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Dive Review of Rainbow Reef Dive Center in
The Continental USA/Florida Keys, Key Largo

Rainbow Reef Dive Center: "Charter boat diving in Covid era", Aug, 2020,

by Don Wikle, GA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 11486 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 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Booked several days diving in the Keys in early August 2020 a few week after the Keys started to re-open as a result of pandemic closures. Our main desire was to dive the main wrecks available to Key Largo boat trips, and this trip did not disappoint. We dove two-four dives each day, Thursday to Sunday.
The diving itself was some of the best conditions, visibility and wreck diving I have ever had in the keys having dived there on and off for over 20 years. Water temps were comfortable, seas were mostly flat, and there was basically little to NO CURRENT over the four days. I have never seen conditions this good in the keys, especially on the wrecks. We were able to double dip dives on the Duane and Spiegel, and we did back to back dives on the Bibb/Duane on two different days. To have an experience to dive the Bibb with free descent and free ascent was really amazing. Lots of life on the wrecks including bull sharks, turtles, goliath groupers and other large pelagics. It was a great 4 days of keys wreck diving. Our last dive of the trip was Molasses reef, and it was also great. Lots of macro live to explore, and waters were warm and clear.
Rainbow Reef is a large dive operation now, having merged with Ocean divers. They have 8 or more boats in their fleet, most of which are larger Newton Diver boats. Depending on the sites/locations you want to dive, there is a boat trip to fit your needs. Many have student divers, but there are options for more advanced divers. One charter we had the boat to ourselves (6 people including crew), and the captain let us choose the sites that day.
Covid protocols were fully in place at the dive center and other places in Key Largo. Masks were required everywhere, indoors and out. All captains and crew wore masks at all times when at the dock and enroute through the canals to the ocean. Once in open sea, masks could be removed. Boats were being booked at about half capacity, but that could still mean 20+ divers on a charter if the boat is certified for 40+. Most of the crew adhered to mask wearing rules, as did divers. Dive boats in the keys have had to shut town their marine head usage because the county had closed pump out facilities at marinas, at least in the Keys that was the case. No restroom during the dive charter, hello ocean. Boats did not offer community mask rinse or camera buckets, but they did have spray bottle of defog for any who desired to use it. There was no community rinse tank on the dock, but there were hoses available to rinse gear if desired.
With Rainbow Reef expansion, their boats dock on both sides of the canal (the old Ocean Divers location and the original Rainbow Reef location). Depending on what charters you are booking, you will depart one side of the canal or the other. We had the occasion to have to switch to the other side of the canal for an afternoon charter after a morning charter on the other side. It was a little inconvenient with gear lugging etc, but we had plenty of time to get lunch and gear up on the other side for the afternoon dives without any issues.
My only challenge with the dive operator was that they closed the shop as or before some boats returned to the docks in the afternoon/early evening. If you are not going to have marine head available, and divers are hydrating properly for multi day diving, please have a restroom available dockside when boats return in the afternoon :)
Websites Rainbow Reef Dive Center   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caymans, Belize, Roatan/Utilia, Bahamas, Cozumel, Truk Lagoon, FL Keys, FL Gulf, FL West Palm, Mozambique, California, Australia.
Closest Airport MIA Getting There Drove from GA to FL

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-60 Ft/ 15-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes max
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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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