Jupiter Dive Center / Labor Day 2021 Report

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Compressor

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I am wrapping up a trip to Jupiter, and linked up with Jupiter Dive Center, at the recommendation of others here on this board. I completed four trips (8 dives) from September 4-5. Prices are reasonable. There are two boats, and my boats were all full, with 11-12 divers each trip. JDC also has a dive shop on site. Nitrox analysis is done in front of you, but by store staff. You can see the analyzer if you'd like.

The operation is pretty slick - you book online, and can add on things there (like nitrox, steel tanks, etc). Nitrox is optional on most dives, but you should absolutely be using nitrox. Air divers are time limited to 25 minutes. Nitrox is limited to 45 minutes or 800-1000 PSI. I ended dives due to gas limits on two of the 8 dives, one likely due to depth and one due to the ass kicking current and trying to keep up with a turtle. Dive nitrox.

I wore a lycra top with a 1mm chest panel and swim trunks for all dives. Others had said that everyone dives wetsuit, but I'd say that was overblown. Lots of wetsuits, for sure, but probably equal in numbers to folks wearing rash guards and trunks. It was totally fine for all of my dives, except for the final dive, when we really hit a thermocline and experienced a drop from 83 to 74 degrees. Brrr.

When I was here, currents were unpredictable. We dove the MD-111 wreck three times and had no current, a very strong northerly current and a strong southerly current. Wild.

I did see lots of divers dragging equipment across the reefs, whacking into wrecks, etc. I watched one photographer set his rig on the reef and try to pet a grouper.

Pros:

  • Efficient booking system
  • Snacks (cookies, pretzels, soda, water) on board and no-additional charge
  • Good crews with strong pre-dive briefs
  • I thought the reefs were excellent, not only in terms of their fauna, but also in terms of interesting architecture. Lots of nooks, caves and crannies to peer into.
  • This may be a con to come, and a pro to others (a little of both to me), but there's zero emphasis on buddying up on dives. I surfaced alone on 4 out of 8 dives, including the night dive.
  • Night dives are two tanks.
Cons:
  • No COVID precautions, if that is important to you. No one was prohibited from masking, but no one worte a mask.
  • Repetitive dive sites. We dove the MG-111 three times over the course of 8 drops. This, I hope, is because of the grouper aggregation that happens to love that site. It wasn't terrible - it's not a huge wreck, but it's pretty sublime to chill with the groupers.
  • This may be a con to come, and a pro to others (a little of both to me), but there's zero emphasis on buddying up on dives. I surfaced alone on 4 out of 8 dives, including the night dive.

September 4, 2021, morning dive

Dive 1: Wreck Treck: Solid dive across three wrecks of varying size and condition. The third wreck is quite nice, with a small swim through and spots for fauna to hide. Nice to have a guide, as you swim across two open expanses between the wrecks; it would be easy to miss one or all.

Dive 2: Tunnels: I thought this trip was divine. Really nice reef with a mild current, and several swim throughs made for a compelling time. Spotted two very large nurse sharks.

September 4, 2021, night dive

1st dive: MD-111: Dip one on MG-111. Twilight dive. This was the best of the three MG-111 dips. Good Grouper congregations, light current. Saw a grouper with a big weight attached to his gill in the wreck, but couldn’t get in to see about cutting it loose.

2nd dive: Scarface: We were surprised by the direction of the current, expecting a northerly current and finding a southerly current. I swam with an air diver until he went up at 25 minutes and was alone, on the bottom, in the dark, for another 20 minutes. That was pretty intense, but also pretty incredible. Lots of crab and lobster, and I found a turtle buddy under a rock who came out to swim with me for 5-10 minutes, an arm’s length away. Solid current, and ascending in open water alone in the dark was pretty exciting.

September 5, 2021 morning dive

1st dive: MG-111: Second dip on MG-111. Nothing much to report. Grouper were chillin’. Strong northerly current.

2nd dive: Lighthouse: Mostly a snoozer in terms of what we ran into, but we saw a rock fish, some lobster and some big ol’ hermits, and a moray. A lazy, pleasant dive, but not particularly memorable. My dive buddy was happy to have left her giant camera rig on deck.

September 5, 2021 afternoon dive

1st dive: MD-111: My third dip on MG-111. This time we dropped at the southern edge, expecting a northerly current, but were surprised by a southerly current. We struggled to get to the wreck and ascended to the boat to drop again on the north side of the wreck. Lots of great grouper action, if that's your thing. I let the mob go off to the south and chilled with the groupers at the pillars. Tried to cut a fishing weight off of one, but he was on to me and I couldn't catch up.

2nd dive: Bonnie's: The dive brief was honest: we're gonna drop down and see which way we go. We ended up going North and were hammered by both a thermocline (from 88 to 74) and an ambitious current from east to west, to the point where I was swimming perpendicular to the reef and still heading parallel. Wild. I really loved this reef - great craggy architecture with lots of spots for critters to hide. Spotted a nurse shark, a rock fish, a couple lion fish and chilled with a turtle for a bit. The thermocline was maybe 10 feet off the bottom, which made visibility a little wonky.

edited to correct the MG-111 name that I couldn't get right after diving it three times in two days...

Thank you for your nice report. I enjoyed reading it.
 

edoralive

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Adding a few more details that I waited too long to add in to the original post:

Max depth for the weekend was 93ft/28m on the Wreck Treck. Shallowest bottom was 65'/20m on MG-111.
Water temps, which I'm told can be totally unpredictable for Jupiter especially this time of year, were between 86F/30C and 80F/27C, with the exception of the thermocline dive, where it dipped to 74F/23C.

I called visibility from 30-50ft/9-15m depending on the dive, but I'm terrible at judging visibility.

Also: the area has lots of great restaurants, and was in general a peaceful place. Bonine plentiful in the local drug stores. I flew in to FLL and drove the hour up, and that worked pretty well.
 

CosbySweater

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Adding a few more details that I waited too long to add in to the original post:

Max depth for the weekend was 93ft/28m on the Wreck Treck. Shallowest bottom was 65'/20m on MG-111.
Water temps, which I'm told can be totally unpredictable for Jupiter especially this time of year, were between 86F/30C and 80F/27C, with the exception of the thermocline dive, where it dipped to 74F/23C.

I called visibility from 30-50ft/9-15m depending on the dive, but I'm terrible at judging visibility.

Also: the area has lots of great restaurants, and was in general a peaceful place. Bonine plentiful in the local drug stores. I flew in to FLL and drove the hour up, and that worked pretty well.

Hope to see you back down here soon!
 

Divin'Papaw

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@edoralive Next trip down add some dives in Palm Beach & Boynton Beach, possibly even Pompano Beach & Ft Lauderdale, to get a full taste of what SEFL has to offer.
 

edoralive

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Hope to see you back down here soon!

Hope so, too! Thanks!

@edoralive Next trip down add some dives in Palm Beach & Boynton Beach, possibly even Pompano Beach & Ft Lauderdale, to get a full taste of what SEFL has to offer.

Are the different areas of SEFL pretty different dive-wise? I'd love to go back to the area again soon, for sure.
 

Divin'Papaw

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Are the different areas of SEFL pretty different dive-wise? I'd love to go back to the area again soon, for sure.

In my opinion, yes, each area is unique in its own way.
 

Johnoly

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..Are the different areas of SEFL pretty different dive-wise? ....
I agree with @JimBlay . Each of the SE Florida Inlets hosts different types of diving and each has it's own outstanding dive sites.

It really comes down to "What do you want to see? ". If it's pretty colorful seafans and and alot of smaller colorful fish, then the further south you go is where you'll find it. But if you want huge animals, sharks, crazy currents and aggressive dives then Jupiter is the spot. Alot of people stay in hotels between West Palm & Jupiter and dive out of both inlets and that is like a full buffet and then the Blue Heron Bridge dive thrown in for dessert.

But I love diving Pompano, Key Largo, Boynton and all the others because every place has different reef structures and fish. For your next visit, stay a few day's longer and pick a hotel near Juno or North Palm Beach which is in the middle, and then have a dive buffet at both WPB & Jupiter.
 

Divin'Papaw

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I agree with @JimBlay . Each of the SE Florida Inlets hosts different types of diving and each has it's own outstanding dive sites.

It really comes down to "What do you want to see? ". If it's pretty colorful seafans and and alot of smaller colorful fish, then the further south you go is where you'll find it. But if you want huge animals, sharks, crazy currents and aggressive dives then Jupiter is the spot. Alot of people stay in hotels between West Palm & Jupiter and dive out of both inlets and that is like a full buffet and then the Blue Heron Bridge dive thrown in for dessert.

But I love diving Pompano, Key Largo, Boynton and all the others because every place has different reef structures and fish. For your next visit, stay a few day's longer and pick a hotel near Juno or North Palm Beach which is in the middle, and then have a dive buffet at both WPB & Jupiter.

That is exactly what I do on average one weekend a month. I stay in Palm Beach Gardens typically, or close to it. I typically dive Palm Beach or Boynton one day and Jupiter the other day. If it's a 3-day weekend I like to hit Palm Beach, Jupiter, and either BHB or Boynton. As @Johnoly mentioned, each inlet offers something different.

If you want moored-in wrecks, go down to Pompano or Ft Lauderdale for a day or two. LOTS of nice artificial reefs (wrecks) in that area with typically calmer currents.
 

edoralive

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I agree with @JimBlay

For your next visit, stay a few day's longer and pick a hotel near Juno or North Palm Beach which is in the middle, and then have a dive buffet at both WPB & Jupiter.

Right on. I stayed in Juno this time. Usually I stick with one operator for the whole trip, but if I can swing more time I’ll definitely broaden my horizons. Thanks!

If you want moored-in wrecks, go down to Pompano or Ft Lauderdale for a day or two. LOTS of nice artificial reefs (wrecks) in that area with typically calmer currents.

Right on. Before this trip I would have said wrecks are my jam. I still would, but really dug the craggy reefs in Jupiter.

Next trip will be epic!
 
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