Trip Report Blue Heron Bridge/Open Waters Resort 9/3-9/6 2022

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schuylerclark

Contributor
Messages
72
Reaction score
97
Location
Atlanta
# of dives
50 - 99
Made the drive to BHB for a Labor Day weekend of diving with my life and diving buddy (aka my lovely wife). As a visiting diver, I thought I'd share my thoughts from a non-local perspective. As always, YMMV.

We stayed in the Open Waters Resort just on the east side of the bridge, which has direct access to the east bridge span without needing to go to the park. This is the primary reason to stay at this location - the service and rooms are nothing special, but you can enter the water directly from the property and they have a rinse station and drying racks set up for guest use. They were in the middle of rebuilding their dock while we were there, but had provided for an easy alternate access to the water. We met half a dozen other guests, and I'm pretty sure everyone staying there was there to dive. The convenience of suiting up in your hotel room and walking into the dive site cannot be overstated. We rented tanks and weights from Pura Vida, and stopped in Force-E's weekend tent sale - staff at both shops were very kind and friendly.

We dove high tide for three successive days (all in the afternoons), and spent our dives entirely under and around the east bridge. Currents can be significant outside of slack tides, and visibility noticeably worsened as the tides shifted outward. It seemed to me that the actual shift in current from inward to outward came roughly 10-20 minutes after official high tide, but I have no idea if that's typical or not. We found that starting our dive around 30 minutes before the listed high tide worked best for viz and currents, and that the group of divers from the park would tend to arrive under the bridge around 20 min before high tide and head back around 20 min after. I never experienced a current I couldn't swim against with fins, but it was taxing at max current. I concur with the general recommendation to dive within an hour either side of slack high tide. All three days, the water temps were generally in the mid 80s and viz ranged from 30-50'.

We are the sort to take our time and try to focus on the small critters, so our dives at BHB were very enjoyable, especially with the long dive times. Max depth was 21', and we consistently got 80-90 min dive times with AL80s. Instead of posting my mediocre photos, I'll refer anyone interested to the pics in the Blue Heron Bridge Trolls III thread, which are plentiful (much respect to Pipehorse!). We saw conch, crab, high hats, a large eagle ray, some small greyish rays, grunts, small snappers, starfish, flurries of sardines, many angelfish, four eyes, barracuda, parrotfish, moon jellyfish, sargent majors, lobster, a few wrecks, flounder, a frogfish(?), etc, etc, etc. The variety of sea life was plentiful and met every expectation. For those who enjoy the small critters, I highly recommend. Despite my best efforts, I could not spot an octopus or seahorse, though others diving that weekend did. We opted not to dive at night since the night high tides were in the small hours from 2-4 AM, though I understand the access from the hotel makes that possible as long as you don't set foot on land in the park.

We did need to be aware of folks fishing from the bridge, and a cutting tool was needed a couple times for line fragments around the bridge - it is the Intercoastal waterway in FL after all, and you can certainly find some trash to pick up if you look for it. That said, none of this detracted from our enjoyment of the dives. For newer divers like us, this is also an interesting dive that allowed us to practice our skills and have fun with less exposure to risk. (I'm confident we could handle a CESA from 21'.)

Overall, I would highly recommend for three reasons:

1. the abundance of smaller sea life
2. the ease of access - especially if staying at Open Waters
3. simpler shore diving (even for less experienced divers like us)
 
Appreciate the info. on the place to stay right nearby with convenient access. That's good to know. Glad you got to dive there; I've only been once, and it was a special place.

Richard.
 
Thanks for the review, I have been curious about Open Waters -- have seen mixed reviews online.

One question I wondered if you could describe more: in accessing the BHB area from Open Waters, do you end up having to swim through areas that are open to boat traffic?
 
This is a pic from Trip Advisor that is looking from the hotel patio towards the park. The east bridge span is the one in the foreground. We didn't see any boats passing under the east bridge or closer than about 100' on either side. The clearance is only about 5' from the water to the bridge, so I would think that deters most boaters. I did see two jet skis come through and a couple kayaks. So while there is a possibility of boats coming through, we didn't have any issues with them. People fishing were more of a concern, but from the shore it's only a 30-40 feet swim to get under the bridge.

I forgot to mention that a light for under the bridge is very useful - it can be a bit dim in the shade there.

image.jpeg
 
Overall, I would highly recommend

Thank you for writing up the great report !!
Not many SB reviews of Open Waters, so a few questions if I may.

* How much per night with all taxes & fees did you pay?

* Did you ever have difficulty parking at the hotel parking spaces

* Did the lobby/patio have coffee in the morning? Or was coffee in your room?

* Was there kitchen/refrig in your room, what was it like?

* If you brought a boat, could you moor at the hotel dock?

* Were any of the other guests long term stays like a month or 2?

* BHB does have incidents of theft, did the hotel have security cameras?

* Was the patio area locked/secured so you could leave gear out to dry?

* How was the WiFi at the hotel? Fast or slow?

Thank you again!!
 
* 3 nights was $628.72 taxes and all. You could get a far nicer hotel for the money - the access is the only reason I'd recommend it. It's an old-school FL roadside hotel, TBH. We brought our own towels and sheets, which was a good idea. No issues with bugs or cleanliness. Pool was clean.
* No difficulty parking, but the main road is divided traffic and you'll likely have to do some u-turns coming and going.
* The lobby was closed for renovations when we were there. There were no staff on hand other than one of the owners who was busy with building the new dock.
* There's a basic kitchen in the room - stove, oven, microwave, fridge, dishes for 2-4, pots to cook with. I think there was a coffee maker in the cabinet, but I don't drink coffee so I honestly don't recall. We cooked our own breakfast and lunch most days and ate out for dinners (not impressed with the nearby restaurants we tried).
* The new dock was under construction, so I'm not sure if mooring would be possible or allowed.
* It didn't seem that anyone was staying longer than a few days.
* There were a few cameras, but the entire property is gated and we had a gate key as well as our room key (physical keys). We felt our gear was reasonably secure left out to dry during the day, but we thought it best to bring it in the room at night. With the other guests all being divers, and no one else on the property, I wasn't concerned for theft really.
* Wifi was sufficient for streaming movies on the FireTV (36" maybe?) at least - I don't think I connected my phone or laptop to it, so I couldn't say beyond that.

My understanding is that they're working on improving the place as they can. It's cared for and cleaned, felt safe and everything was sufficient, but it's not a fancy modern hotel. For us, the value was being able to access the water directly and without having to get to the park hours before high-tide just to find parking. Being Labor Day weekend, the park was typically full by 9AM and high tides were 2PM-4PM, which would have tied up our whole day every day. As it was, we could keep our own schedule and just go dive with minimal hauling of gear, other than to get tanks filled just down the block.
 
* 3 nights was $628.72 taxes and all. You could get a far nicer hotel for the money - the access is the only reason I'd recommend it. It's an old-school FL roadside hotel, TBH. We brought our own towels and sheets, which was a good idea. No issues with bugs or cleanliness. Pool was clean.
* No difficulty parking, but the main road is divided traffic and you'll likely have to do some u-turns coming and going.
* The lobby was closed for renovations when we were there. There were no staff on hand other than one of the owners who was busy with building the new dock.
* There's a basic kitchen in the room - stove, oven, microwave, fridge, dishes for 2-4, pots to cook with. I think there was a coffee maker in the cabinet, but I don't drink coffee so I honestly don't recall. We cooked our own breakfast and lunch most days and ate out for dinners (not impressed with the nearby restaurants we tried).
* The new dock was under construction, so I'm not sure if mooring would be possible or allowed.
* It didn't seem that anyone was staying longer than a few days.
* There were a few cameras, but the entire property is gated and we had a gate key as well as our room key (physical keys). We felt our gear was reasonably secure left out to dry during the day, but we thought it best to bring it in the room at night. With the other guests all being divers, and no one else on the property, I wasn't concerned for theft really.
* Wifi was sufficient for streaming movies on the FireTV (36" maybe?) at least - I don't think I connected my phone or laptop to it, so I couldn't say beyond that.

My understanding is that they're working on improving the place as they can. It's cared for and cleaned, felt safe and everything was sufficient, but it's not a fancy modern hotel. For us, the value was being able to access the water directly and without having to get to the park hours before high-tide just to find parking. Being Labor Day weekend, the park was typically full by 9AM and high tides were 2PM-4PM, which would have tied up our whole day every day. As it was, we could keep our own schedule and just go dive with minimal hauling of gear, other than to get tanks filled just down the block.
Pet policy?
Didnt see yay or nay on their site
tia
 
Has anyone visited Open Waters Resort in the last few months? What kind of condition is it in now? Can you still swim out from there, along the bridge to Phil Foster Park? If so, how long before slack high tide should you allow?
🐸
 
Has anyone visited Open Waters Resort in the last few months? What kind of condition is it in now? Can you still swim out from there, along the bridge to Phil Foster Park? If so, how long before slack high tide should you allow?
🐸
Their Google listing shows them as permanently closed and the former website is no longer up. Maybe make a call to Force-E or Pura Vida to see what’s up?
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/
https://xf2.scubaboard.com/community/forums/cave-diving.45/

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