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Greetings from frigid, (semi-)frozen Boston! I'm planning a dive trip to Florida in early March (I bet there's a flood of these posts... right around now). I was OW certified last month, and haven't dived since . What are some good locations (for complete beginners like me) and general advice for diving in Florida?
And also, I'm a broke college student, please note some cheap dive shops and rental places
I know gold coast scuba is good with good prices and i think steve has a deal with windjammer or one of the other local places to stay. which are right on the beach and the shop is like 2-3 blocks from the beach anyways.
A really good area for new divers to dive is Key Largo.
Most if not all of the dive operators there are good.
You have not dove enough to know what you like or don't like - so try several and see what "really matters" to you.
You can find relatively cheap lodging there but the diving is all boat diving - so it will cost more.
I don't know the relative costs, and I don't know how 'broke is broke' for you, or what all options you have considered, or what part of the state you plan to stay at, since accommodations have a big impact on diving.
Are you aware of, or have you checked into, considered or considered these:
1.) Freshwater springs - like Ginnie Springs? Wouldn't need to pay a charter boat to take you out, at least.
2.) West Palm Beach - charter boat diving. I'm told this tends to be drift diving?
3.) Blue Heron Bridge - shallow diving part of the day (based on what the tides allow) at a bridge.
4.) Florida Keys - fairly shallow tropical reef diving by charter boat.
I'm guessing you want warm salt water dives with good viz. & coral reefs?
Would anyone knowledgeable about the Florida locations comment on how much the early March time frame will affect water temp.s & need for exposure protection?
What kind of exposure protection (e.g.; wet suit) do you already have?
As they have said, would help to know a little more. Like what area of Florida or does it matter and how deep do you want to go? Keys are great dives, shallower, Jupiter/West Palm area deeper and drift (which I personally prefer). Others are more knowledgeable about temps but last time I was there in March it was low 70's as I recall (will check logs tonight). I layered with farmer john 3 mm and 3 mm full suit with hood and gloves. The coldest was the boat SI time. Recommend dive coat.
i just checked, it was the third week of March 2010 and my dive computer read 66 to 68 that trip. Now i remember why we haven't been back in March!
Last edited by uncfnp; January 21st, 2013 at 11:02 PM.
Reason: New info
the east coast (jupiter) is much cheaper than the west coast (tampa) I imagine due to the shorter distances to sites, and larger groups on the east coast (not to mention more life). I don't know when you're going, but my buddy and I are going with jupiter dive charters on march 9th. they give you a free birthday dive and that's his birthday.
I was in Key Largo the first week of March last year, the water temp averaged 78 degrees, I'm cold natured, so I used a 5mil and hood. There were some surges. I use Rainbow Reef, they charge the same or less than the other charters, and there is a guide in the water at no extra charge. They have 2 boats that go out in the morning so diving shallow won't be an issue. They also have dive packages available.
rainbow reef is good -- i was using a 3mil sunday in jupiter and i would assume that march would be similar or a bit warmer. Looe Key isn't bad for a new diver either with lodging on site. not to mention that key west is 1/2 hr away from them. a college student not wanting to hit Duval st? Inconceivable!!
was just reading the OP post in another thread about his training experiences... i would probably recommend still Looe Key (avg depth is 15-20 feet but the critters are beautiful and the boat is right there... when i stayed there the back door of my room opened onto the dock), a guided trip - there are at least a couple in the keys that drop a DM no charge or most will do it for a small fee, or shore dives such as lauderdale by the sea or blue heron. both shore dive sites usually have decent amount of divers and are decently shallow. Both Gold Coast and Force-E do trips to blue heron bridge and i go out LBTS at least once a month (I love the full moon dives when i can...nothing more mesmerizing than surfacing and the first thing you see is the moon and the water and nothing else. -- ok i admit i like looking at my wife even more but that's another story.)
Last edited by iluvtheocean; January 22nd, 2013 at 05:59 PM.