Key Largo (and NJ) recommendations

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F106A

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Location
NJ, GSP Exit 36 (24,000' from the Atlantic)
# of dives
500 - 999
Broad topic to be sure.
However...
Plans include heading down to Key Largo in the next few months after a two year absence. Looking for recommendations/comments for dive ops. Recollection has Conch Republic Divers and Quiescence among the best. Wondering about Ocean Divers and HMS Minnow (and all the others).
Also, NJ. I'm in the Atlantic City area and have gone out with Atlantic Divers and American Diving Supply (formerly ECDS). Been on their and others and my boats from Cape May to Brielle, just not recently. Any thoughts on ops and boats in that area are welcomed.
TIA
BTW, been away from ScubaBoard for a while also. What ever happened to fellow NJ diver RJP? Haven't seen any recent posts from him.
 

njdiverjoe

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Location
NJ
# of dives
200 - 499
For NJ charters, try the Gypsy Blood out of point pleasant.
 

Billy Northrup

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Location
Key Largo / Norcal
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Conch is good people. Horizon Divers gets on wrecks daily with double dips or tech.
 

drrich2

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At least in Key Largo you may find a variety of options; narrowing your preferences down may help. I enjoyed diving with Rainbow Reef Dive Center (only one there I dove with) years ago; it was a pretty big boat, and provided guide service (at times 2 guides so groups weren't too large) at no added charge.

I've seen people speak well of Quiescence in the past, mentioning smaller boats and fewer passengers, no free guide service but then not everybody wants that.

What I'm getting at, is do you prefer larger boats, or smaller '6-pack' type operators, and does guide service matter?

I've read several testimonials about the excellence of Conch Republic Divers on Scuba Board over the years. To maintain such a fine reputation is an accomplishment.

Richard.
 

dberry

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Philadelphia
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We had a great time with Quiescence last November (just a few weeks after the hurricane). The main downside is their location on the sound side of the key which adds 15-20min to the ride out to the reefs (compared to, for example, Rainbow Reef).
 

RyanT

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Maryland
# of dives
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I dove with Horizon Divers and Silent World a few weeks ago. Both operations ran good boats. In the shop, the Silent World folks seemed a little friendlier and more appreciative of our business.
 

caruso

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Recollection has Conch Republic Divers and Quiescence among the best.

I dive the Keys regularly. My "go-to" Op, who I'll be diving with next week, is Conch Republic Divers- and here's a few of the main reasons.

1- They provide excellent, personalized service, they're a small operation and it's truly first name basis, they know who you are and dealing with Brenda is like talking to a good friend.
2- They tend not to fill up, so you can often book last minute, they run a big and small boat so they have flexibility. If you've got a group of 4 divers you can generally pick your dive sites, they're happy to accommodate.
3- They're located a bit further south than the Key Largo Ops, gives them a wider range of what can be covered including the Eagle wreck, and it's a shorter ride.
4- I'm not saying to expect this but on a recent trip 2 of our divers weren't feeling so great and made a last minute decision to sit out a few dives- Brenda was more than accommodating and did not charge or even mention charging for the late cancellation. Try that with some other ops who won't budge on the full fee if it's less than a week out.
5- Not sure the what the deal is now, but many years ago it was hard to find a Dive Op to accept my Solo diving card but Conch Republic had no issue with it.
6- If you have an OW diver in your group who wants to do a deeper wreck you've got a much better chance of making it happen with Conch Republic Divers- they tend to be more flexible in this regard although you might need to pay for a DM in the water. Other Ops won't even consider it.
7- As discussed in an other thread, Conch will keep your gear for you while you dive with them. Leave the neoprene hanging on the rack they'll wheel it inside after it's dry and it will be waiting for you when you get back there for the next day's diving along with the rest of your gear that is safetly stored overnight.

I have also dived with Rainbow Reef and have nothing bad to say about them other than they run a lot of boats filled with a lot of divers of mixed skills and they truly define the word "cattle boats".I much prefer to dive off of boats with only a handful of divers rather than upwards of 20 or 30 sharing the same wreck or reef. It's just not the same experience.

The larger dive Ops tend to have more rigid schedules, with Conch they'll usually take you where you want to go if you're the first to book the dive trip for a particular day, regardless of how many divers you've got.
 
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