Trip Report Singer Island, vacation with some diving

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Jcp2

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This was a trip to accommodate all members of the family, with me being the only one diving.

First, about the diving. I went with Pura Vida Divers on three trips, two boat drift trips and one trip to the Blue Heron Bridge. To save packing space, I rented the BCD and regulators from the shop. The BCD was an Atomics BC1 with a SMB without a spool, and the regulators were from TUSA with a console with a SPG, compass, and puck computer. I brought my mask, snorkel, wetsuit, skin, computer, boots, fins, light, trilobite, shears, and spoil with dSMB. I ended up not using the wetsuit, using the skin for one trip, and diving in shorts and rash guard for the other two trips. Because I was diving solo, to make my spouse more comfortable, I hired a guide for all three trips.

The first trip was a boat drift dive to shallower reefs, Teardrop and Flower Gardens. I rented HP100 with the shop standard 34% nitrox. Both dives were about 55 minutes at 55 feet with lowest water temperature 83 degrees. Visibility was between 30-40 feet with a strong northward current. We were really flying and it was a lot of fun for me. Not a lot of opportunity to look for smaller hidden reef life, but turtles, schooling fish, a salp. Some divers were uncomfortable with the speed and sat out the second dive.

PVD was very orderly in getting two groups in on live drops and the staff very helpful and anticipated and solved problems very quickly. The boat safety and dive site briefings were done in very good detail, and pickup was organized with all divers understanding what to do because of the dive briefing. Both dives my guide and I were separated from the main guide carrying the ball and flag, so we shot our dSMB and did our safety stop and pickup separately. The surface interval was about an hour and there was cold filtered water, cans of pop/soda, and small bags of chips and crackers for those that wished to eat or drink.

My next trip was a dive at the Blue Heron Bridge with a PVD guide that was an underwater photographer. We explored the west side of the bridge for 70 minutes. Maximum depth was 15 feet at the edge of the boat channel with the majority of the dive being around 10 feet. Water temperature 85 degrees. I rented an HP100 with air, mostly for the weighting, not for the gas, as with the BC1, HP100, and skin/rash guard and shorts, I need no additional weight. Because my guide was a photographer, we moved really slowly and he was able to spot a lot of things that I would have completely missed. It was like being in an aquarium. I don’t remember everything, but my favorites were the crazy stone crab running around with a fish friend as well as the decorator urchins that chose to decorate themselves with a dead urchin shell. The guide timed the tide so we drifted with the incoming tide to the north of the bridge and drifted back with the outgoing tide, as visibility changed from 50 feet to 30 feet.

My last trip was another boat drift trip to Bath and Tennis, and then Teardrop again. HP100 with 34% nitrox, run times of 60 minutes, depth 50 feet and 60 feet, water temperature 86 degrees, surface conditions smoother, current much lighter. Visibility on first dive was 50-60 feet and 30-40 feet on second dive. The first group had a diver that had trouble descending and PVD picked her up again and gave her more weight and redropped her with her group to stay with her spouse, no muss, no fuss. This time, because of the gentler current, we were able to stay with the guide with the ball and were able to look for more hidden stuff. Eels, lobster, blennies, shrimp, more eels. And sleeping turtles. No dSMB needed as we stayed with the ball, pickup done very orderly.

I dove with PVD last year, again this time, and would dive with them again. If you rent equipment from them, you can pick it up from the shop an hour before the boat leaves. The dock is located a ten minute drive from the shop. The crew wants you to board and disembark with both hands free and they will bring your equipment on and off the boat. They have an analyzer on the boat and their shop mix is 34%. You are responsible for getting rented equipment back to the shop after the trip, rinse it off in a rinse tank outside to the left side of the shop building, and have a staff member sign it back in. The parking lot is not very big, but there is a parking lot across the street that I have used. If you are going to as BHB guided dive, the guide will have the rented tank in their car at the BHB. Both times I’ve done this I’ve walked to the BHB from the shop, about 3 blocks, so I can’t comment about parking.

I know there are several other highly recommended dive operations in the Palm Beach area, and I would like to dive out of Jupiter, but because this was a vacation with some diving, rather than a dive vacation, PVD was the most convenient in terms of accessibility, as we stayed on Singer Island and my family dropped me off at the shop on the BHB dive day, did their own thing, and then picked me up.
 
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Jcp2

Jcp2

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Now for the non diving part. My family enjoys being at the beach with options to do other things. I chose Singer Island because there are a lot of choices for the non diver, even compared to our next choice, Key Largo.

We have Marriott points so we stayed at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island. I can, and I have in the past walked to PVD if doing a BHB dive, leaving the car to the family.

Things we’ve done that are not diving related in the area. Lion Country Safari, a drive through safari park of the western edge of Palm Beach County. Flagler Museum. Worth Avenue window shopping. Outlet mall shopping. Big mall shopping. Movie theaters. Loggerhead Turtle rescue center. Kayaking at MacArthur State Park. Spa services at the resort.

Food and dining. In Florida, we always stop at a Publix to stock up on water, drinks, coffee, snacks, and breakfast food. We either get snacks or a light lunch, and then go out for dinner. I don’t know what the Marriott hotel restaurant is like as I’ve not dined there.

Places that we’ve eaten at that we’ve enjoyed (more extensive summary reviews can be found online). Cod and Capers. The Catch Seafood and Sushi. Cafe Boulud. Leftovers Cafe. Coolinary. Bahama Buck’s. Imoto. Buccan.

In summary, for visitors from the Midwest like us, diving in Palm Beach gives a lot of options for divers and non divers alike, if the non divers want to do more than beach/pool stuff. Pompano Beach, LBTS, and Fort Lauderdale would be very similar in scope. Key Largo is biased more towards diving. California would offer a similar scope of non diving options, but the flight for us is longer, there’s a time zone change, and I would want to bring my drysuit and undergarments. It’s still on my list, I just need to find a nice medium for the whole family.
 

Johnoly

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Great detailed report. Glad you enjoyed WPB !!
 

drrich2

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Really enjoyed your report. I've dove in Jupiter, which isn't that far away, but not West Palm Beach. I've been to Lion Country Safari; I'd add that Zoo Miami and Jungle Island (also in the Miami area) may be attractions of interest for some. We have a kid...

I was surprised to see an Atomics BC1 mentioned as a rental BCD. As I recall, those are quite expensive. How did you like it?

Richard.
 
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Jcp2

Jcp2

Literally virtually diving
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Really enjoyed your report. I've dove in Jupiter, which isn't that far away, but not West Palm Beach. I've been to Lion Country Safari; I'd add that Zoo Miami and Jungle Island (also in the Miami area) may be attractions of interest for some. We have a kid...

I was surprised to see an Atomics BC1 mentioned as a rental BCD. As I recall, those are quite expensive. How did you like it?

Richard.
I liked the ratchet tank strap once I figured out how it works. You pull it tight manually and then use the lever to ratchet it tighter like a ski boot or snowboard binding. I didn’t use the weight pockets this time but last time I did as I wore a 3 mm wetsuit. They were easy to remove and replace with a nice positive click to lock. There are a pair of trim pockets on the shoulders. The inflator is a pull dump and there is also a manual right shoulder and hip dump. It was nice having quick release and adjustable shoulder straps. I may have to add these to my own harness. I missed having a crotch strap as I dive a freedom plate at home, but the jacket didn’t seem to have any inherent buoyancy. It wasn’t very light on land, and the material shed water very quickly without getting water logged. The power inflator was easy to use.
Once I figured out the location of the hip dump (right side, not left), horizontal trim was easy to achieve and maintain. Waiting for pickup on the surface with it fully inflated was comfortable (this is where I used my snorkel, in light chop, just to keep water out of my mouth).
With this experience, after working on my buoyancy and trim for the past year in the quarry with a drysuit and BPW, I’ll have to admit that with proper weighting, for recreational divers like myself, there’s no real underwater performance difference between my BPW and this jacket style BC. I can see why some prefer one style versus another.
 

Divin'Papaw

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Great report!! Reports like this are what really help others in the future plan a trip. This is one of the special things about the ScubaBoard community!
 

Divin'Papaw

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Another fantastic location to visit that is rarely mentioned is Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. It is a free nature center ($5 requested donation per person) with free parking right on the A1A in Boca Raton. It has 4 large aquariums, each representing a different marine habitat ... mangroves, near short reef, deep reef and artificial reef/shipwreck. There is also a sea turtle hospital that typically has multiple patients that can be observed. It also has a butterfly garden and a mangrove boardwalk. Red Reef Park and Spanish River Park are just to the south and north. All of these are Boca Raton City Park facilities. This is just a fantastic area to visit! I was a volunteer aquarium guide and sea turtle rehab educator there for a couple of years when we lived in Boca Raton. It is a great place to take divers and non-divers alike. I've never taken anyone there who left disappointed!. It is a hidden gem!

I'm adding this to @Jcp2's dive report thread for future potential visitors to read about. It is about 45 minutes south of the Palm Beach area in far southern Palm Beach County. The Boca Raton area is just a beautiful place to visit. They have NUMEROUS fantastic city parks and a very nice downtown shopping/dining area in and around Mizner Park. The Force-E Boca Raton dive shop is just north of that area right on Highway 1/Federal.
 
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Jcp2

Jcp2

Literally virtually diving
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Really enjoyed your report. I've dove in Jupiter, which isn't that far away, but not West Palm Beach. I've been to Lion Country Safari; I'd add that Zoo Miami and Jungle Island (also in the Miami area) may be attractions of interest for some. We have a kid...

I was surprised to see an Atomics BC1 mentioned as a rental BCD. As I recall, those are quite expensive. How did you like it?

Richard.
It’s reports like yours that give me a template to write mine.
 

Redfoot

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Great report, thanks for sharing. I did similar combo last year, stayed on Singer and dove with Walkers for a long weekend solo trip. I really enjoyed it and am looking to go back in the fall for the goliath aggregation. Singer Island is really nice, and I thought the beach was beautiful. Good walking, and it appeared there was some decent snorkeling. Thanks again for taking the time to post.
 

Dan G

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Nice report. I stayed on Singer Island back in June for 4 nights and really enjoyed diving Blue Heron Bridge, Jupiter, and with PVD. To add one thing, I dive a BP/W and every op we used had weights that were sandbags rather than steel which can be threaded through a cam strap. 2lbs weights were practically non-existent. I don't use much, if any, weight and ended up putting weight in my bellows pocket (not ideal). Had I packed my weight pouches this would have been a non-issue issue, but I had never encountered this before and it just didn't occur to me to pack them. Seems like a local practice and I plan to pack my weight pouches from now on just in case.
 
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