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  1. #1

    Default First trip to Florida

    Hi guys,

    I'm currently trying to get the funds together for a trip to Florida this coming Xmas from the UK.

    I'm a Cave Diving Group qualified diver. As well as being big into sump diving, I'm also quite happy doing dives to about 280feet depth with penetration of 5000/6000feet.

    So I'm trying to figure out how much I'll need to save up, but that's leading to other questions:
    1. What airports are best to fly into?
    2. Is there a place I can buy sorb from in cave country?
    3. Where can I get fills from in cave country?
    4. Is there a good place to stay?
    5. Where can I rent scooters from?
    6. Where can I rent cylinders from? Probably looking for five Al80s, two steel 3L cylinders (24cuft?) and two steel 20L cylinders (140cuft?)

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated.


  2. #2
    Administrator Forum Admin
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    22,694

    Default

    1. Jacksonville, or Orlando are probably the best airports.
    2. Most of the shops in cave country sell sorb
    3. There are at least five shops serving the main area, and a couple more farther west.
    4. There are at least a dozen places catering to cave divers.
    5. Probably about 5 shops that rent scooters.
    6. Most of the dive shops rent cylinders.

    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
    Any opinions are personal.
    Sump Divers

  3. #3

    Default

    Basically what Forrest said.

    The two shops in the heart of High Springs are Extreme Exposure and Cave Country Dive Shop. They will be able to cater to all of your needs.

    Accommodations can be had in the $30-$50 a night range. High Springs Country Inn is a nice motel, but there are lots of other house accommodations that can be had and offer the opportunity to meet more cave divers. Give Wayne at Amigo's Dive Center a call (386) 497-3876


  4. #4

    Default

    Dive Outpost is another option approximately 40-45 minutes from High Springs (if you were wanting to dive places like Madison, Little River, or Peacock). Cathy has cabins and bunkrooms there that are clean and low cost.

    "There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage." - Mark Twain

  5. #5

    Default

    Cave Adventurers is also able to cater to everything and is up in the panhandle. Some really cool caves up in that neck of the woods too


  6. #6

    Default

    Flying into Jacksonville or Gainesville are going to be the closest airports. However, you're going to have to make connections to get there. Orlando would probably be the closest place that would fly direct from the UK.

    I won't address the other issues since they've been addresses. However, if you rent a car you'll need to bear in mind that we drive on the civilized side of the road.


  7. #7

    Default

    I've done 4 trips now and our dive group has done about 10 from the UK in the last few years. It's an awesome idea - do it!

    I normally fly MAN to MCO (Orlando) with Virgin. Pick your dates and you can get return for 400-500quid. Fixed dates can be a bit more. Avoid holiday weeks. It can be 1500+ economy. Exit row seats rather than premium economy is the cheap option. Virgin have just stopped free sports baggage which is annoying. Extra bags are 30quid each way or so.

    If you've got time, get a virgin Atlantic (white) credit card and buy stuff with it. Points discount *some* flights. I put a lot of business materials and stuff through a VA black Amex card to get double/4x points and potential free flights. Only worth it if you can spend 50-100k because you have to pay a heafty fee for the card.

    Lots of dive shops. We use Extreme Exposure or D3, which are GUE/DIR orientated. Good for finding similar style buddies. Cave country dive shop or amigos are all good.

    We've stayed a few places. High Springs Country Inn is fine. We stayed at Hoot Owl Ranch once. That was cheaper and based on trailers but comfortable enough.

    Car hire we use usacarhire. They sell a gold voucher that gets you fuel and cdw all included. Agents for Alamo. Cars are in terminal at Orlando and very easy. 2.5hrs to high springs. Get a bit of dollar cash for the tolls.

    For scooters, they are generally not allowed in the state parks. Ginnie needs CAVE DPV card. You may have to invent/print a CDG one

    Money-wise. I went in 2013. 10days diving. Typically 32% twinset + stage + oxygen every day, couple of days of mix. Cost 1600quid for everything. Flights, fuel, food (supermarket lunch, steak dinners), accommodation, diving. I wrote a trip report on TDF, do a search for 'High Springs'

    I went before Xmas. Dec 2016. Should have been 11days diving, but I sat-out 4days ill. I reckon it cost a bit more - 1800 maybe, but we stayed in the EE house which was a bit of a luxury. Supermarket food was noticeably more expensive.

    Exchange rate is now an issue. Everything basically costs double what it did in 2008.

    Edit : when booking virgin flights, try clearing your cookies, using incognito mode or using a different IP address. They adjust the flight costs when you check back for 2nd or 3rd time to make you think the flight is filling up. Clear the cookies and it goes back down!

    Last edited by Steve Clark; 01-17-2017 at 07:38 PM.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    St Petersburg, FL
    Posts
    2,731

    Default

    Flying into tampa is an option too. Sometimes tampa is cheaper than orlando and vice versa. All depends. Its two hours from tampa to high springs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rddvet View Post
    Flying into tampa is an option too. Sometimes tampa is cheaper than orlando and vice versa. All depends. Its two hours from tampa to high springs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Agreed. I've found variations of up to $100 per round-trip domestic flight just by switching between the two, although I greatly prefer Tampa...

    "There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage." - Mark Twain

  10. #10

    Default

    " when booking virgin flights, try clearing your cookies, using incognito mode or using a different IP address. They adjust the flight costs when you check back for 2nd or 3rd time to make you think the flight is filling up. Clear the cookies and it goes back down!"

    That is ingenious, i never thought of that!

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk



 

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