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Dive Review of Pro Dive Shop in
The Continental USA/Fort Lauderdale, FL

Pro Dive Shop, May, 2009,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, United States (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 5114.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Key Largo, Pensacola, North Carolina wrecks, Thailand, Great Barrier Reef, Bonaire, Puerto Rico, Providenciales, Nassau, Catalina Island CA, Monterey, St Lawrence River wrecks
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 73 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions On wrecks, I don't think there were limitations except for the "Wreck Trek" - in which you had to form into groups of four, with one carrying a dive flag. In shallow reef dives, they imposed an hour limit, but you could explore whereever you wanted.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None 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 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments I seem to recall separate tubs of water for cameras.

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments My wife and I were looking for a relatively inexpensive place for a long weekend of diving and decided to take advantage of free lodging at a friend of ours in Fort Lauderdale. We had read that diving off of Floridas south Atlantic coast was pretty decent. We went with Pro Dive Shop, which is located only a few blocks south of the main drag of beach hotels at Fort Lauderdale Beach and 10 minutes from where we were staying. As we had not dove within the past year, they required us to do an orientation dive with a divemaster, which we did the first afternoon we were there. It turned out that it was by far the best of the shallow reef dives we dove (Barracuda Reef). Indeed if you go shallow reef diving, go south of the Lauderdale Cut if you can, not north of it in front of Fort Lauderdale Beach. It had impressive numbers of the usual suspects of small Caribbean reef fish, though nothing large, plus some rockfish, lobster, and lizardfish. The coral was OK, but not great. They contained overhangs similar to Key Largo.

For the rest of the two days we were there, we did the normal routine of first diving on one of the many small wrecks (generally 60-70 feet deep) a mile off Fort Lauderdale Beach followed by a dive on one of the nearby shallow reefs (30 feet deep). We dove the Tracy wreck, a small, somewhat interesting wreck with good easy swimthroughs loaded with grunts and a resident goliath grouper than one group flushed out. The second day we did their Wreck Trek, which consisted of being dropped at the end of a line of five small wrecks (including Tracy, Jay Scutti, Moon, and Mercy Jesus) all near each other in groups of four (one lugging a line to a flag on surface) and visiting as many of the wrecks as you want. The boat then would go and pick up the groups as they surfaced. Unfortunately, there was not really much time to explore any wrecks (granted they were pretty small) as you had to keep pressing if you wanted to see most of wrecks in one dive. While we were fortunate to have been paired with two excellent divers, I never like being dependent on the least common denominator and feeling rushed to get through the dive to cover so much at once. It didnt help that the wrecks mostly lacked many fish.

The second dives each day on shallow reefs were at Lauderdale Caves and Oakland Ridge, which were basically the same. There are three widely spaced fairly straight lines of reefs off the coast, so most reef diving is heading against the current one way and coming back with current after you hit half of your air (generally pretty easy navigation). Fish life was decent, but not as good as Barracuda Reef on first day. Visibility was decent on the wrecks further out in deeper water (maybe 50-60 feet?), But it was probably more like 30-40 feet on the shallow reefs, possibly because we were there during an extended period of thunderstorms whose waves, current, and surge probably kicked up the sand some. They imposed one hour limits on bottom time, but allowed you to explore on your own.

Pro Dive Shop had excellent staff and service and operated a nice, fairly large boat. It had little in the way of equipment sales in its very small shop (so dont count on getting a lot of equipment if you need it). There is a nice casual restaurant on the water right next to the shop which was nice.

An interesting bonus is that the ride out to the ocean goes past a bunch of almost obscenely plush mansions and yachts in Fort Lauderdale.

In sum, while Im not sure I would go to Fort Lauderdale just to dive, if you are local or are in the neighborhood anyway, it is definitely worth bringing your dive gear as any diving in pretty clear water with some reef fish is a good day. But it is clearly a step below Key Largo to the south and Palm Beach to the north.
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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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