Advice for Summer Dive Vacation

Where should we go to dive?

  • West Palm/Jupiter Only

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Keys Only

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Split the time with more in West Palm

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    6

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

lancemajor

Registered
Messages
10
Reaction score
7
Location
Utah
# of dives
50 - 99
Scuba friends,

My wife and I are hoping to take a dive vacation to Florida this July - with COVID shutdowns, we have only been able to dive the lakes and quarries here in Utah for a year and haven't been to the ocean for close to two years now. We are planning to spend 10 days diving in Florida doing a combination of daytime and night dives to remedy that.

Our question is, should we split our time between the West Palm Beach/Jupiter area and the keys or just stick to one of the areas? We have around 60 dives with 25 in the Caymans, 25 in Cozumel, and 10 in Utah so we have some experience doing deep drift diving. We want to see healthy/colorful reef, lots of fish, and explore some wrecks (we loved the Kittiwake in Cayman and C53 in Cozumel). We haven't had the chance to see any sharks bigger than nurse sharks, so Jupiter is certainly appealing. If the diving and visibility is significantly better in the keys we would want to spend time down there though.

Any dive center recommendations? Our experience has been with smaller six pack boat operators and we definitely prefer that over the large cattle boats.
 

Scraps

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba instructor
Messages
749
Reaction score
1,847
Location
Florida
# of dives
200 - 499
All of the places you mention have plenty of great dives to fill all ten days of your trip.

It all depends on what you want to do and how much of your surface intervals you're willing to spend traveling to your next dive site.

If you want to minimize surface interval travel and feel like you're in a vacation spot, go with the Keys. If my priorities were clear water, reefs, and wrecks, I'd probably park in Key Largo and maybe take one day trip north and a one or two day trip down to Key West.

If you have a higher tolerance for windshield time, one idea that might be worth pursuing would be to do a more complete Florida sampler. Two days doing springs and caverns in North Florida, a couple days in Clearwater/St. Pete (great spearfishing, Circle of Heroes, sunken barges with lots of big fish), and maybe three days each in South Florida and the keys.

Whatever you decide, it should be a great vacation.

Best wishes,
 

Divin'Papaw

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
6,746
Reaction score
4,168
Location
Florida
# of dives
500 - 999
Are you comfortable drift diving or are moored dives a must? Palm Beach County diving is almost 100% drift diving. Key Largo is almost 100% moored diving. I assume you are since you mention Cozumel.

“We want to see healthy/colorful reef” ... If by ‘healthy reef’ you mean healthy, vibrant, living coral like you see in some Caribbean destinations you won’t find that here. Not in Palm Beach nor the keys. If you mean a healthy marine ecosystem including soft corals, sponges, limestone ledge structure, etc. that you’ll find it in both locations.

“lots of fish” ... you’ll find that here in spades. Both locations.

“and explore some wrecks” ... Key Largo is best for wrecks but there are some good ones in Palm Beach & Broward counties as well.
 

Lostdiver71

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
493
Reaction score
379
Location
Jupiter, Florida, United States
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
You also need to be flexible. Although conditions in July are usually excellent, one or both areas may not be dive-able due to a Hurricane, Tropical Storm or a Tropical Depression. Make sure to watch the Florida news stations in the week leading up to your trip as conditions can change with almost no warning. Also take the news reports with a grain of salt as they can be completely wrong, the dive shop that you are using might actually be better at predicting the local conditions than the weatherman.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,375
Reaction score
7,619
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
We want to see healthy/colorful reef, lots of fish, and explore some wrecks (we loved the Kittiwake in Cayman and C53 in Cozumel). We haven't had the chance to see any sharks bigger than nurse sharks, so Jupiter is certainly appealing. If the diving and visibility is significantly better in the keys we would want to spend time down there though.

3 Old trip reports for reference:
Key Largo with Rainbow Reef Dive Center 2013 - http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/fl...iving-key-largo-rainbow-reef-dive-center.html
Jupiter 2014 - http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/florida-diving/491927-jupiter-trip-report-9-7-14-9-11-14-a.html
Emerald Charters Trip Report 2017 - Trip Report - Emerald Dive Charters Trip Report

I recommend sticking to Key Largo for most of your trip. Here's my thinking...

1.) I really like Jupiter, but lush reef is not something I associate with it. It's also lower viz. than Cozumel, so a very different experience. I suggest reviewing some YouTube videos showing Jupiter diving footage to get an idea what it's like.
2.) July is well outside Jupiter's lemon shark aggregation, and if you're not doing shark feed dives, you might not see much big (I don't know what kind of luck non-feed operators are having mid. summer with lemon sightings these days).

If this were the typical American 7-day trip, I'd recommend making Jupiter a separate trip at a better time to see the lemon sharks. Shark feed dives are less seasonally dependent, but season still matters if there's something specific you want to see. I don't recommend the shark feed diving route at this time...get some time with lemon sharks (Jupiter) or sand tiger sharks (Morehead City, North Carolina) in non-feed situations before setting yourself up to meet a 10 foot tiger shark in close quarters. Also be aware shark feed diving is highly controversial and many divers won't do it; make up your own mind.

But...since you have 10 days...you might head up and try Jupiter a couple of days to see how you like it. While up there, try to get a dive in at Blue Heron Bridge - it's worthwhile, and unique.

When looking at Key Largo op.s, be mindful not all have free guide service included, and one well-known for that (Rainbow Reef Dive Center) has the larger boats. When I dove with them, they used 2 guides and split us into 2 groups, but that was way back in 2013.

I have not dove West Palm Beach.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/
https://xf2.scubaboard.com/community/forums/cave-diving.45/

Top Bottom