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Quick drive down weekend trip ideas?

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Brian Huff, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Brian Huff

    Brian Huff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: North Carolina
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    116
    43
    I'm up in NC and most everything is closed up for the season.

    I'm thinking about heading down to FL for a fast weekend. Drive down Friday afternoon and then head back Sunday evening.

    I'm torn between Jupiter and the Keys, looking for some input.

    I'm OW with Nitrox cert and halfway through my Advanced having done two boat dives and deep already.

    Jupiter I understand is typically deeper and most dive boats might not let me on without the Advanced. However, I might have my instructor with me.

    What I'm wondering is how much more of a drive does it add to go to Key Largo and what kind of options would I have for last minute boats?
     
  2. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
    4,127
    2,737
    113
    If you are going to Mile post 100 in Key Largo it is about an hour from MIA and a bit more from Ft Lauderdale airport. So I would guess 1.5 hours further. Note that this is extra time down the interstate which is a bit less time than from Jupiter to Key Largo.

    I did some diving out of Ft Lauderdale with Sea Experience that was shallower reefs and wrecks. No advanced needed for the reefs and shallow wrecks. Dove Tennco towers with them also, awesome dive, but definitely AOW dive. Not sure your budget but there is a hotel right at the marina with Sea Experience. Can also drive up to BHB.
     
    Brian Huff likes this.
  3. Brian Huff

    Brian Huff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: North Carolina
    116
    116
    43
    Budget isn't as much of a concern, as long as a Hilton is somewhere close I've got hundreds of thousands of points for free stays.

    Hand't thought too much about Ft Lauderdale, but that is a great idea actually.
     
    Steve_C likes this.
  4. PoolsOpen

    PoolsOpen Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: SE Florida
    86
    64
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    From Jupiter to Key Largo it's about 2 1/2 hr drive. Personally I would just dive Jupiter or West Palm beach, if driving down from the North. Much better than Ft Laud.

    WPB has some 60 ft reefs that are maybe better for newer divers and you will also get to experience drift diving.

    In my experience its better to be Nitrox, since I have seen just OW divers on both, Jupiter Dive Center boats (Jupiter) and Narcosis (WPB). Both ops put dive guides in the water and they tow the flag.

    You will need SMB. Nitrox is the game changer. I have seen Captain advise air divers 25 minutes max and Nitrox divers 45 minutes max at Jupiter on 80 ft reefs.

    Call them to verify that OW will be accepted. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
     
    sportxlh and NothingClever like this.
  5. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
    4,127
    2,737
    113
    Do not assume that just because there is a guide that you will have one., Guides drift along and it is up to you to follow them. Was diving Jupiter once. We had lowish viz, maybe 30 ft. Current going south instead of North. Had an instabuddy with a large camera. We were last to splash and it took him an extra minute to get in. We looked around and the guide was gone. Had a nice dive but was guideless. On a WPB dive viz was better say 60 ft but it took some conscious effort to keep the guide in sight. He was drifting along up off the reef. Any time you dropped down he would drift ahead. Better to think of them as a marker holder as opposed to what some would call a guide. This is in no way critical of the DM in the water. Just pointing our what your expectations of them should be.
     
  6. NothingClever

    NothingClever Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    302
    326
    63
    Brian,

    I encourage you to visit Jupiter Dive Center. Fridays are their AOW ‘deep days’ and other days are their OW days. I had some killer dives with them back in July. I’ll be a repeat customer coming up in December. JDC is not inexpensive but SCUBA diving in general is not a cheap activity.

    I also went with Narcosis and wasn’t impressed but it may have been an off day for them. I know others have had good experiences so you may find them a good fit.

    Good counsel from Steve about the guides.....the drift dives on the Atlantic side are proper drift dives and you can get separated in a hurry. Keep an eye on the “flag bearer” for when he hooks off. You can helo turn, flatten out into a Superman position and hide behind a contour in the reef while you wait for the lolly-gaggers.

    Some dive centers make Nitrox mandatory for the dive profile. With JDC and their “deep days”, you’ll probably burn three mixes that day.

    Can’t finish your AOW while in Florida for the weekend?
     
    sportxlh likes this.
  7. seeker242

    seeker242 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pompano Beach, FL
    1,208
    727
    113
    Be sure to keep an eye on the weather reports. The boats stop going out when the wave height gets too big, which has been happening lately.
     
  8. sportxlh

    sportxlh Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
    2,578
    1,348
    113
    What sort of diving do you like? If you like shallow to mid-depth range reefs or wrecks that are tied off with mooring lines, then Key Largo is a good destination.

    If you want drift diving and you're a relatively independent diver, then Jupiter or WPB will be good spots. If most of your diving has been the NC wrecks, you probably won't have any trouble with the north Palm Beach county sites (or for the deeper wrecks in the Keys for that matter).

    You won't have trouble getting on a boat in either destination.... Its a slower time of year.

    If you looking for laid back vacation vibe when you're topside, I'd vote for they keys....that's where I go when I want a diving focused getaway. With that said, I dive Jupiter/WPB several times a year when I'm back in town visiting family and friends and really enjoy the diving there.

    Watch the marine forecasts.... Late fall is when marine conditions can start to get 'iffy'.
     
    Lostdiver71, PoolsOpen and Steve_C like this.
  9. divad

    divad Solo Diver

    7,869
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    22+ hours of driving for a couple of hours (maybe) of diving doesn't sound like a great deal.......but.... I am old and smell like eggs..
     
    NothingClever and Lorenzoid like this.
  10. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
    4,127
    2,737
    113
    I have popped down for a long weekend several times. But I did not drive. Flew to MIA or Ft Lauderdale.

    I have driven it for only 2-4 hours of diving but it also included 96 hours with in-laws. :)
     

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