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August 19th, 2009, 01:13 PM
How do,

I am off to Florida in a couple of months time. I have dived Key largo a few times whilst staying in Miami and off to Orlando this time so the other half and kids can do the Disney stuff.

I do not really want to drive back down to the Keys (anymore than I want to spend days queing in theme parks) and wondered if anyone had recommendations for the Orlando area. I have dug about on the internet and Crystal River seems ok but is a couple of hours drive. I will need to rent kit as airlines are being awkward with weight.

I have done reef stuff in the Keys, Portugal and Western Australia and I am open water classified.

Any suggestions?

Thanks - jonnybigfoot

August 19th, 2009, 01:40 PM
Check out the Florida Conch Divers (http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/florida-conch-divers/) section of Scubaboard for the best ideas on diving in that area.

August 19th, 2009, 05:31 PM
South Florida Dive Headquarters (Pompano) and Jupiter Dive Charters (Jupiter) and Logger Head Dive Charters (Boyton Beach) are all within reasonable driving distance. Jupiter may require an AOW for most dives if memory serves.

South Florida Diving Headquarters (http://www.southfloridadiving.com/)


Loggerhead Dive Charters of Boynton Beach, FL (http://www.loggerheadcharters.com/)

We use them regularly and they are reliable. If your looking for bugs you may consider a beach dive anywhere from Sebastian Inlet south to Fort Pierce, decent dives if your on a budget.

There are several local springs and Crystal River is good for Manatee in the winter. Depends on what you want.

August 19th, 2009, 05:32 PM
moved to FCD

August 20th, 2009, 06:09 PM
Any suggestions?

Depends what kind of diving you are looking for, but here are my recommendations. Others will have favorite boats and all of them are very good. In order of Closest to farthest from Orlando.

Blue Springs/Orange City - 45 minutes North - Simple fresh water spring head, 60 feet to the sign, but can go deeper.

New Smyrna/Daytona - 90 minutes north - Sea Dogs, usually a couple of wreck dives to about 16 miles out, can hunt, viz is tough for photogs.

Jupiter - 2 hours south - Jupiter Dive Center or Scuba Works,,Big Big fish, lots of sharks, plenty of hunting. Definetely W/A for photogs, My personal favorite!

West Palm Beach - 2hrs 15mins south - Too many OPs but I like Abernathy's (http://www.scuba-adventures.com/index.php),and Hypnautical (http://www.hypnauticaldivecharters.com/),. Fantastic photography location, great viz, nice soft corals, hunting not typically encouraged. Nice wreck system also.

Boynton/Lantana - 2hrs 30mins south - I like Dive Charters Inc and Starfish,,Great reef system for macro photogs, some very unusual finds on this reef section.

Boca - 2hrs 45mins south - Diversity boat is my choice here, Capt Tony is just about the best on putting you on what you ask him to see.

Pompano/FLL - 3 hrs south - Too many OPs and I'm not a frequent diver of these spots, but for hunting I like Capt Conrad on Miss Conduct(6pk), A mandatory/must stop visit has to be Fill Express to see what a fill station on steriods looks like.

Key Largo - 5 or 6hrs depending on traffic - I won't even touch who to use, there's just too many, but that doesn't mean you can just walk on a boat. Make reservations for all the boats.

Hope this helps.

August 20th, 2009, 10:39 PM
Johnoly nailed it for you!
Nice work!

(Addicted to smilies right now....)

August 22nd, 2009, 02:16 PM
Will be across in Kissemmee on the 8th October, will probably be down the West Palm Beach area diving with Jim Abernethy between the 12th and 15th October, dived there in April and enjoyed our time with Jim Abernethy.
We done Breakers, Bath and Tennis, The Trench and Flower Gardens.
All excellent easy dives

August 23rd, 2009, 04:27 PM
Jupiter may require an AOW for most dives if memory serves.

Jupiter only requires AOW (and Nitrox) for the 3 tank dive. 2 tank dives do not require AOW or Nitrox

Johnybigfoot: I see that you are a newer diver: I found this outfit to be great when I got back into diving last year.... DM's on every dive, very safety oriented. When they know you are newer to diving, the DM's will keep an eye on you.

Welcome to The Scuba Club, America's Only Country Club For Scuba Divers in West Palm Beach, FL (http://www.thescubaclub.com/)

I still go out with them once in a while since they are one of the few that seem to consistently run a friday afternoon two tank dive (not that I'd play hooky from work or anything).

August 23rd, 2009, 11:19 PM
when are you going to be there cause im going to be in cocoa from oct3rd till the 10th and was trying to find some places to dive and some one to hook up. let me know.

May 26th, 2010, 06:13 AM
I'm coming this area next Thursday and was researching my options when I found this post. I'm hoping some of you may have some ideas!

The details: I'm flying into Tampa at 9:30am on Thursday June 3rd and staying with family in Longwood FL (about 30 mins north of Orlando) till I leave at 11am on Tuesday the 8th. Unfortunately the point of the trip for the wife is for her to go to Disney World, and I, like the original poster, would rather spend time driving to a nice dive than waiting in queue lines.

I probably won't end up diving every day, but I'm trying to see what would be possible on any given day that I'm there...

I'm coming a day earlier than her and staying a day later, and she's flying into MCO. I'd really like to dive in the Tampa area on my first day there, and there's a bunch of boats in Clearwater only a half-hour from TPA, according to greater-tampa-bay-area/157898-any-charters-tampa-clearwater-9-28-a.html . But this first trip at least would have to be an afternoon dive. It seems from diveclearwater that the Plunger does afternoons, so I emailed them and will call them. Do you know who else does and expects to have enough interest to run an afternoon boat?

Friday I'll probably pick her up at the airport at 9:30am and spend the day with her at the theme parks rather than making her take a cab (though I'm tempted...) But if I could get her to the parks and then get myself to an afternoon dive, that would be better. This might be a good time to do Blue Springs/Orange City since I should be able to get her to the parks and still have plenty of time for an afternoon dive. Are the shops in the area likely to have enough interest to be able to buddy me with someone else who would want to dive this in the afternoon with no overhead (I've never done springs/caverns before), or might any of those shops do a guided spring dive in the afternoon?

For Saturday and Sunday it's cheaper to rent TWO cars than stay on Disney property ($18 a day for all 5 days for me in TPA and $20 a day for the two days for her from a local rental in Longwood, including taxes!), so for Friday and Saturday, I should be able to do morning dives wherever, and this thread was helpful in localizing things closer to this area. Her plane leaves at 6:30 on Monday, so I should have plenty of time to get to a morning dive for Monday. So really, I should have the pick of anything in Johnoly's post for Monday, right? What would you recommend that's on the closer side rather than farther?

What do you all think of this plan?

Thanks for any suggestions you can provide!

May 26th, 2010, 07:48 AM
I lived in Orlando until recently. I can attest that it is not a very convenient locale to dive openwater out of. On your itinerary its doable but not easy. Morning dives out of the locations mentioned will mean you need to LEAVE Orlando/Disney area anywhere from 6am (Jupoter) to 5am (Ft Lauderdale/Delray) for 730 show/830 go. You would be back to the dock about 1130, back in Otown around 2pm.

I would suggest a day diving the springs around Orlando (there are MANY and most are diver friendly) and one day drive for an OW boat dive. I have been out with most of the ops mentioned and never had a bad experience. Competition is pretty fierce so they want to treat you right!

All dive ops listed are on the east coast, to far from Tampa (west coast) unless you want to invest a full day including drive time.

For a unique Tampa area dive consider going down to Venice Beach. There is an entire forum devoted to Venice Beach Fossil Divers. Go find a Mega Tooth!

June 1st, 2010, 12:21 PM
I have just returned from a fortnight out in Kissimmee and did 2 morning dives with Plunger at DiveClearwater last Thurs and Wednesday before. I cannot recommend them highly enough and Capt Rod certainly knows his stuff

The bad news for you is that they are only doing morning dives at the moment as i was hoping for some afternoon dives myself after seeing their website
It is an early start as I was in the car at 6 am both days for a 7.30 show/8.00 go but it is an easy drive from Kissimmee/Orlando

One option to consider is taking the wife and kids with you, as I did last Thursday. I know it's an early start but the location of the Plunger couldn't be better for non divers. It is right on the beach at Pier 60.They just went for some breakfast when we got there and hit the beach at about 9.00. I was back at 12.30/1.00ish to join them and we all had a great day all round
It was so good that we will be going back when we are out again in August

After last week I can't understand why the Gulf side is not mentioned more often by people recommending trips from Orlando. I'll admit that there isn't as much life as FL/Keys way but it's not as if you don't get to see anything...got some great shots of a sting ray and barracuda last week as well as loads of other stuff to make it more than worthwhile. I'll be making a trip down South in August too for a couple of days but for the day trip, Clearwater ( and especially Capt Rod and the Plunger) have won me over

Good luck

June 1st, 2010, 03:50 PM
How was the vis on your dives with DiveClearwater?

June 2nd, 2010, 02:09 AM
How was the vis on your dives with DiveClearwater?

pretty good at 25-30 ft.....again, not as clear as down SE granted but still fine by me....the 79F water also helps

June 21st, 2010, 07:17 PM
Can you guys tell me how the oil spill is affecting diving both in the Gulf and on the east coast of florida? I'm also planning to travel to Orlando (May switch to daytona beach also if the diving is better there) for a week in Mid November and would like to dive. However, I want to plan ahead of time on where to go. Anyone have any opinions on which side of Florida to dive on given the spill and also aquatic life to see. This will be my first time diving while staying somewhere, we've done all of our diving at cruise ship ports.


June 21st, 2010, 08:08 PM
If you want good vis (40+ ft) then stick to the Keys or SE Florida. The vis in the gulf and up north on the east coast off Daytona isn't nearly as good as the Keys and SE Florida. For the most part, the only people that dive north of Ft Pierce are the lobster/spearfish crew and they don't seem to mind 10' vis. :)

June 21st, 2010, 08:47 PM
great, thanks. Any idea if there are any good dive operations closer to orlando than Jupiter? That is about a 3 hr trek from our hotel. We'd end up getting another hotel there and dive 2 days if not.


June 23rd, 2010, 05:31 PM
This May I drove down to West Palm Beach from Orlando area, leaving about 6am, done 2 dives and drove back the same day, getting back around 7pm, pretty tiring day.

I also dived over 2 days the previous April and stayed 2 nights in the marriot courtyard, much better option as we were not rushing about :D

June 23rd, 2010, 08:56 PM
great, thanks. Any idea if there are any good dive operations closer to orlando than Jupiter? That is about a 3 hr trek from our hotel. We'd end up getting another hotel there and dive 2 days if not.


We live near Heathrow (north of Orlando). It takes us just under 3 hours to get to the Riviera Beach Marina (Palm Beach) from our house. It should take closer to 2 hours 15 minutes if you're staying in the Dismal World tourist area. We take I4 south to the turnpike, turnpike to Jupiter, hop over onto I-95 down to Palm Beach.

We normally drive down Saturday morning, do 2 afternoon dives, stay overnight and then do 2 Sunday morning dives and then drive home Sunday afternoon arriving home by 4 PM.

Makes us appreciate the liveaboard dive trips. :)

June 24th, 2010, 08:35 AM
I live in Orlando and make day-trips to go dive in West Palm / Riviera Beach. It's about three hours each way, but I skip the turnpike. I refuse to spend $20 in tolls just to save 15 minutes. I take SR 528 ($1.50 tollbooth if you get on at SR436, but two other tollbooths if you get on at I-4) to I-95 and cruise 95 south all the way down to WPB. As long as you aren't doing it during weekday rushhour traffic, it's only a few minutes longer than the Turnpike and a hell of a lot cheaper!

I've also done day-trips to Venice Beach, which is about 2 1/2 hours away, with no tolls. The vis is nothing to write home about, but finding fossils is fun!

The only close and convenient diving to Orlando is typically spring dives, which aren't very exciting for an ocean-loving fish-watcher like me, but I dive them anyway because they are close and cheap and full of water and more exciting than my apartment swimming pool.

Blue Spring in Orange City ($15 per diver, OW to 60') is only about 35-45 minutes away from downtown Orlando. Alexander Springs in Altoona ($6 or so per diver, OW, max of 25') is about 1 hour away.

If you're going to be stuck at the parks anyway and don't mind the 'fishtank' experience, you could always do EPCOT's DiveQuest. That way you can combine your family's want to do the parks with your dive. ;)

June 28th, 2010, 11:24 AM
Wow so there are tolls that are that expensive? I may tell our GPS to avoid toll roads then.. We're staying at Cypress Pointe Grande Villas in Orlando for the week and decided to rent a place in Boynton Beach for one day for our two days of diving. We are going to dive w/ Jupiter dive center one day and the next with underwater explorers. I just need to research these crazy tolls in Florida now..


June 28th, 2010, 03:45 PM
From I-4 to W. Palm Beach (Okeechobee Blvd.) is $11.90 one-way. So, over $20 for the round trip. It's ridiculous. With the SunPass, it is a dollar or so less. But still insane.

Here's your basic toll calculator for the Florida toll systems:

Toll Calculator XML version 2.751 (http://www.floridasturnpike.com/TRI/index.htm)

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