I had my week in sunny Florida and did some diving in the Keys and as well as a bit farther north. I even hunted bug and visited the Duane. These are my reports on the good, the bad and wet. The trip started out in Boynton Beach up by Palm Beach and then moved on to Key Largo. Hopefully, this can give some useful impression of the area.
Boynton Beach is right near Palm Beach in Florida and is where the diving on this trip started. This area is basically a metropolitan center of technology industries and retirement communities. It is north of the start of the Keys by about 150 miles, but just offshore is the same Gulf Stream that nourishes the reefs off of the Keys. There are a lot of dive operations in this area.
The Florida Keys are a dry exposed series of coral reefs
and islands extending from the mainland, for perhaps 400 miles
to the Dry Tortugas. The highway stops before there, at Key West.
There is one, mostly two lane, road extending the length of the
Keys. Call them Keys or call them rocks, these are dry, desolate
islands. In a number of locations, like Key Largo or Islamadora,
there is room enough for something of a town and a marina. Until
you get to Key West, that's most of what there is and the local
businesses are pretty much devoted to the divers and fishers
that come to the large ocean playground there.
The largest and most developed of these Keys is Key Largo. Here is Pennicamp State Park. It is probably the best known of the Florida Keys dive destinations. It is the site of the well known Christ of the Reef statue. The area has very pretty diving for the beginning snorkeler as well as experienced scuba divers.
There are dive operations all along the length of the keys, including Key West and charters to the Dry Tortugas beyond. Recently, a large new wreck, the Adolphus Bush was put in place most of the way down the Keys, near Key West.
Key West. Now that's a change of pace. That is not just a small town like is common to the rest of the Keys. It's actually a big bar... er... city. There is an international airport there and a lot to do besides fishing and diving. There are miles of beaches for all kinds of water sports as well as just lying in the sun. It's obviously a tourist spot with lots to do as well as a great deal of historical stuff to see. It seems that everyone is trying to rent scooters to the tourists. That's ok. All things considered, that is probably the best and easiest way to enjoyably get around the city.
I think that this is quite appropriately written as a guide to Florida for a person who has never been there before, by a person who has only been there once. That limits it to what I saw, but maybe that's good though. It sometimes seems that so many people that dive there for years, forget what it was to dive there the first time. I just could not get a picture of the place in my mind from what I could read.
First though, I must thank all the people that suggested eating at Hobo's in Key Largo. It was one of the highlights of the trip.
Here is a collection of some dive operations I encountered
with their phone numbers or URL's. There should be enough
information in all these postings to help anyone planning to go
diving in Florida for the first time.
This list basically goes north to south.
Real good Florida Diving Website
Active Divers Assoc. Miami, Fl - 305 235 2430
Fort Pierce Has the big bugs. Here is a shop number: 954-922-8134
If you get up to New Smyrna Beach, contact Sea Dogs Dive Center,
904-424-1644. They'll talk to you you do what you want.
Big Bugs - 2 1/2 hours north of palm beach.
Frank's Dive Shop on Blue Heron in West Palm.
800-630-3441 - Boca Raton www.divecharters.com\getdown. David
South Florida Diving Headquarters, Pompano Beach and Boca Raton,
Capt. Mike or Capt. Jeff. www.diveguideint.com, (800)771-DIVE.
Loggerhead - Boynton Beach inlet. 561-588-8686
Boynton Beach - Just south of West Palm Beach, FL
Craig is the skipper. 34 foot boat. Spoke to Anna.
$42-2 tank They do not crowd the boat. They look for bugs in season
Splashdown Divers - 561-736-0712 - Boynton Beach - My favorite.
splashdowndivers.com - Captain Lynn
Dive Shop at Boynton Beach - 561-734-5566
Deep Obsession from Jim Abernethey's Scuba Adventures,
255 East 22nd Court Riviera Beach, FL 33404, 888-901-DIVE (3483),
Deeper and Little Deeper 561-734-5566 8:30 1:30 departures
Spoke to Jeff - fairly chauvenistic - no solo diving.
Rampage Dive Charters, www.therampage.com, (800)525-0876.
Riviera Beach - West Palm Beach **** 8, 12 $49 Bob
sounds good, drift with a guide, shop at dock /w licence and net
Atlantis Dive Center.
Sharkey's dive center in key largo
Scuba-Do - 305-451-3446 - Key Largo - Capt'n Stafford
Abyss pro diving (Marathon) www.adventure.com is good (lots of people recommended it)
It's a Dive - (305) 453-9881 in Key Largo. At Marriots.
They dive the Duane when requested and able to.
Was also mentioned as a good operation, but I think they were macho jerks.
Quiecence Diving - 305-451-2440 - Key Largo next to Marriots
Tavernier Dive Center - 1-800-787-9797 or 305-852-4007. Highly recommended.
http://www.scuba-do.com or 1-800-516-0110
Aqua Safari - David Ochs in Lantana. Phone is 561-734-8816.
Dive Locker in Lantana 561-547-3535 - Well recommended.
Dive-O-Mite Charters snorkle - (305)453-0043 Ken and 1-800-4 KEY FUN.
Out of the Best Western Hotel in mile marker 100.
Great White Divers - 1-305-744-0224 - Looe Key
firstname.lastname@example.org - www.greatwhitedivers.com
Small private dive operation.
Sea Dwellers came highly recommended.
Bay/Aquanatics 1-800-226-0415 is another good operation
Capitan Jeff was also mentioned a few times www.pennekamps.com/wreckdiver
Banny Thorne 305-743-7265 - Marathon
Dule Porpoise, keysdiver.com or keydiver.com
Underseas Inc (600-446-5663 at Big Pine Key
Abyss Pro Center & Hawk's Cay Resort near Duck Key (305-289-4433
Hiram at Capt Hi@aol.com - Looe Key
Bonsai Dive Center (305) 294-2921 at 1075 Duval St. Key West
Try old bridge (now 2 fishing piers) at Channel 5 Bridge (around mm 70, I think). About 15 feet, LOTS of current except for a few minutes at dead slack tide. You can get carried a long way out into Florida Bay or towards Cuba if you're not really careful. I've seen people working the undercuts and holes in seawalls on the bay side, too.
Back To Start