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Florida vs Red Sea or South East Asia

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#1 Nicool


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Posted 03 June 2011 - 07:18 AM

Hi there,

I’ve made some research on the forum about diving around Miami (meaning 2 hours driving maxium), and I have seen a few diving videos. Still, I’m unsure about how it compares to the ‘classical’ tropical coral reefs in which I have already dived, namely the nothern red sea, Indonesia, and the great barrier reef in Australia.

My feeling is that the above named coral reefs share a lot of similarities : you get the same kinds of hard and soft corals, and many similar species (clown fishes, parrot fishes, lion fishes, trigger fishes, banner fishes, turtles…), and the differences are more due to historical reasons (frequent fishing of some species).

My question is, how does the diving around Miami compare to these ?

I believe the water can get colder in winter ?

From the videos I’ve seen, I guess the density of corals is lower ?

Do you have small funny critters like harlequin shrimps, frog fishes, gobie shrimps ?

Are there remaining big guys (sharks, dolphins, turtles, …) ?

And last but not least, how has it been affected by the BP oil catastrophy ?

I’d be very interested in hearing your opinions as :

-I may plan diving holidays there (unless everyone tells me the close-by red-sea is much better).

-I might have some professionnal opportunities to move to Miami. So the question will be : once there, shall I keep planning diving trips to the above-mentioned reef destinations, or will I be happy, finding a comparable diving quality locally ?

Have a great week-end !


#2 tyanea



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Posted 06 June 2011 - 01:24 PM


Comparing these destinations is not that difficult. There isn't a comparision!!! The Red Sea, and Southeast Asia have a much a higher density of life than florida. The diving in florida (have dove the keys) has much fewer critters, and the coral life there is dull (very brownish). So there is much less fish life, and reefs are not as pretty. However, it is diving in warm water, and if you just like to blow bubbles it will work. But if you are looking for the quality as the other locations mentioned you will be very dissappointed. You can find the critters you mentioned, but they are few and far between!

However, there is some great diving with sharks and dolphins on some bahamas liveaboard itineraries. which is a very short distance from the miami area. There is some of the best in the world in terms of sharks and dolphins.

As far as the oil spill that has affected mainly the western side of the gulf and hasn't had any impact on the eastern side of things. Shouldn't be a problem there.
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#3 Scubysnaps


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Posted 06 June 2011 - 02:46 PM


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#4 blueline


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Posted 08 June 2011 - 12:07 PM

My question is, how does the diving around Miami compare to these ?

The Fla Keys have some world class ship wrecks mainly in Key Largo/Islamorada and Key West (Spiegel Grove, Vandenberg, Duane, Thunderbolt etc..etc.. plus USS Oriskany off Pensacola(where else can you dive an aircraft carrier?)). If you are into diving ship wrecks, FL might be an equal or better destination. I agree, sea life wise, there's no comparison with Indonesia/Red Sea, but every diver is different in what they want to see.


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#5 sasdasdaf


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Posted 10 June 2011 - 12:26 AM

What others have said is spot on. The east coast of Florida and the Keys have some decent reefs and very interesting wrecks like the Spiegel Grove, Duane, Bibb, etc. There are also a number of very good wrecks in the technical range that could keep you busy for a very long time. It is a wonderful thing to be able to dive a beautiful wreck on any given day and be home in time for lunch. The other very attractive part of diving Florida is the caves in north central Florida. There are a good number of wonderful caves in the High Springs and Marianna areas (several hours' drive from Miami). Cave diving is of course a whole different ballgame that requires specialized training, but is very much worth it if you like adventure, exploration, and are not afraid of the dark.

There is also Blue Heron Bridge, which is a well known macro site.

I have not dove the Red Sea but have a fair bit of experience diving in Southeast Asia - Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. Do not expect the coral, reef, fish, and critter species in Florida to be anywhere as prolific or varied as in Southeast Asia. Marine life density in Florida is a lot lower. But the diving in Florida is good, convenient, and has a lot to offer, as long as your expectations are calibrated appropriately.

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#6 Oceanshutter


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Posted 10 June 2011 - 09:34 AM

I have dove southeast Asia and the Red Sea. Florida really doesn't compare. What the others have said is spot on.

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#7 tdpriest


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Posted 10 June 2011 - 11:30 AM

I have dove southeast Asia and the Red Sea. Florida really doesn't compare. What the others have said is spot on.

Too true: Florida's wrecks are to the Red Sea wrecks what Disneyland is to Yosemite or Yellowstone - an artificial playground. The diving conditions in the Red Sea are usually better and easier than in Indonesia, the Philipines and Malaysia, but there isn't anywhere to compete with South-East Asia for the diversity of sea life. Some things - Bahamian sharks, Honduran whale sharks, Dominican humpbacks - are not too far from Florida, but Florida itself, rewarding as it can be, is the kind of place you dive between trips to the far-flung dive sites of the world.



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#8 Nicool


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Posted 17 June 2011 - 07:56 AM

Thanks to all for your answers, this is exactly the kind of information I was looking for!

So like my current place (Antibes, France), Florida is a good place to dive (probably better than Southern France though), but does not replace places crowded with life like the famous South-Asia, Red Sea, and the works.

It's good to know as it'll help me balance my future moves properly.
I know that I'll enjoy good local diving if I move to Florida, but it won't remove the appeal of spending dive holidays abroad.