Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Brian D. Tracy, O.D » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 01:02:55


I am planning a trip to Florida next summer.  I will have 2 weeks.  I
will spend ~10 days diving and then need 5 days at Disney World.  I had
thought to Fly to the Keys and then drive to Orlando.  Where are the
best dive sites in Florida?  Is the Atlantic side better or the Gulf?
Would you recommend landing elsewhere?  What are good Dive Operations in
these area?  I have not dove anywhere in Florida. Any help is
appreciated.
Thank You
Brian
 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Lee Bel » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 02:45:26

Brian D. Tracy, O.D. wrote

Quote:
> I am planning a trip to Florida next summer.  I will have 2 weeks.  I
> will spend ~10 days diving and then need 5 days at Disney World.  I had
> thought to Fly to the Keys and then drive to Orlando.  Where are the
> best dive sites in Florida?  Is the Atlantic side better or the Gulf?

You have not asked a simple question and, lacking knowledge of your diving
preferences does not make it any easier.  I'm going to assume you are not
interested in caves because if you were qualified for cave diving, I'd
expect you to know where Florida's best are.

Flying to the Keys may not be your best option.  I suggest you do some
research on prices and decide based on the results.  Check flights into
Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Key West.  All may be a
good starting point.  Don't forget to check rental car prices.  They may not
be the same in all locations.

Starting from the bottom of the state and working my way up.
- I'm not impressed with the diving in or around Key West, but the city
itself is worth the trip.  You'll want to see sunset at Mallory Docks, spend
some time trying to drink the Duval Street strip dry and maybe even take a
ride on the Conch Train.  Take a dive trip from Key West if you must, but
I'd move a bit further north for my diving.

- About 30 miles from Key West, you'll find Florida Reef Divers, Jim Wyatt's
operation.  Jim and I have yet to meet, but everybody I've sent to him as
well as everybody I know that sent themselves to him, have had good things
to say.  The two must see dive sites in the area are the Adolphus Busche and
Looe Key.  Go with Jim if you can.  Go with somebody else if you can't.
Plan on having lunch at the No Name Pub.  You'll have to get directions from
a local and you'll want the T shirt.

- My next stop to the North would probably be in Marathon.  I don't dive the
middle Keys much, so I'll let somebody else tell you what to see.  Captain
Banny of Never Enough Divers seems to be a friend of this group.  Give him a
try and see if you don't agree with those that like his service.  I tried to
meet him the last time I was in the Keys, but he was out diving while I was
in the area.  If conditions are good, the diving will be good.

- The next stop is probably Islamorada.  Lady Cyana divers is a favorite in
this area and you can tell Gloria I said so.  She's now a partner in the
Islamorada Bakery/Bob's Bunns which is probably the best place for breakfast
in the Keys.  The skillet with the corned beef hash is great.  The Bibb and
Duane are the long term primary attractions in this area and I believe the
newly sunk and highly controversial Spiegal Grove is visited from here as
well.  Personally, I'd do the Spiegal Grove from Key Largo.  Conch Republic
Divers also leave from Islmorada.  I've not been diving with them, but I
have met them.  People that nice have to be good operators.

- Key Largo is the northern most of the Keys and the access point for
Pennikamp State Park.  Most visitors just have to see the Christ statue and
you should not be the exception.  I'd do the Spiegal Grove from here.
Quiesence is the favored shop in Key Largo.  My second choice would be
Spencer Slate, primarily because he went through a rough time working on the
sinking and deserves the business in return for his effort.  Any trip that
Spencer himself goes on will be better than the ones he does not go on.

- Once you leave the Keys, you're getting into prime wreck diving territory.
Miami has its share and the Bayside attraction is worth seeing.  On the
other hand, Ft. Lauderdale beach is more to my taste and the diving is, in
my opinion, better.  Since I live in this area, I'm a bit biased.  On the
other hand, I was born and raised in Miami Dade County.  Take your pick of
oeprators, most are good, even if cattle boats do tend to be the rule.
Wreck diving is the attraction in this area.  We have reefs, but they're not
as good as those further north or further south.

- My next stop would be Boynton Beach.  Boats from this overlap those that
leave from Ft. Lauderdale.  From Boynton, north, you're talking drift diving
and the reefs are, once again, the attraction.  The visibility is not as
reliable as it is in the Keys, but the reefs and fish are healthy.  I have
used three of the oeprators out of Sea Mist marina in Boynton.  Lynn
Simmons/Splashdown Divers is the group favorite, followed by Leo Sand/Deeper
and Little Deeper.  Loggerhead is also good.  I can't speak about other
operators in this area, but I've never heard anything bad about any of them.

- When you get to West Palm, you're at the north end of my experience.  Jim
Abernethy did a shark dive before the state banned the feeding of fish.  If
the ban has not taken effect, he's probably still doing them.  Since this
may be your only chance to do a Florida shark dive, now's the time to do it.
Even if the ban has taken effect, Jim's a good operator.  I've also been out
with Renee on the SS Minnow, another good operator.

- If you're here in the winter, you might enjoy driving across the state to
the Crystal River area.  That's were you'll find manatees most reliably.
Petting a mantee is worth doing, but it's the only thing on Florida's west
coast I'd travel to do in the water.  Don't bother renting scuba equipment
for the manatees.  They respond better to snorkelers anyway.  Crystal
River's a hop, skp and a jump from Rainbow River, which is a fun, if shallow
drift dive.  It'll give you a sense of just how clear our spring fed waters
can be.

By this time, you're close to Orlando and your 10 days of diving are pretty
much up.  Hope you save enough energy for Disney.  BTW, there's more than
Disney in the Orlando area.  Universal Studios and MGM also have major
operations.  If you've got the energy, an evening at Church Street Station
is also worth the effort.

Lee

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Charlie Hammo » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 02:54:38


Quote:
>I am planning a trip to Florida next summer.  I will have 2 weeks.  I
>will spend ~10 days diving and then need 5 days at Disney World.  I had
>thought to Fly to the Keys and then drive to Orlando.  Where are the
>best dive sites in Florida?  Is the Atlantic side better or the Gulf?

Brian --  Rather than flying to Key West, which means you change in
Miami or elswhere to a twin-turboprop, consider flying in to Miami
(or Ft Lauderdale, or even West Palm Beach) and driving from there.

Summer is even hotter and more humid than the rest of the year in
south Florida.  Be prepaired with sun-block, and drink plenty of
liquids.  This applies to Orlando/Disney World too.

There is "good" diving in many locations along the Keys and along the
"Gold Coast" (Miami-West Palm Beach).  I've been in this area for
4+ years now, and, frankly, I don't think the diving is that great.
Not compared to Cozumel, Belize or Turks and Caicos, for example.
But it is not bad either -- worth the effort certainly.

I've not dived the west coast, but from reputation the east is much
better.  Its mostly boat dive -- not shore diving.  During the week,
it is pretty easy to find a spot on a dive boat.  Weekends can be
booked up well ahead.  Check the archives, or call some local dive
shops when you get here.

--
      Charlie Hammond -- Hewlett-Packard Company -- Pompano Beach  FL USA

      All opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily my employer's.

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Lee Bel » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 05:35:15

Charlie Hammond wrote

Quote:
> Summer is even hotter and more humid than the rest of the year in
> south Florida.  Be prepaired with sun-block, and drink plenty of
> liquids.  This applies to Orlando/Disney World too.

This applies especially to Orlando/Disney World.

Quote:
> I've been in this area for
> 4+ years now, and, frankly, I don't think the diving is that great.
> Not compared to Cozumel, Belize or Turks and Caicos, for example.

A newbie.  You just haven't grown to appreciate the finer aspects of this
paradise we live in.  8^)

Quote:
> I've not dived the west coast, but from reputation the east is much
> better.  Its mostly boat dive -- not shore diving.  During the week,
> it is pretty easy to find a spot on a dive boat.  Weekends can be
> booked up well ahead.  Check the archives, or call some local dive
> shops when you get here.

There's some good shore diving, in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin
Counties, but you have to be careful.  There are also a lot more boats than
there are competent captains to guide them.  You also have to get someone to
show you where they are.  Ask Limey Dave the next time you talk to him.  He
lives quite close to some of the best shore diving in the state.

Lee

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Charlie Hammo » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 05:44:15


Quote:

>Charlie Hammond wrote

>> Summer is even hotter and more humid than the rest of the year ...
..
>> ...frankly, I don't think the diving is that great.
..
>... You just haven't grown to appreciate the finer aspects of this
>paradise we live in.  8^)

You're right, Lee. <grin>

But to be honest, why, just the other day... ah, no, that was back in PA.
Well there's always... opps, no again, that was up in MA.  Or maybe NH?

At least Florida know how to spend too much money for automated voting
machines that... Oh, No!  They don't work either!

[think-think-think...] AH!  Our local radio has some of the best coverage
in the nation for highway closings, blockages and delays!

Whatever...

    [Good thing I didn't mention that the highest point is southeast
     Florida is the "mountain" at the garbage dump...]

Yes, you could say I miss the change of seasons and the mountains
of New England.

My appologies to any who are offended by my having a pick-on-Florida day.
I'll get over it -- to some extent...

--
      Charlie Hammond -- Hewlett-Packard Company -- Pompano Beach  FL USA

      All opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily my employer's.

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Lee Bel » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 06:49:55

Charlie Hammond wrote

Quote:
> [think-think-think...] AH!  Our local radio has some of the best coverage
> in the nation for highway closings, blockages and delays!

. . . and our police don't follow killers in SUBs for hours before putting a
stop to their flight.

Quote:
>     [Good thing I didn't mention that the highest point is southeast
>      Florida is the "mountain" at the garbage dump...]

Florida has several mountains:
Cornelia, Mount, in Duval County, 60 feet above sea level
Sand Mountain in Polk County, 125 feet above sea level
Sand Mountain in Washington County, 250 feet above sea level
Sandy Mountain in Walton County, 260 feet above sea level
Iron Mountain in Polk County, 295 feet above sea level
Sugarloaf Mountain in Lake County, 312 feet above sea level

and, are you ready for this?

Britton Hill, in Walton County, 345 feet above sea level, the lowest,
highest point in the state in the United States.

Quote:
> Yes, you could say I miss the change of seasons and the mountains
> of New England.

We have a change of seasons.  There's the dive skin season and the wetsuit
season.  No matter what those guys up in High Springs say, there is no
drysuit season in Florida.

Quote:
> My appologies to any who are offended by my having a pick-on-Florida day.
> I'll get over it -- to some extent...

A state that manages to***up a simple thing like voting, even when aided
by a computer, has to have a well developed sense of humor.

Lee

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Dan Brac » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 06:36:23

From "Brian D. Tracy, O.D."
: I have not dove anywhere in Florida. Any help is
:appreciated.

This place is nice:

http://www.reef-divers.com/

Here is my trip report for that dive shop:
http://www.pathcom.com/~bracuk/Trips/Florida/Report.htm

Dan Bracuk
Toronto, Canada
All men are cremated equal.
Best of Rec.Scuba http://www.chaoticarts.com/~scuba/

-----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
http://www.newsfeeds.com - The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World!
-----==  Over 80,000 Newsgroups - 16 Different Servers! =-----

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Pope » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 09:10:09

Quote:


>Date: 9/16/02 5:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time

>Charlie Hammond wrote

>> [think-think-think...] AH!  Our local radio has some of the best coverage
>> in the nation for highway closings, blockages and delays!

>. . . and our police don't follow killers in SUBs for hours before putting a
>stop to their flight.

>>     [Good thing I didn't mention that the highest point is southeast
>>      Florida is the "mountain" at the garbage dump...]

>Florida has several mountains:
>Cornelia, Mount, in Duval County, 60 feet above sea level
>Sand Mountain in Polk County, 125 feet above sea level
>Sand Mountain in Washington County, 250 feet above sea level
>Sandy Mountain in Walton County, 260 feet above sea level
>Iron Mountain in Polk County, 295 feet above sea level
>Sugarloaf Mountain in Lake County, 312 feet above sea level

>and, are you ready for this?

>Britton Hill, in Walton County, 345 feet above sea level, the lowest,
>highest point in the state in the United States.

   You forgot the landfills next to the turnpike in Broward, and down by Red
Road. :-)

   They gotta beat Mount Cornelia...

                                       Popeye
                           Privileged to be on Team 3.
                              The pit crew from hell.

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by mike gra » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 11:02:32

Quote:

> Britton Hill, in Walton County, 345 feet above sea level,

Got almost to the top once but the altitude sickness slowed me down, a
storm came in, and I only survived by eating the harnesses on my
crampons.

Quote:
> A state that manages to***up a simple thing like voting, even when aided
> by a computer, has to have a well developed sense of humor.

Yup. The Democrats fired all their goons and hired computer programers.
 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Rig » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 11:26:44

Lee wrote in response to a rather complex question about diving in Florida and
gave some excellent suggestions although making some errors:
(smip long answer)
Quote:
>By this time, you're close to Orlando and your 10 days of diving are pretty
>much up.  Hope you save enough energy for Disney.  BTW, there's more than
>Disney in the Orlando area.  Universal Studios and MGM also have major
>operations.  If you've got the energy, an evening at Church Street Station
>is also worth the effort.

Jeff and his crew at South Florida Diving Headquarters in Pompano run excellent
dive trips.  I second Leo Sands and his operation but they are my first choice
in Boynton and Leo currently has his boats at a marina just up the road while
the Sea Mist marina is in shambles due to construction.  The diving in the Keys
just isn't that great, in my opinion, to justify a lot of time there.

In Orlando, remember that MGM Studios is just another Disney Theme Park.  Sea
World, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure are
also in town and offer many different experiences worthy of your time.

Church Street Station has been completely shuttered for at least a year and is,
alas, no more.  Numerous schemes crop up about reopening it but they never go
anywhere.  Downtown Orlando is just a bunch of constantly changing clubs not
worth the time.  

Look for better entertainment options at CityWalk at Universal Orlando and
along International Drive and the new resturant row along Sand Lake Road just
west of I-Drive.  Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney's Westside is worth a
visit if you can spare the cash for the tickets.

I would look at all the possible air gateways and compare rental car prices and
airfares before setting a route.  Post again when you have those details for
more current info.

Warren

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Lee Bel » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 21:23:53

Popeye wrote

Quote:
> You forgot the landfills next to the turnpike in Broward, and down by Red
> Road. :-)

>  They gotta beat Mount Cornelia...

It's pretty certain that they do, but the state has yet to official
recognize them.  Maybe they think they'll disappear in a methane explosion
some day.  Locally, we tend to refer to them all by the same generic name .
. . Mount Trashmore.

Lee

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Lee Bel » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 21:29:03

Rig2 wrote

Quote:
> Jeff and his crew at South Florida Diving Headquarters in Pompano run
excellent
> dive trips.  I second Leo Sands and his operation but they are my first
choice
> in Boynton and Leo currently has his boats at a marina just up the road
while
> the Sea Mist marina is in shambles due to construction.  The diving in the
Keys
> just isn't that great, in my opinion, to justify a lot of time there.

Glad you added a Pompano operator.  Generally I skip over Pompano simply
because the boats out of Port Everglades cover the area.

Quote:
> In Orlando, remember that MGM Studios is just another Disney Theme Park.
Sea
> World, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure
are
> also in town and offer many different experiences worthy of your time.

The Hulk is an awsome roller coaster and Fire and Ice/Dueling Dragons aren't
bad either.  Last time I was at Sea World, the Shark Encounter was closed.
I was very disappointed.  I've not been to Discovery Cove.  Tell me more.

Quote:
> Church Street Station has been completely shuttered for at least a year
and is,
> alas, no more.  Numerous schemes crop up about reopening it but they never
go
> anywhere.  Downtown Orlando is just a bunch of constantly changing clubs
not
> worth the time.

Now that's truly sad news.  I spent many a happy hour at Rosie OGradys and
the Cheyenne Social Club.
Quote:
> Look for better entertainment options at CityWalk at Universal Orlando and
> along International Drive and the new resturant row along Sand Lake Road
just
> west of I-Drive.  Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney's Westside is worth
a
> visit if you can spare the cash for the tickets.

> I would look at all the possible air gateways and compare rental car
prices and
> airfares before setting a route.  Post again when you have those details
for
> more current info.

> Warren

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Jim.Green.. » Wed, 18 Sep 2002 22:05:01


Quote:

>Florida has several mountains:

This is a joke, right? Several of these would not even pass the "200
foot col" rule.

-JimG

--

College of Computing                    unexecuted /dev/unix.  The only
Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA 30332         _exit you see is at 0x02004000.

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Charlie Hammo » Thu, 19 Sep 2002 00:03:12


Quote:


..
>> A state that manages to***up a simple thing like voting, even when aided
>> by a computer, has to have a well developed sense of humor.

>Yup. The Democrats fired all their goons and hired computer programers.

Much as I love to pick on Democrats, I have to point out that the
Republicans are not any better.

What's more, I think it was NOT the programers, but the same old goons.
It seems it is just as easy to mess up computer hardware as to mess up
pregnant chads.

BTW, Lee -- thanks for the info on FL's "highest" point.  It had been
my impression that there was one other state with a lower highest point.
Now I'm even more depressed.

Did you know that the highest points in Connecticut and Nevada are on the
SIDE of a hill?  Honest!

--
      Charlie Hammond -- Hewlett-Packard Company -- Pompano Beach  FL USA

      All opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily my employer's.

 
 
 

Best Dive Sites in Florida??

Post by Charlie Hammo » Thu, 19 Sep 2002 00:19:50


Quote:

>The Hulk [Universal's Islands of Adventure] is an awsome roller coaster...

As is Karaken at Sea World, Orlando.  These aren't the tallest, fastest,
longest, but they are awsome.

Bush Gardnes, Tampa, has a couple good ones too.

--
      Charlie Hammond -- Hewlett-Packard Company -- Pompano Beach  FL USA

      All opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily my employer's.