PDA

View Full Version : What to spend a week in FL?



ChrisA
05-08-2008, 15:40
I see some questions here about "what's the best dive operation in XX location?" but I have a wider, more open question

If I were to fly out to Florida from So California and wanted to spend a week diving there where is the best place in terms of "bang per buck". The deal is that my wiife and kids will all be in summer school but I have some time off. They don't dive so I have some time to kill. My diving style here is that I simply show up at a beach near my house and most of the time find others divers I know and dive with them. In FL I doubt I'd bump into anyone I know and I think most of the diving involves boats. I've not seen anything in Florida so I go it will all be new to me. Wrecks and reefs are both good

So I'm open to suggestions. I'm flying out of LAX. Which FL airport do I go to and then what to do after the plan lands? Again "bang per buck" is the criteria

My experiance level? I'm comfortable diving anying within the rec limits, low vis, night, whatever, got about a half dozen c-cards (no tech or profesional yet). I dive once or twice a week year round maybe 350 total dives.

spatman
05-08-2008, 15:48
we went to the keys last year, and there are more than enough dive spots to keep you busy for way more than a week. a lot of people also recommend the crystal springs area for the manatees, but i don't honestly know if that's seasonal...

CompuDude
05-08-2008, 15:52
Mantatees are seasonal; I have a friend who went just recently and gave a report to our dive club. Can't recall the season, but I seem to recall it was relatively cold.

If I was heading to Florida, I'd certainly want to check out the Spiegel Grove and perhaps the Oriskany, but I don't know the geography well enough to know if those two things usually happen on the same trip. Florida is a fairly long state...

Your trip sounds fun. I've considered doing something like this, too... see how much diving I can get in on a shoestring vacation.

Murloc
05-08-2008, 16:27
Florida is a long state, 500 miles to drive from Jacksonville to Key West...the good thing though is that almost everywhere you go on both coasts there are good dives to be found

major airports are gonna be Orlando, Tampa, Miami with others like Jax and such also receiving direct flights....hotels run about the same wherever you go but the high tourists spots such as Orlando do run higher...look for deals though as the more hotels in an area mean higher vacancy and some will lower their rates to fill a bed

one thought to consider is although FL is long, it has two coasts which are not too far apart...Ft Lauderdale to Naples is less then a 2 hour drive for example....so it's possible to stay on one coast for the dives there in one day and drive to another coast for diving and back to original point in another day

there are way too many good dive charters all over the state to actually pick "the best" and the same holds true as to the actual locations....Keys are good, Venice, Lauderdale and for fresh you have Gennie Springs, Crystal River, etc.....but Key Largo is probably a good place to start looking as it's almost exactly between Lauderdale and Key West and you couldn't dive all the spots around there in a week if you tried

I regret everyday I take a breath that I moved from FL

scubasamurai
05-08-2008, 20:11
biggest bang, fly into fort lauderdale through spirit airlines. do your diving in the key largo area. your hitting peak season so prices and crowds will be high. my advice do a dive card. buy like 6 to 10 dives through ocean divers and it cost 60-65 a for a two tank trip, as their regular prices are about 85 a two tank dive. stay away from the west coast tampa down to myers , nothing really to see and to get deep it takes at least an hour. if your into something fun, go to venice and try the shark tooth dive and you get some great teeth to take home

CompuDude
05-08-2008, 20:34
biggest bang, fly into fort lauderdale through spirit airlines. do your diving in the key largo area. your hitting peak season so prices and crowds will be high. my advice do a dive card. buy like 6 to 10 dives through ocean divers and it cost 60-65 a for a two tank trip, as their regular prices are about 85 a two tank dive. stay away from the west coast tampa down to myers , nothing really to see and to get deep it takes at least an hour. if your into something fun, go to venice and try the shark tooth dive and you get some great teeth to take home

Two tanks? Seriously?

Is that a morning dive? Can you add an afternoon dive(s)?

If I can't get 3-4 dives per day in, I'm staying home.

Splitlip
05-08-2008, 20:44
Palm Beach (Boynton to Jupiter) a 2 tank trip will run about $60. A 3 tank trip atJupiter Dive Center is $85.00 with lunch.
Jupiter Dive Center, Scuba diving lessons at a PADI 5 Star facility, daily scuba diving trips in Jupiter, Florida. (http://www.jupiterdivecenter.com)

CompuDude
05-08-2008, 21:06
Palm Beach (Boynton to Jupiter) a 2 tank trip will run about $60. A 3 tank trip atJupiter Dive Center is $85.00 with lunch.
Jupiter Dive Center, Scuba diving lessons at a PADI 5 Star facility, daily scuba diving trips in Jupiter, Florida. (http://www.jupiterdivecenter.com)

a) how's the diving?

b) how about 4 tanks?

fireflock
05-08-2008, 21:10
You can do 4 tanks a day in the Keys, as long as there are enough divers to keep the boats running.

Splitlip
05-08-2008, 22:26
Palm Beach (Boynton to Jupiter) a 2 tank trip will run about $60. A 3 tank trip atJupiter Dive Center is $85.00 with lunch.
Jupiter Dive Center, Scuba diving lessons at a PADI 5 Star facility, daily scuba diving trips in Jupiter, Florida. (http://www.jupiterdivecenter.com)

a) how's the diving?

b) how about 4 tanks?

Compudude, Jupiter Hole in the Wall is up your alley. I say that because I know from your posts you have quite a portfolio and you would enjoy this dive and it would be within your comfort level.
The dive is "advanced" and some would consider it technical. I have not done it since I was in my 20's. I will try and post some links. Lots of sharks and big fish.
If you go over to SB, Scubadiving.com or Spearboard in the East Cost florida section, you will find regulars that do it. If you go on those sites search, JDC, Jupiter, Hole in the wall or jupiter dive center.
Or call Gerry at Jupiter Dive Center. He is the owner and a super guy. He is a Jupiter diver and also GUE cerified. Sometimes the rules are a little different in this neck of the woods. The dive will not be DIR unless you bring a buddy or happen to hook up with one. I can fill you in on some of the local protocals if you ever plan on coming this way.

I truely think after 3 dives you'll be ready for the hot tub.

Old link I have, but I will find more
DEEP DIVE (http://www.sfdj.com/dive/deep.html)

(Frank Hammet was my open water instructor)

No Misses
05-09-2008, 09:01
I would recommend anywhere in the keys. The vis can be hit or miss once you get north of Miami (fresh water run off). Of course if you are used to California waters, anything over 5' of vis is good enough ;-) But, since you are traveling so far, I would recommend that you try to get some of that legendary 100' vis. If you like wrecks, the Keys have the Duane, Bibb, Spiegel Grove, Eagle, Thunderbolt, and many more. If lush reefs are your forte, they can accommodate your there also. A couple of shallow (<20 fsw) reef dives that should not be missed are Looe Key preserve, John Pennekamp Park, and Alligator Reef.

I dive the Ft. Lauderdale area every weekend. The water temp right now is 77 deg. The Gulf Stream runs close to the beach. If you go north of Jupiter (Palm Beach County) the Gulf Stream is further offshore, so the water temps in the 60-130 fsw range will be lower.

American Dream II – 954-577-0338 - 46’ Newton dive boat – Capacity 24 divers – My personal observations are that they are a professional operation with friendly crew. They cater to a lot of dive instructors with OW & AOW students, so their average dive trip consists of a wreck in ~60 fsw followed by a drift dive in 30-45 fsw. If arranged in advance, they can drop you on more advanced dive sites.

In the summer the winds tend to be mild = calm seas. During the winter months (windy season), look for winds out of the south or west for calmest conditions. West winds tend to push the warm surface water out to sea and draw in cold upwellings. South winds are going “in line” with the Gulf Stream, so the waves tend to be low. Any wind from the north tends to make for rougher conditions.

mobeeno
05-10-2008, 10:34
Is it more expensive to dive Key Largo in Summer than Spring break? (Car rental, lodging ect.)

scubasamurai
05-11-2008, 16:07
biggest bang, fly into fort lauderdale through spirit airlines. do your diving in the key largo area. your hitting peak season so prices and crowds will be high. my advice do a dive card. buy like 6 to 10 dives through ocean divers and it cost 60-65 a for a two tank trip, as their regular prices are about 85 a two tank dive. stay away from the west coast tampa down to myers , nothing really to see and to get deep it takes at least an hour. if your into something fun, go to venice and try the shark tooth dive and you get some great teeth to take home

Two tanks? Seriously?

Is that a morning dive? Can you add an afternoon dive(s)?

If I can't get 3-4 dives per day in, I'm staying home.

seriously i bought a 6 trip ticket for 65 a trip ( 2tank dive ) each trip counted as a two tank dive. one morning (counted as a two tanker) and one afternoon ( another two tanker) the morning was wreck diving the SG or duane and followed by a reef dive. the afternoon dives were both reefs when i went. so for me it was pretty cheap ( i think) and even didn't use a trip and was told that it was good "forever" because of the package i bought, but double check that, if thats the case i would buy a bunch and save for a rainy day!!!
check it out ocean divers key largo. and when i went in april it wasn't crowded , except for the christ of the deep statue dive, and personally i saw it and wouldn't do it again.
hope this helps and yes i did 4 dives a day for a grand total of 130 for 4 dives two in the am two in the pm. the best part is there boat is right at the shop and hotel i stayed at and easy trips to the sites.

doczerothree
05-11-2008, 19:11
I see some questions here about "what's the best dive operation in XX location?" but I have a wider, more open question

If I were to fly out to Florida from So California and wanted to spend a week diving there where is the best place in terms of "bang per buck". The deal is that my wiife and kids will all be in summer school but I have some time off. They don't dive so I have some time to kill. My diving style here is that I simply show up at a beach near my house and most of the time find others divers I know and dive with them. In FL I doubt I'd bump into anyone I know and I think most of the diving involves boats. I've not seen anything in Florida so I go it will all be new to me. Wrecks and reefs are both good

So I'm open to suggestions. I'm flying out of LAX. Which FL airport do I go to and then what to do after the plan lands? Again "bang per buck" is the criteria

My experiance level? I'm comfortable diving anying within the rec limits, low vis, night, whatever, got about a half dozen c-cards (no tech or profesional yet). I dive once or twice a week year round maybe 350 total dives.


Quiescence Diving Services , Inc., One of Key Largo's Finest Diving Operations (http://www.keylargodiving.com/) check uot these guys. they run 2 six packs and are very personable:smiley20: they also have "dive and stay"
packages. Enjoy you dive vacation.

Grin
05-12-2008, 08:44
I think if I were flying to Fl for a week long diving vacation, I would do it right and fly into Key West. It's great place to vacation even if your not diving to begin with. There are dive operations out of Key West and you can also drive 20 miles up to Summerland Key where there is a super
pritene reef that everyone raves about. I have never dove that, but I hear good things about it. Loo Key or something like that?
Key Largo is the first KEy in the KEys and is defiantly well known for diving. But it seems a little too refined and tourist oriented for my taste there. I'd do the lower Keys (Key West). Summer time is the off season most of the time. Beware that Aug 6 th is opening day of lobster seson and it's mayhem and packed down there. After Sept 1st it's deader than hell in the Keys and unless it's a really active Tropical storm season it's beautiful there without the crowds then.
Avoid: Mini Lobster season, lobster season opening week(or two), and the 4 th of July is probably asking for big crowds also. other than those dates the Keys would be a great dive location in summer.

scubasamurai
05-12-2008, 16:02
just remember the lower keys (key west) has some very fast currents and limits the dive sites there. there are also not as many compared to key largo and the middle keys. along that area it may be "touristy" but there are more dive sites and wrecks to see in my eyes, granted some of the currents can be rough, but not as rough as key west area. all from experience.

CompuDude
05-12-2008, 20:25
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

How far are the Oriskany and Spiegel Grove from each other? Reasonable to hit both on vacation?

harb99
05-13-2008, 08:14
How far are the Oriskany and Spiegel Grove from each other? Reasonable to hit both on vacation?

Oriskany info - U.S.S. Oriskany,U.S.S. Oriskany dive,U.S.S. Oriskany diving,USA, Florida, Pensacola, Wannadive.net, The dive site atlas, maps, GPS location, photos of scubadiving sites. (http://www.wannadive.net/spot/North_America/USA/Florida/Pensacola/U.S.S._Oriskany/)

Spiegel Grove Info - Spiegel Grove,Spiegel Grove dive,Spiegel Grove diving,USA, Florida, Keys, Upper Keys, Wannadive.net, The dive site atlas, maps, GPS location, photos of scubadiving sites. (http://www.wannadive.net/spot/North_America/USA/Florida/Keys/Upper_Keys/Spiegel_Grove/)

700 miles from Pensacola to Key Largo - would be a busy trip

DarinMartell
05-13-2008, 10:07
This months Suba Diving Mag has a great write up on the keys, goes from Ket largo all the way to Key West and lists everything from wrecks & reefs, to some top side activities and charter ops.

Splitlip
05-13-2008, 11:00
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

How far are the Oriskany and Spiegel Grove from each other? Reasonable to hit both on vacation?

Don't know of anyplace personally where you can rent doubles, but I will check with the local GUE shop and let you know.

Otherwise the Spiegle and the "O" really could not be much further apart and still be in the same state. 11 or 12 hours if you drive.

CompuDude
05-13-2008, 13:09
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

How far are the Oriskany and Spiegel Grove from each other? Reasonable to hit both on vacation?

Don't know of anyplace personally where you can rent doubles, but I will check with the local GUE shop and let you know.

Otherwise the Spiegle and the "O" really could not be much further apart and still be in the same state. 11 or 12 hours if you drive.

Yikes, I guess that's out.

I'm fine with recreational limits. Although I'd still be happier if I can at least get a big steel tank. :)

ChrisA
05-19-2008, 19:37
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

I know some divers who do this:
It turns out you can just ship the gear (doubles, can lights, scouters...) out via UPS ahead of time. I think it is price competitive with the airline's excess bagage charges and you don't have to mess with hauling it. UPS ships door to door. Pelican cases take abuse and ship well.

That's not my plan. I'll travel light.

CompuDude
05-19-2008, 23:48
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

I know some divers who do this:
It turns out you can just ship the gear (doubles, can lights, scouters...) out via UPS ahead of time. I think it is price competitive with the airline's excess bagage charges and you don't have to mess with hauling it. UPS ships door to door. Pelican cases take abuse and ship well.

That's not my plan. I'll travel light.

Florida is supposed to be an inexpensive vacation for me. If I want to blow the kind of money needed to ship doubles across the country, I'll just go somewhere tropical.

huvrr
05-20-2008, 01:11
Last month in FL I was able in 6 days to rent a car in Orlando for less than $10 per day and dive from crystal river area springs, caves etc to FLL boats , shore, wreck, reefs. A trip to the keys would have been easy as well but it was spring break so the keys where a bit crowded and frankly i was having too much fun to go there.

ianr33
05-20-2008, 02:35
Looks interesting splitlip, thanks. The logistics of traveling with doubles and stages might make the hole dive tricky, unless it's all readily rented locally?

I know some divers who do this:
It turns out you can just ship the gear (doubles, can lights, scouters...) out via UPS ahead of time. I think it is price competitive with the airline's excess bagage charges and you don't have to mess with hauling it. UPS ships door to door. Pelican cases take abuse and ship well.

That's not my plan. I'll travel light.

Florida is supposed to be an inexpensive vacation for me. If I want to blow the kind of money needed to ship doubles across the country, I'll just go somewhere tropical.

Fillexpress rents doubles Fill Express -- Rentals of Top-Quality Dive Rite Sport & Technical Diving Equipment (http://www.fillexpress.com/rentals.shtml)

As do many shops in Cave Country (none of that nasty salty water either! )

CompuDude
05-20-2008, 02:51
Lots of shops in CA rent doubles, too. If you're lucky enough top be diving near one of them! (and need to rent doubles, that is...)

Flfiremedic
05-27-2008, 08:52
If you want to do beach dives, the Jettys at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach is a great place to go. For a local dive shop, call The Dive Locker...PM me for the number if you want.

Truered1
06-07-2008, 21:01
I dive regularly in the Ft. Lauderdale to West Palm area (1 - 4 times a month). Best dive boats I have found are the Diversity out of Boca Raton (561) 368-9952, Dixie Divers out of Hillsboro Buy scuba gear, scuba diving and everything underwater from www.dixiediver.com - (http://www.dixiedivers.com/) and the one we used the most, South Florida Dive Headquarters South Florida Diving Headquarters (http://www.southfloridadiving.com/). The dive masters and captains seem to care if you enjoy yourself and help you find what you are looking for. They are all very knowledgable and helpful if problems occur and can usually fix anything. The above go from $50 - $65 per 2 tank trip, reef and/or wreck. I have found West Palm the currents are too hard to work against and Ft. Lauderdale reefs aren't as nice. Pompano to Boca is the best I have found in this area. Any of the above locations and you can fly into FLL via Southwest for cheap fare.

If you prefer the keys, pricing will be a bit more depending if you stay in Key Largo or Isla Morada area's. The dives and reefs were great, I suggest Isla Morada, mile marker 79.5 the dive shop in front of Bud & Mary's. Great boat and group of people. The Eagle is amazing and the reefs were great. Down side, staying in the Keys can cost you. If you stay in the Ft. Lauderdale to Boca Area you can get a great deal on flight, rental car and hotel and save. You an also beach dive, grab yourself a reef map from one of the local area shops and get yourself a boat frequent dive card and gear package to save depending on what gear you a bring. And finally ENJOY.