UPDATE: Trip completed. I didn’t map this out well...thought I wanted to try Disneyworld and the Manatees. We snorkeled with the Manatees at Crystal River Florida. A great trip. We stayed in the Days Inn and did the Snorkel Trip with the shop right behind them. A Very Professional organization. Some groups/people are trying to stop the interaction tours...completely stupid. Enforcing the current regulations and mandatory education/training for staff and visitors alike is the answer. Not renting boats to every tourist who visits Florida would do wonders for the Manatee population. They loved the interaction...the ones that didn’t want to interact laid on the bottom.
Dove with Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Center out of Key Largo. They helped us get scheduled with another boat when their boat engine had a catastrophic failure (a definate Plus on their part for customer service, ensuring we could dive). Saw some great sites. We weren’t impressed by the room for the rate or the shining personalities/practices of some of the staff (Instructors of all people). I got a very money oriented vibe with not a love for diving (it seemed like a chore to interact with the divers/customers. I didn’t think they lived up to the reviews in thos magazines.
My wife and I are going to hit Florida 03-07 JAN 09 while I am on leave from Afghanistan. I am looking for Dive Sites, boats, trips, shops, etc. We are planning on the Manatee dive already...now I need some more open water dive site/trip recommendations. POCs are greatly appreciated; however, I can work with basic "try this place/shop/boat trip" as well. Thanks.