Added by Steven Backerman from his trip to West Palm Beach, Florida in May 2018
We dove with 3 different dive companies: four ocean drift dives were with Narcosis Dive Company while I also did a blackwater dive with Pura Vida Divers and did a muck dive at Blue Heron Bridge with Force-E Scuba Center.
First, let me mention that all 3 dive shops are first rate. The staff at each center are very friendly and helpful and extremely interested in making sure the dives experiences are positive.
Second, we stayed in an AirBnB, Sunshine Shores Resort, on Singer Island, which was a short walk to the beach and a very close drive to the marinas and dive shops. Nothing fancy, but they took great care of us when there was an A/C failure and the 2 BR apartment, with kitchen and decent sized living room, was pretty reasonably priced at $200.00 a night, though only 1 bathroom.
As for the diving:
The ocean diving seems to all be pretty much drift diving and the current can be fairly strong, so all four of the dives were negative entry. We saw turtles on every dive, both Green and Loggerhead, as well as lots of reef fish, lobsters, eels , Great Barracudas and nurse sharks. I did get to see one Goliath Grouper. Unfortunately, because of the incoming inclement weather and the daily rain that had pounded the area for a couple of weeks, visibility was a “dirty 30” at best….you could see, but there was lots of particulate in the water. The crew on the Narcosis was very knowledgeable and helpful, but could probably stand to slow the actual dives down a bit, as I found myself lagging in order to take photographs. In any event, overall great experience. Very safe and experienced boat captain, Alex, (who co-owns the company) and the procedures are all well-laid out with a safe, fun experience as a result.
I did my first ever blackwater dive with Pura Vida Divers and it was a blast. Pura Vida offers the blackwater night dives on Mondays and Thursdays, conditions permitting. We left the marina around 7:30 pm and headed out a few miles offshore. Over a 600’ deep seabed, we drifted 5 miles in an hour and a half. There’s a buoy floated with a downline that has lights strung every 10’ or so, down to a maximum depth of 40’. The dive briefing includes the instruction that the buoy is essentially everyone’s buddy for the dive. It drifts along with the divers (and, the boat follows in the current as well). It is a very relaxing and enjoyable dive, though there was still a lot of particulate in the water. It’s difficult enough to spot the tiny larval creatures that come to the surface to feed when it’s safer at night, but add in non-living particulate and, boy, it was quite a challenge. While I saw larval mantis shrimp, what appeared to be a larval flounder and other larval fish, it took me over ½ the dive to figure out how to get decent focus on mostly transparent and/or translucent creatures. An Arrow Squid made its appearance and I was lucky to get a great shot and I did get a couple of ok shots of cool looking jelly fish that couldn’t have been more than ¼” in size. It was truly an awesome experience and it won’t be my last blackwater dive.
Blue Heron Bridge was the main reason I wanted to dive West Palm Beach. It’s considered one of the top muck dives in the world, which is pretty cool given the fact that it is smack dab in the middle of the channel between the mainland and Singer Island. Unfortunately, conditions were not good. Visibility varied between 5 and 10 feet and, like the other dives, there was a lot of particulate. While we saw a ton of creatures, it was extremely challenging to get enough light and, once my torch conked out, I spent the remainder of the dive spectating only and not shooting. However, it is obvious that with decent conditions and enough light, diving Blue Heron Bridge is a macro lover’s paradise. I will definitely return.