, snook and jacks. We saw two Caribbean Reef sharks which made close passes and saw several hawksbill turtles. Innerspace Divers does put a guide in the water (at least there was a guide that dove with the other group on the boat with us) but you are free to do your own profile completely independently without the guide which is what we did. The only restrictions were limiting the dive to 60 minutes and returning with 500 psi which is not a problem as dive depths in the reefs of the Keys are generally 20 - 30 feet. Getting back onto the boat was easy with assistance up a ladder and the divemaster and captain were both outstanding to work with. Innerspace Divers does 2-tank AM and PM dives. They predominantly dive Looe Key but they also dive the Adolph Busch wreck. I did not dive it but understand it is a great Keys wreck dive. My family spent the afternoons doing topside activities and the nice thing about Tranquility Bay is that we were literally in the middle of the Keys and could reach anywhere in the Keys within a 75 minute drive. We spent part of a day in Key West and also at the small but nice Sombrero Beach in Marathon. I would also recommend Bahia Beach south of Marathon. In short, I would highly recommend Looe Key when considering a Keys trip. For the advanced diver who is wanting a variety of dives in the Keys it is hard to top Key Largo. In addition to the shallow reefs you can work in the magnificent wrecks including the Duane, Spiegel Grove, the Eagle and the Benwood and City of Washington. However, if you are spending several days in the Keys I would recommend venturing to Looe Key for a couple of days of dives as I found it to be the healthiest area I have experienced in the Keys area. I would highly recommend diving with Innerspace Divers.
Websites Innerspace Dive Center   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Costa Rica, California, Baja Peninsula, Bahamas, Florida Keys, Flower Gardens in Texas, Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, Belize, Dominica, St. Croix
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 78-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions One hour dive limit and return to boat with 500 psi
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The captain and divemaster went out of their way to provide a large camera rinse tank on the boat for my large SLR camera and were excellent and careful in handing it down to me into the water. Photo subjects were plentiful in the Looe Key area.
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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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