If you are thinking about diving in the Keys, and are not sure where to set up shop, I would recommend Tavernier, and, more specifically Conch Republic Divers. I had not been to the Keys before, and didn't have the usual recommendations from my home dive shop (30 years old, but a victim of the economy, and now closed). Tavernier is a great location--you can get into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and some of the "southern" sites (too far from Key Largo). We dove 3 wrecks, and several reefs; the wrecks were all great, but the reefs have been overloved (huge populations of fish due to Sanctuary designation, but the coral seems bleached and covered in sand).
Now for the specifics of the shop: Fantastic staff, inside the shop and on the boat; Great dive briefings; Safe boats and drivers (Chris had us hooked up at our next site before I had my gear on the 2nd tank); Dive Masters like Jim that make sure you are ready to go, will be safe and have fun (and he's a hoot); They let you handle your own gear, but do a last minute check; Have ice water and a huge cooler for drinks; A marina with hot, private showers (I've never had that luxury before); Dive lines that make getting to a deep wreck in heavy current a snap (be sure you have gloves--there may be fire coral or fish hooks on the buoy lines); A great system for rinsing gear, getting it dry, and storing it safely for the next day; Great owners; Great location for getting on the ocean efficiently; and great retail choices for souveniers. You just won't regret a thing!!!
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