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Question about finding a Keys dive operation

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Erwin Poliakoff, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    142
    I am thinking about a trip to Key Largo or Marathon sometime. I enjoyed my previous trip to Key Largo, but was surprised to learn that dive operations in that area typically did not hold on to your dive gear if you are doing multiple days of diving. Also, I found that most of the dive shops in that area do not have dive guides go along with the divers. Can anyone give recommendations of dive shops that offer these services? Finally, I am not set on Key Largo or Marathon. If there are other areas in the keys that are better than Key Largo or Marathon, I would be willing to consider them, too. Thanks in advance.

    -Erwin
     
  2. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    7,115
    4,180
    I dunno about shops holding onto your gear as I've never asked. My experience with guides is the exact opposite. Most shops I've used in they keys give you a divemaster for free. I know Rainbow Reef definitely does that. Rainbow Reef recently bought one or more other operations in their area - I'm sure someone will chime in with the names. That means there's plenty of boats in KL that are operating the same way. The only real complaints I had about RR is that the boats are often full to capacity and they enforce a 1h maximum dive time - or they did each time I've dove with them. It has been over a year now, so they might have changed.

    I've been to both Key Largo and Marathon. It's a toss up to say I prefer one over the other. The sites closer to Key Largo tended to have more divers on them as it's a more popular dive destination. There are also more sites in Key Largo. That said, the sites in marathon were every bit as good as what you get in Largo. They keys are so close together that it's no big deal to get on a boat in one key and dive a site that's closer to another. You'll get to see great stuff diving from either location.

    Captain Hook's in Marathon also provides a free guide in the water if you end up in marathon. Just as above, I didn't ask them about holding onto my gear. My wife and I spent a week diving with these guys while on our honeymoon in 2016. The boats were not full when I was there (late June).

    My preference is currently Marathon over Key Largo, but it's a close comparison between the two.

    Don't forget to tip the guides!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  3. -JD-

    -JD- Eclecticist ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Greater Philadelphia, PA
    1,059
    737
    We were, unfortunately, blown out on our March trip to KL, so I don't have a true trip report. But our selection criteria was a smaller op that included a DM on the trip.

    @Key Largo Dive Center was our choice. You'd have to call them re: valleting and storing gear, but I will say that their communication was excellent, from getting paperwork done pre-trip, to calling ME every day to report conditions and discuss options. And no quibbling when I decided to thumb it when it was expected to be barely inside their, but outside our newbie, limits.

    We will be back and they will be my choice again.
     
  4. sportxlh

    sportxlh Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
    2,599
    1,374
    For the KL area: Conch Republic Divers stores scuba gear but doesn't have free guides.

    Rainbow Reef has guides but no storage

    I think Quescence will store gear, but doesn't have free guides
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  5. Capt Gary

    Capt Gary Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: Tavernier, Florida Keys
    1,242
    239
    Conch Republic Divers has rinse bins so you can rinse your gear off after the dive and you can hang it up on our roller racks that we put inside at night do you don’t have to take it with you.

    We also have guides available for hire. They are professionals usually instructors. Give us a call with any other questions.

    Good Diving,
    Capt Gary
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  6. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    142
    Thanks for all of the helpful replies. They are much appreciated. I called Rainbow Reef Divers earlier today, and they told me that they are able to store the gear. Perhaps that is a new development.
    - Erwin
     
  7. caruso

    caruso Banned

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Long Island, NY
    1,662
    1,216
    Having dived with both operators on this thread I can tell you that you'll probably find Conch Republic Divers to be more convenient for your needs They're a smaller operation, they run only 2 boats and therefore you and your gear aren't all mixed together with perhaps 100 divers spread out over at least a half a dozen boats. Put your wet gear on their racks after you rinse it and it will be ready and waiting for you in the morning and the rest of your gear will be safely stowed inside their shop.

    See you in 2 weeks Conch Republic Divers!
     
    Coral-Reefer and Erwin Poliakoff like this.
  8. CajunDiva

    CajunDiva Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Louisiana
    2,486
    1,548
    Yes...Rainbow Reef Dive Center recently acquired Ocean Divers. I think that's where the gear storage comes in. I can HIGHLY recommend Rainbow Reef. We've been diving with them for many years and have not been disappointed yet!
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.

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