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Marathon Dive trip report

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Sirto, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. Sirto

    Sirto Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Anderson, SC
    292
    4
    Trip to Marathon Key 10/22/13 – 10/30/13


    Flew US Air from Charlotte to Miami. Cost was $330 for coach


    Stayed at Coco Plum Club’s Bougainvilla condo (2br/2ba) (rented via Dolphin Vacations) for ½ price due to it being the slow season. $595/wk. They claimed to have internet access in the unit but it was only available in the pool area. They say they will be installing a new sitewide system soon.


    Apartment was nice enough although older. Large master BR with large closet. Nice pool, small beach but the water at the shore was dirty brown so you need to go to the beach down the road or to Sombrero beach which are both nice. Though I can’t be sure, I believe that the many itchy bites we both received may have been the result of bedbugs since we spent minimal time on the beach.
    .
    Dove with Hall’s Dive Center and were happy with them. They have a nice boat which holds about 12 people comfortably. The first day was perfect, flat seas and good visibility with water temperature of 81 degrees. The dive site was Sombrero reef and it was very nice with lots of fish life. Second dive was on Ivory wreck and the coral was not nearly as nice as on Sombrero. Unfortunately, the rest of the week was rather windy resulting in seas of 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 feet. This resulted in reduced visibility of about 25 - 30 ft and lots of surge since the dives were typically 25 ft max depth. We also had to limit the sites we dove to only a handful that were more protected from the wind. As a result, over the 10 dives we dove only five sites. Other than one of the mooring sites at Sombrero the coral we saw was not in good condition. There were a lot of jellyfish on most dives but they were usually in the top 10 feet so were only a problem getting in and out and we were never stung. The one problem with diving at this time of year is that sometimes the operators don’t get enough customers to make a trip. In our case a couple of the trips weren’t confirmed until a day or two prior to the trip. This problem also meant that we couldn’t book a kayak tour through the mangroves. Other than that everything was nice, reduced accommodation prices, warm but not too hot temperatures and lack of crowds.


    Had dinner at the Cracked Conch at MM50. Get the conch fingers!!!
    Cataways for lunch was very good. Hurricane (next to Tilden’s dive shop) has multiple TVs for watching football and has $0.25 buffalo wings and $5 pitchers of beer.


    We ordered the Sunpass mini prior to our trip to pay the tolls on the turnpike. $5 plus cost of tolls vs $7.99/day with the car rental company (every day whether you go through a toll or not).
     
    sportxlh and reefman like this.
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,584
    6,318
    Glad you had a good time. I hit Key Largo back in September, my first Florida Keys trip. Out of curiosity, what made you choose Marathon, vs. Key Largo or Islamorada?

    Richard.
     
  3. Sirto

    Sirto Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Anderson, SC
    292
    4
    We had been to Key Largo four times in the last eight years and wanted to try something different.
     
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,584
    6,318
    I wondered if it was something like that. I wasn't criticizing your choice; just curious as to how you made it. Any of us going on a trip may have choices, and it's interesting to see what goes into one.

    Since you've done both destinations now, how do you think they compare?

    Richard.
     
  5. Sirto

    Sirto Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Anderson, SC
    292
    4
    It's a little difficult in that this is the only trip we have taken this late in the year. That made it very uncrowded (which I like) but also limited our ability to do the kayak trip we wanted to do. We didn't miss out on any dive trips but very well could have due to lack of customers. The vibe in Marathon seems much more laid back than in Key Largo with much fewer(but enough) restaurants and dive operators. Looking back on my old notes from previous trips I had noted that the coral in Key Largo was also in not the best condition. I think Sombrero reef was the best we've seen in the keys. I understand that Looe Key may be in good condition.

    What did you think of Key Largo? Who did you dive with?
     
  6. victorzamora

    victorzamora Solo Diver

    3,041
    1,379
    Well, hello, fairly-local buddy! I'm glad you had fun. I went to Marathon (Key Colony Beach, actually) and we all loved it. We drove, as it was SO much cheaper (no plane ticket and no rental car) and, actually, it's less travel time. It might be something to consider next time.

    I'm glad the water was warm for you. I was there in March and the water was 72F. I also saw nothing less than 4ft seas while we were there....and in 25ft of water, the surge is miserable.

    I hope while you were there you stopped by Florida Keys Fisheries. That place has the BEST sandwiches: Lobster Reuben and Blackened Grouper. It's pretty much the only reason I want to go back to the Keys!
     
  7. deeper thoughts

    deeper thoughts Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location:
    6,366
    2,160
    thnx for posting
     
  8. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,584
    6,318
    Sirto:

    I dove with Rainbow Reef Dive Center; here's my trip report. As for my thoughts on Key Largo vs. some of my Caribbean diving, I'd break it down like this:

    Pro.s:

    1.) Cheaper flight to Ft. Lauderdale.

    2.) Staying in the U.S. means I'm familiar with the legal system, the road signs make sense and we're comfortable driving, stores offer most anything we want (K-mart, Publix, Walgreens, etc...), and if our baby had gotten badly sick, U.S. health care was close at hand.

    3.) Rainbow Reef's best package deal is for 10 2-tank trips; $600 + tax & any tips you leave. That's $30/tank for warm water tropical diving with a free guide in the water, about 30 minute+ boat rides out on fairly calm seas, a variety of dive sites including some deep wrecks, a fine variety of sea creatures & in places a lot of fish, and they have both morning and afternoon trips, so I crammed 20 dives into 5 days. Many destinations don't give you a 4 dive/day charter boat option.

    4.) Cheap airfare, fairly cheap hotel (3 adults, 1 baby in one room), cheap diving, basically the cheapest 1 week vacation dive trip I've been on, with options to go see things in the Everglades or Miami.

    5.) Wife and favorite dive buddy are both prone to sea sickness, so live-aboards haven't happened (yet). With a scopolamine patch, they can do charter boat dives.

    6.) Things I saw here that I didn't see in Bonaire (7 trips there): Grey Angelfish, Porkfish, Goliath Grouper, Black Grouper, Nassau Grouper, Hogfish (lots of Spanish Hogfish in Bonaire, though), Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, probably more I'm not thinking off off-hand. I love Bonaire, but the Keys gave me a different experience.

    7.) Shallow Reef Diving - skip the deep wrecks, and you're mostly diving 20 - 40 feet or so deep. If you want to scope out a good place to take a kid (say, 10 - 12 or so?) and you want to stay under 40 feet deep, Key Largo gives you some fine diving.

    Con.s:

    1.) Viz. was good, but not up there with Cozumel or Bonaire.

    2.) No substantial shore diving I'm aware of.

    3.) Not a 'sandy beach' destination; I usually could care less but my wife wanted to take our baby to play in the sand at the beach. Ironically, I'm told Marathon would've been the place to go...

    4.) While the water stays warm into part of November, from what I understand, it does cool off sometime. I can skip wet suits in 75+ degree water, and I don't like wearing wetsuits, so my dive trip plans factor that in.

    I used to consider someday taking a week trip to St. Thomas (did 2 2-tank boat trips on cruise stops there), but now that I've seen Key Largo, I've got to wonder whether there's a point?

    Richard.
     
  9. JesperS

    JesperS Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Venice, FL
    247
    123
  10. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    2,475
    1,543
    I'm with you Richard...it's great to have such quality diving available in our own back yard :D Rainbow Reef is also our operator of choice. Did you get to dive with Jesus???
     

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