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Visting Florida... recommendations for diving in Ft Lauderdale.. or go to Keys?

Discussion in 'Florida' started by kathleen2018, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. divad

    divad Solo Diver

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    I used to stay in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and just day-trip to Key Largo. I stayed in Key Largo with two different GFs and none of us liked staying there. Too desolate.....and weird.
     
  2. nolatom

    nolatom Captain

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Orleans
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    I haven't dived south of West Palm Beach, so I can't talk about Fort Lauderdale, or the Keys. But the drift-diving in West Palm and Jupiter is really fun, and dare I say, doable for beginners?

    The Jupiter crowd dives a little deeper and more spear-fishers on the boats. Still, you can ride the top of the (non-coral but still decent) reefs and drift along northward (usually) over the reefs at say 60-70 feet (the sand being about 90 feet down), watch the nice plants, fish, rays, turtles and a few small sharks. Really nice, your air lasts longer as does distance-covered, since you ride with the current along the reefs, never against it. And the boat follows the Dive Master's marker, so stay near the DM and whenever you surface, the boat is close. You do have to surface without an anchor line to grab onto, but it's not difficult, just dump a little BC air early and often, then level out at 15'

    The West Palm scene is in general a little more friendly for newbies, ledges a little shallower on average, fewer spearguns. Probably more insta-buddies available who are happy to make it a 55-65' dive rather than 85, if that's what you prefer. Same flora and marine life as Jupiter.

    Consider it, anyway. I second the Blue Heron Bridge, also known as Phil Foster Park. I usually "save" that dive for a day when it's too rough outside for the dive boats to go out. Also you need high tide for that dive, so check the tide tables for a daytime high. And try to avoid weekends when the parking lot fills up with lots of beachgoers, as it's a nice sheltered beach.

    Also, you can be tourists in Palm Beach, the Island is fun to see all the grand old hotels and buildings and rich folks who hide their houses behind incredibly tall hedges (the exceptions being the Trump mansion and a few others).
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  3. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
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    Rainbow Reef in KL puts a guide in the water but ounce you get your bearings go to Horizon Divers and enjoy. Up north near FLL Pompano Dive Center, South Florida Diving Headquarters.... There are many more good options in both areas I just haven't dove with them yet. Head a bit more south of KL and visit my friends at Islamorada Dive Center and Conch Republic.
     
    Tournesol2000 likes this.
  4. sportxlh

    sportxlh Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
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    I used to live in S. Florida and like diving in the Keys, FLL/Pompano and WPB/Jupiter.

    When I lived there, marine conditions usually started to get rougher in the fall and winter..... I assume weather and water conditions are similar these days. Its nice to have a back up plan like Blue Heron Bridge (you can hire a guide at Force-E or Pura Vida if you're not comfortable going by yourself).

    When I return to FL for diving vacations, I almost always go to the Keys. Another poster mentioned Rainbow Reef and they are really good with newer divers. They have guides, help set up gear, etc.

    When I'm in Florida to visit family and friends with a side of diving on a day or two, I usually dive with Jupiter Dive Center. I hesitate to suggest WPB or Jupiter unless you are nitrox certified. Yes, both location put a guide in the water with the float line, but they'll stay down until the last nitrox diver is ready to surface., if you are breathing air, you'll be coming up solo (or if you're lucky, with another air diver Insta-buddy).

    If marine conditions are decent, the shallow reef line in Pompano is beautiful and one of my favorite dives, especially near the Copenhagen wreck. South Florida Dive HQ has multiple trips to the shallow reef each week. If marine conditions aren't good, the surge can be brutal.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
    nolatom and chillyinCanada like this.
  5. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Illinois
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    When I took my family of new divers, the two really new ones appreciated the larger boat and DM guided dives with RainbowReef (Key Largo) and a few dives in even went for a drift dive with their smallest boat. Those were big steps then. I appreciated that they let me solo on the dives my wife sat out... and that their Price per dive goes down the more dives you make per stay.
    You pretty much have to boat dive there as the reef is too far out. That is an easy way to get started.
    If you want longer dives than that‘s not a good option.
    If you want to dive 1:1 with your own private DM, than that may still be a cost effective option compared to a small boat, but in that case you could avoid the crowd.
    Reversely, For my wife, the bigger boat and the larger number of divers were exactly what made her have mental comfort to step on such a boat. (She went from a lifelong non-swimmer and water phobic to diving. Took a good long while, but those boats did play a helpful role.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Illinois
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    :wink: Well, was it desolate because you did not bring both GFs at the same time ... or because you did? :wink:
     
    sportxlh likes this.
  7. divad

    divad Solo Diver

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    You clearly don't understand pussy[cat]-ego.
     
  8. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Illinois
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    True...
     
  9. Bubblesong

    Bubblesong Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Massachusetts
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    I have twice stayed at Sands Harbor Resort and Marina in Pompano Beach after flying into Ft Lauderdale. You walk out of lobby right to boats of two dive shops, South Florida is IN the lobby, Pompano Dive Center is a short walk down boardwalk. If ocean is calm, these boats to shallow sites are easier diving. If ocean is lumpy, shore dives may be bad too.
    Also has a pool there. If you plan ahead, and take online AOW classes, then schedule your checkout dives with one of the shops, you can get more training. We did this in one of our trips. The other trip we killed lots of lionfish.
     
  10. VicB2007

    VicB2007 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Fl
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    chillyinCanada likes this.

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