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

Rainbow Reef Dive Center, May, 2011,

by Amy Dement, CT, US ( 2 reports). Report 6095.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Australia, Caribbean, Belize, Bonaire, Turks Caicos, Grand Cayman, Palau, Truk, Yap, Cozumel, Yucatan cenotes, Florida springs/rivers
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas currents
Water Temp 81 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Accommodations N/A 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 $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Just wanted to post a few words about my experience with this outfit. Was passing through Key Largo, solo, and decided to dive one of the wrecks that I'd heard about. This had some significance for me because about 25 years ago I had been in Key Largo with my dad, who has since passed away, and my first experience snorkeling was on a trip with him on one of those glass-bottomed boats. The moment I saw the reef and all the underwater life my mind was completely blown and I knew in that moment that I would be certified for scuba some day. Now, 25 years and more than 200 dives all over the world later, I was in Key Largo again. I called Ocean Divers first but they wanted $50 extra to put a divemaster in the water, otherwise they would just "pair me up with someone on the boat." I've had some not-so-good experiences with that scenario, and while I don't necessarily need babysitting underwater, as a solo diver I'd just as soon be with the divemaster than with someone of uncertain ability/dive attitude. So I called Rainbow Reef, where the divemaster is "complementary".

For the first dive, we dove the USS Bibb in a screaming current, which I am led to understand is unusual for that area--about what I had encountered as the norm when I dove the Yongala off Australia a number of years ago. The payoff was that for our second dive we got to do a drift dive, courtesy of that same current, on Molasses Reef (what the guides nicknamed "Slo-Mo"), also unusual as I understand. I liked Rainbow Reef's stellar customer service so much (no attitudes!; help with my tanks when I needed it, content to let me do my own thing when I didn't)that I stayed an extra day to dive with them again, a mellow reef dive this time, much like that first snorkel with my dad. You know, Florida is not necessarily known for its mind-blowing coral or gigantic pelagics or anything compared to some of the South Pacific diving I've done, but it was a nice mellow dive on French Reef, and a great reminder of why we get into scuba diving in the first place. I had a great time with these guys; Divemaster Madison is very knowledgeable about the area and has made it a point to educate herself about the reefs beyond the immediate area. Owner Bill Findley seems to really care about each customer's experience and about putting out a quality operation and there is no "cattle boat" mentality. Can't remember the names of the other crew but they were all great. Highly recommended.
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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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