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Dive Review of Narcosis, Starfish Scuba, Loggerhead/AirBNB in
The Continental USA/West Palm, Boynton, Delray

Narcosis, Starfish Scuba, Loggerhead/AirBNB: "Great winter diving in SE Florida", Feb, 2017,

by Gregory Bruce, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 16 Helpful votes). Report 9491 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I had a business trip to Florida and decided to leverage that into a 5 day mini dive vacation in SE Florida. I'm not sure about others, but I think it is often easy to think about dive vacations only in the context of getting out of the country and heading into the Caribbean or to the South Pacific or SE Asia and overlook the fact that we have some outstanding dive destinations domestically that certainly warrant strong consideration for a well planned extended stay. You'd think I would know better since I can get out and dive the Channel Islands every weekend from my house and have done numerous multi day liveaboards among them.

I decided to get an AirBNB room in Delray Beach and focus my attention on diving the gulf stream swept reefs off of West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. All of the diving was live boat drift diving. All divers should carry a DSMB and be competent in its deployment. Day 1 was a two tank morning trip with Narcosis out of West Palm Beach. Narcosis will put a dive guide in the water with a group or is happy to let you conduct your own dive. The boat is a 48 foot Newton that is super stable and fast and we only had 6 divers on the boat. Narcosis is very accommodating to bug hunters and spear fishers (as are most of the boats in SE Florida, it seems). Our 2 dives were on the deeper reef shelf that begins at about 78 feet and drops down to about 90 feet. Obviously, a nitrox blend of some % is the preferred gas in order to maximize bottom times. The highlight of Day 1 was being met by a 9 foot Bull Shark within 5 minutes of dropping onto the reef for dive one. What an impressive spectacle that was!

Days 2 and 3 were two tank morning trip and a 2 tank afternoon trip respectively, with Starfish Scuba out of Boynton Beach. We did drift dives on the shallower reefs south of the marina-- just off of Delray and Boynton beaches. The top of the reef is 45-50 feet and can drop to as much as 70 feet in places. I will say that the reefs down in this area are extremely "fishy"-- just loaded with large schools of snappers and all of the typical Caribbean reef fish: Angel Fish, Trunk Fish, Trumpet Fish, barracuda, very large 8 foot green morays, spotted morays, lobster, turtles (including huge loggerheads), nurse sharks and the occasional lion fish and on and on...Big barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans abound. Currents for the most part on all 5 days were non-existent twice to mild enjoyable drifts.

Day 4 we went out with Loggerhead, in the morning for a 2 tank trip. They also go out from Boynton Beach marina and just a few boat slips away from Starfish. Starfish was sold out that day. Loggerhead was more of the same shallow Boynton and Delray reefs, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Both Starfish and Loggerhead operate similarly. They do not put a dive guide into the water. Everyone is buddied up or diving solo (they have no qualms with solo divers and are not asking anyone to show certification). What they do provide is a large dive float SMB with a dive flag mounted to the top and attached to a line and reel. Each dive group or solo diver dives with the float and the boat is able to track all divers and pick them up shortly after they surface. Again, each diver should have their own SMB or DSMB in the event that they were to get separated from their group or buddy; or need to surface early. Both boats accommodate a maximum of 16 divers and have hot showers and marine heads on board.

The afternoon of Day 4 was spent shore diving the Blue Heron bridge adjacent to Phil Foster Park in West Palm Beach. We were fortunate that high tide was mid-afternoon and we were able to get our morning boat dives in and drive up to West Palm in time to dive. I will not go into detail about BHB, as much has been documented about it, but I will say that it is as described. You need to be in the water 30-45 minutes prior to high tide and can dive until 30-45 minutes after high tide. My max depth was 11 feet and average depth was 7.5 feet. This is all about critter finding and there are lots of them.

Day 5 was back with Starfish and we had a group of Great Lakes wreck divers on board and they wanted to dive the MV Castor. I did also, so that was perfect. The dive float line was tied off at the stern of the boat in 82 feet of water by someone using a DPV and we all dropped down the line in groups of 2-4 intermittently. The current was raging between 5 feet and 65 feet. I turned my head sideways a couple times to check on my wifeís descent and nearly had my mask ripped off. We slowly made our way down the line and when we hit 65 feet, the current subsided and was nearly imperceptible, but was still there- maybe ½ a knot. Visibility was at least 80 feet and you could make out most of the boat from stern to bow. The highlight here was reaching the stern and being greeted by 2 massive Goliath Groupers who have made the Castor their home. In all, there were 2 other Goliath's present for a total of 4. What an impressive sight. They were super docile and just hung around with us the entire time. The Castor rests in about 111 feet of water- so, the entire dive is conducted between 80 and 110 feet. We followed up the Castor dive with one last shallow reef dive that was as outstanding and enjoyable as all of the others.

Final notes: We were there from February 16th-20th, which coincided with Presidentís weekend. Itís always a good idea to book dives in advance for holiday weekends and any good weather weekend for that matter. We were fortunate to have 80 degree sunny days and water temp was a pretty consistent 72 degrees. My wife used a 7mm with hood and I was able to stay comfortable in my 3mm full suit combined with a 3mm vest/5mm hood combo. A full suit 5mm with hood would have been ideal, but that is the only exposure protection I do not own. Delray Beach is an awesome place to stay for topside beaches, restaurants, shopping and nightlife along Atlantic Ave. We found a very accommodating AirBNB for $50 a night, the diving costs are extremely reasonable for those who have or can bring their own tanks and weights ($70-$75 per 2 tank boat trip). If you rent tanks, add another $10 per tank for Aluminum 80ís and $20 for Nitrox Steel 80ís or 100ís. Most of the operators are charging around the same prices, give or take a few dollars. Narcosis did mention that they would provide discounts for multi day divers.

Bottom line is that a dedicated and planned dive vacation to SE Florida is absolutely worthy of consideration and I am already talking with my dive buddies about a group trip in the future. September and October is Goliath Grouper aggregation season when hundreds of them come together at once and the water temps are in the 80ís. Definitely worth considering.

[narcosisdivecharters.com link]
[starfishscuba.com link]
[loggerheadcharters.com link]

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Thailand, Vietnam, Channel Islands, So Cal Coast, Pacific NW, Monterey, CA, Grand Cayman, Bonaire
Closest Airport West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 71-73°F / 22-23°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 45-85 Ft/ 14-26 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Carry a DSMB or SMB and know how to use it. Surface 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 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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