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Would Key Largo Disappoint by comparison...

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Murky Waters, Jul 12, 2016.

  1. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Based purely on what's underwater, and assuming all other things (like cost) being equal, I would choose Bonaire, Curacao, Caymans (okay, I haven't been there), or Cozumel over Key Largo. However, to me there is more to the decision than just what's underwater, as every dive destination has something unique about it. Bonaire has the whole shore diving freedom thing going for it. Cozumel appeals to me in part because I like Mexico. Key Largo, despite continual development, still has a bit of laid-back "old Florida" feel to it. The Keys are a unique place. If you haven't visited the Keys before, the drive out to Key West (or at least part of the way) is an experience in itself.
    KathyV likes this.
  2. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    I'm going to Florida next August 2017 for the exact itinerary (without T&C), bringing 5 of my dive buddies to charter a dive boat from Quiescence for a morning dive in City of Washington & SS Benwood. Then head north to Jupiter for a night muck diving in BHB, followed with the next morning muck diving in BHB and chartering another dive boat (Aqua Hunter) for next afternoon dives to see the Goliath grouper spawning in the Corridor & Mizpah wreck. So, it's a long weekend trip.

    If you want to see beautiful corals & don't mind traveling half around the world, then go to Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
  3. pickens_46929

    pickens_46929 Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indianapolis, IN
    You'll find more interesting wrecks in the Keys :)
    And Palm Beach / Jupiter area for that matter.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8 Separate 1 week trips to Bonaire, 1 25-dive live-aboard trip to the Caymans (Cayman Aggressor IV) and 1 20-dive trip to Key Largo diving with Rainbow Reef Dive Center back in early September 2013, 10 dives in September in Jupiter, FL, and 9 dives out of Morehead City, NC.

    Only did 2 dives in Cozumel in a cruise ship stop; never dove Curacao. So that's my frame of reference, and I linked you to some of my trip reports in case they may help. What I think of Key Largo vs. Bonaire:

    1.) All boat dives. Lacks a sandy beach for non-divers. Relatively shallow sites (not all), often over flat bottom instead of sloping wall. Good viz. but not up to Bonaire standards; I'd say around 50 feet vs. 70-100 feet. Plenty good enough. Key Largo had some sites that seemed fishier, with a larger variety of sizable stuff. Bonaire has schools of French Grunts; Key Largo may have schools of Blue-Striped Grunts. Bonaire has a few skittish Tiger Grouper and occasional Cubera Snapper; Key Largo has Black Grouper, some Nassau, and on deep wreck dives Goliath Grouper. Never saw a shark on Bonaire; saw Nurse and Reef Sharks in Key Largo, plus considerably more string rays on average for a give # of dives. Seemed like more big barracuda in Key Largo, though can be seen either place. Key Largo had Gray Angelfish and Porkfish; never saw those in Bonaire.

    2.) Little Cayman and downright docile Nassau Grouper I've not seen the match of anywhere.

    3.) Jupiter, FL - deep drift diving (as in '90 feet to the sand') with lower viz. but good enough, drifting along the edge of a deep ledge or visiting a wreck (e.g.: Esso Bonaire, the MG-111), reef looked more like a lawn, basically a big animals destination and quite good for that. Got some nice Goliath Grouper snap shots, and they were the main reason I went. Plan to dive nitrox. (45 minute bottom time, then head up, was our typical experience).

    4.) Morehead City, NC - I threw in there because while it's all wreck diving, not reef (I heard some deep ledge diving down around Wilmington; haven't done that), you can O.D. on close-up Sand Tiger Shark action and see Amberjack, schools of Atlantic Spadefish, some big Barracuda, and basically see things you DON'T see in the Caribbean. Not a place I'd hit every year, but I'm glad I went.

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
    Murky Waters and KathyV like this.
  5. deeper thoughts

    deeper thoughts Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Take a look at the trip reports Reefman and I have posted. It would give you a good idea of what to expect here in the Upper Keys
    AdivingBel likes this.
  6. Trigger-F

    Trigger-F Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seminole/Indian Rocks, FL area
    KL/the Keys are pretty satisfying to me. It's no IndoPacific in terms of biodiversity, however, I'd say the shipwreck variety is world class. KL offers a good combination of reefs/fish/wrecks, a little bit of everything.

    You'll probably see the same fish/corals as in other Caribbean destinations, only a bit less. But it's basically in our backyard.
  7. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA

    Murky Waters likes this.
  8. Murky Waters

    Murky Waters Contributor

    Thanks for all the input. Good info all around. Still haven't made up my mind. Looking into Catalina now as well, if anyone here has any ideas about diving there. Thanks again.
  9. Buliwyf

    Buliwyf Banned

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Mid Ohio
    I had alot of fun in Key West and Key Largo. As long as you go diving or any boat charter or two every single morning, they're both great fun. Staying on either island and not chartering a boat of some sort stinks though. No idea why some tourists like that.

    I think people in the carribean eat sharks or something. All the cool sharks and rays I've seen were in the keys.
  10. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    • Bonaire: Pretty and sometimes pretty boring. Unless you get to the north side, the diving is pretty homogeneous. Lots of easy shore diving. Nothing to do, but dive
    • Curacao: Bonaire's wild sister. Definitely not boring, but not that varied either. Lots more to do after diving.
    • The Cayman Islands: Tropical but hit and miss. Far more varied, but safety is questionable.
    • Cozumel: Beautiful reliefs and walls. Varied, albeit sparse fish. Lots of gorgonians. Safety is also questionable. Mostly deep. Good restaurants, but there's not a whole, whole lot to do after diving.
    • Key Largo: From deep to shallow, the most varied diving in the Caribbean. Coral is spotty, but we've got amazing quantities of fish with the occasional shark not to mention that we have Coral Restoration nurseries. Also, this is the safest place to dive in the world. Add to that, that we are an hour from Miami and two from Key Largo, and we have more to see/do than all those other destinations combined. With no passport needed for the USA, we are indeed the Dive Capital of the World.
    Murky Waters likes this.

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