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Trip Report - Diving Key Largo with Rainbow Reef Dive Center

Discussion in 'South Eastern United States' started by CajunDiva, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    1,646
    770
    113
    We just returned from an 8 day trip to Key Largo and I wanted to share our experiences while the memories are still fresh ;)

    Having past experience with this dive op, we chose to dive with Rainbow Reef Dive Center. They have a very informative and comprehensive website and I was able to research our options thoroughly. RRDC offers dive packages which include discounted lodging at several properties located strategically around the marina at Key Largo. This seemed advantageous to us since we wanted to stay at a property near the dive shop. This trip we decided to try out "Suites at Key Largo", which has now become "Key West Inn". One phone call to RRDC was all it took...they took care of the hotel reservation for us and we received e-mail confirmations. The arrangements were taken care of as promised and upon arrival our room (well, really more like a small townhouse) was ready for us. Each unit at Key West Inn has a downstairs area with living room (including queen sized sleeper sofa), bathroom, kitchen and balcony overlooking the marina as well as a large bedroom upstairs with an additional bathroom. We found that while the unit was not pristine, it was more than adequate and for $99/night we felt like we got quite a good deal. It was located right across the canal from "Sharky's", a local restaurant frequented by the dive community in Key Largo. There is live music every night, but they shut it down around 10:00 pm, so it's not a sleep disturbance unless you go to bed very early. We enjoyed sitting out on our screened in balcony each evening listening to the music...free entertainment!

    Regarding the diving, I don't think we could have picked a better dive op to dive with. RRDC is a well-run operation. They have three boats located right at the head of the canal behind their dive kiosk at the marina as well as a retail store and offices on the main highway coming into Key Largo. We stopped at the store on the way into town and were able to confirm our dive arrangements.

    We chose to dive mornings and take the afternoons off to "play". Each morning we arrived at the boat to find a very organized check-in and boat assignment process. Boats were boarded and departed promptly each morning in order to assure time for two leisurely dives at a variety of dive sites in the waters of Key Largo. Where RRDC really shines is with their employees. All members of the staff I interacted with were incredibly helpful and friendly. Emphasis was placed on safety and information was well communicated. There was always a staff member there to assist you to the back of the boat and into the water, and the same process was reversed when you concluded your dive. Dive guides are included on each dive at no additional charge. If you prefer to dive on your own it's no problem, they just make sure to review all of this information before each dive. After each dive, the captain performed a roll call to make sure all divers were present and accounted for.

    We were able to sample all three boats and found that there was room to move around and gear up without any problems. The captain gave comprehensive safety briefings before departure and dive briefings at each site. Not one time did I have a tank with less than 3100 psi. The staff at RRDC is obviously skilled with their air compressor:D One area that could use a little tweaking are the camera tanks. Only because there were several divers with very large cameras, I had a few issues with having enough room in the tanks for my camera.

    We dove with RRDC for five days and sampled reef diving as well as wreck diving. I was truly amazed at not only the quantity, but the quality of the fish life in Key Largo. We spotted numerous species of fish including a couple we had never seen before! I had a field day taking pictures and shooting video. The day we dove the USS Spiegel Grove, there was absolutely zero current and the visibility was really good. It was by far my best ever dive on the Grove, and I have a new respect for that magnificent vessel. In the future I will be enthusiastic about diving her each and every time we visit the area.

    Overall I would give Rainbow Reef Dive Center the highest of marks. They have made loyal customers out of us and we will continue to visit Key Largo and dive with them whenever the opportunity arises. During our five days of diving, I accumulated numerous photos and video clips. I am doing my best to learn how to edit the images but haven't made lots of progress just yet. So here is my best effort at putting together a few of my favorites from the week...please be gentle :(



    *NOTE: This is 1080p and best viewed full screen
     
  2. bottomfeeder22

    bottomfeeder22 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Lafayette, LA
    183
    1
    0
    Great report, CajunDiva! FWIW, I know CajunDiva very well and she calls em like she sees em, good or bad! My buddy used to live in Pembroke Pines and has dove w/ RR before; he enjoyed his time there as well. RR seems like a great op and I've made my decision on who I"m diving with on my trip to the Keys next summer. I'm jealous that I couldn't go this year, but unfortunately work calls.... Thanks for posting up some video to get me through as I sit under the flourescent glow of my office.... sigh.

    What did you do for "fun time" in KL? Every time I've gone, we've dove all day every day - what topside sites did you enjoy the most?
     
  3. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    1,646
    770
    113
    Hey Buddy! We're sorry you couldn't make it too. But let's get the planning underway for the next trip. We had such an amazing time that we'll be ready to go back any time. Key Largo is so darned convenient :)

    This trip our "fun time" was really fun, but not really good for us. We dove every morning and every afternoon became a quest to find the best Key Lime Pie and/or Ice Cream in the vicinity :rofl3: Fortunately I dove enough to keep from gaining any weight :D
     
  4. htiger

    htiger Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Alabama
    9
    5
    0
    CajunDiva,

    Enjoyed the video! And thanks for the look at RR. I've been to the Keys once and that was back in '94. We stayed and dove in the Marathon area. Have wanted to go back and try something different ever since...just haven't done it.


    Do you guys ever dive the Gulf Shores, Alabama, to Panama City area? That's my usual diving. Last time I was there, there was a very nice father/son from your area doing their cert check-out dives at the jetties at St. Andews State Park.

    Best,

    Jim
     
  5. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    36,350
    13,502
    0
    Wow -- that looks like some fantastic diving! LOVE the huge school of fish off the wreck. But I have to say, one of the things I really enjoyed about that video was the lovely diving skills on the part of your buddies. That's what good diving should look like -- stable, quiet, and obviously joyful.
     
    CajunDiva likes this.
  6. Scott L

    Scott L Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Palm Beach, FL
    10,277
    1,356
    113
    Excellent! The visibility and coral life in the beginning was fantastic...
     
    CajunDiva likes this.
  7. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    1,646
    770
    113
    Hi Jim -

    We dove Destin for our open water check-out dives. We recently dove in Gulf Shores, but unfortunately booked through a dive shop that really left us in the lurch so we didn't have a great experience. I love the gulf coast - after all, it's home! But the quality of the diving along the gulf coast is only "OK". If I didn't get so seasick it would be great to go out a little further and dive the rigs or especially the Flower Garden Banks. I might try it some day since I have now found medication that really controls my stomach when I'm on a boat :D

    Our first dive trip was to Roatan, which we fell in love with. Then we discovered the diving in the Keys. We visited there and dove with Rainbow Reef numerous times before feeling we had enough experience under our belts to start spending our savings and traveling to some pretty awesome places around the world. Since that time we have visited Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Hawaii and Roatan many more times.

    So now we're ready to stay closer to home and have made a return to Key Largo. It had been four years since our last dive there, but even though we have seen some pretty cool things in the mean time, Key Largo still held the magic for us. We consider Rainbow Reef Dive Center and Key Largo just like home!

    ---------- Post Merged at 03:07 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 03:01 PM ----------

    Yep...that was quite a bait ball :D All those fish have been swarming around the Benwood wreck for some time now. I actually got lost in the midst of them one time!

    We always make it a point to adopt an attitude of calm serenity when we dive. I can assure you we are in the midst of feeling absolutely blessed for having the ability to enjoy something so wonderful. As for our two buddies...they're just hopelessly in love - makes you sick, huh :rofl3::):rofl3: It was a pleasure diving with them.
     
  8. PerlDiver

    PerlDiver Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Huntsville, AL
    76
    1
    0
    Thanks for the report. Makes me want to go back to Keys even more now. Key Largo vacation a few years ago was the best vacation ever. Can't wait to get back on those reefs and wrecks down there.

    Bruce
     
  9. mselenaous

    mselenaous The Handler Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Key Largo, FL... Dive Capital of the World
    5,046
    1,822
    113
    Great trip report. Thanks for sharing. I love to read about our great dive ops doing a good job and divers enjoying our fantastic diving!
    Did you meet Capt Dean? One of my fav KL capts...he's a real sweetie pie.

    Happy Diving!
    Elena
     
  10. RAD Diver

    RAD Diver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
    1,092
    15
    0
    Very nice video, enjoyed watching it,except the part with the diver petting the eel,the SG sure is nice with no current.
     

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