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Islamorada Key, Florida
RobMorris - 3/16/2009 9:52 PM
Category: General
Replies: 9

Greetings, I will be going to Islamorada to finish PADI AOW training in June. Anybody dive the area? What should I look for after certification?
seafox - 3/17/2009 11:17 AM

Hi Rob, I have been diving this area for many years and I am quite familiar with the dive shops and the sites. A lot depends on the weather, as well as your level and limitions.

If you have not made diving arrangements so far, I would highly recommend you check out:

Capt Gary who is owner is by far one the best operators in the keys. He is located nearby in Tavernier. He has 2 boats, right outside his shop which is very convenient, and experterly knows the keys. His operation is safe, friendly and run very professionnaly.

Check him out, you wont be disapointed!

Good luck, safe diving and have fun!!!!!!!!



RobMorris - 3/17/2009 3:59 PM
Thanks, Seafox. Conch Republic is the only dive shop I have not contacted. I will do so today as a result of your recommendation.
Rob Morris

NitroxNick - 3/17/2009 5:15 PM
I have also dove with Conch Republic, and the other dive place across the street from them, I forget their name. Both were very good.
tjbrowndiver - 3/17/2009 10:02 PM
I use Ocean Divers in Key Largo. I have not tried the shop the others recommend though but I will give them a try next time I am there; I like to stay in Isle Maralda because it is much more fun at night there than Key Largo and you don’t have to drive back after going out. It is about a 20-25 minute ride from Isle Maralda to Ocean Divers in the morning and you can do two boat trips in one day with them. The restaurant next door is inexpensive and the food is awsome so it would be worth a trip to check them out just so that you can eat there. The Barametric Chamber scool that the USN sends techs to get trained at is right next door as well. Here is there web site if the other recommendation doen’t work out; they have two great built in the yard as dive boats and not modified sport fish boats. 
RobMorris - 3/18/2009 7:00 AM
Thanks for the info. Love the photo of you and your dive buddy. She PADI certified? hehehe
RonCooley - 3/19/2009 12:48 AM
It’s a great area to dive, many good operators & mostly easy dives within 20 minutes of shore. Conch republic is good, as is Rainbow Reef. These two have the best boats I’ve been on in the area. It’s a Dive & Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive center are also nice operations but run on large pontoon boats that are not fun if the weather turns rough. I’ve dove with all 4 & would use each again. Rainbow Reef is probably the largest operation in the area based on the number of classes they teach. (Rainbow Reef has lots of instructors that live on tips, so the teachers bend over backwards to make classes work for their students.)

If I was to be back where I was getting a AOW certification all over again, Rainbow Reef would be my first choice, Conch Republic my second choice, Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Center #3, & It’s a Dive #4. Each of these is a good choice for AOW. 

Conch Republic is one of the few operators running lobstering trips if lobster season is open while you are there. It’s a fun trip.

Almost the entire area is closed to spear-fishing so don’t bother packing a speargun.
RobMorris - 3/19/2009 6:58 AM
Good information, Ron. Thank you.
MemphisFan89 - 3/19/2009 7:57 AM
From NitroxNick: I have also dove with Conch Republic, and the other dive place across the street from them, I forget their name. Both were very good.

If you are referring to Tavenier Dive Shop, they have been closed for a while. Flakeys (Florida Keys Dive Shop) is also right across the street, and they are great also.
MemphisFan89 - 3/19/2009 7:59 AM
Also, Horizon Dive Center in Key Largo is great. Have been on many trips with them, and always had a good experience.