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The Key's...looking for suggestions on T/S's

UWSurfer

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This is a bit complicated, but I'll try to keep it short.

I won a 2 day dive trip in Key West along with 2 nights stay at the Southernmost hotel there. I live in LA so I'm looking to extend this trip by working my way back up through the keys & back to the airport either in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. I'd ultimately like to book stays using my RCI points or possibly HHonors. I might be solo or going with my wife, depending on her schedule.

I was in Ft. Lauderdale 20+ years ago with a 1 day trip down to Key Largo diving Pencamp. I will be in Orlando for the 2nd time ever this coming spring with the family, so I'm not too familiar what's there. I've already gone through several threads on this board about Key West, but don't have a good feel for what I'm looking for.

Here's the trick...the dates for the free dive/stay package are from Nov 8 - Dec 22nd this year, and June 1 - Oct 31 of 2009. I don't believe I have time to do the trip this year and really, REALLY want to avoid hurricans and acknowledge this is hurrican season in 2009. The dive operator suggested early June, but my kids graduate from high school this June so I'm thinking it's not the best time to go off on a trip, and am leaning toward mid-October 2009 at this moment. Nothing is definite with me. I'm also looking for the cheapest airfare I can find...noting a few dates with SW airlines for $99 each way, LA to Ft. Laurdale.

With that, my initial thinking was to fly to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami based on airfare, rent a car and attempt to get an open season night at HGVC miami or a simple motel six type place/rate one day ahead of the Key West stay to get aclimated before driving down and diving. It doesn't have to be Miami, and frankly could be Key Largo for a couple of nights, possibly using RCI Points, prior to Key West. I'd then look at a stay for a couple nights on the way back up somewhere else working my way back up the keys. I LOVE to dive and surf, but would have to make my last dive on scuba no less than 24 hours before getting back on the plane.

The trick for me is keeping the costs down and avoiding Hurricans, and with all the various possibilities, I could use some suggestions from those who know the region of what might be good, and what to stay away from. I appreciate any info or thoughts you might have.
 
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vacationhopeful

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Hurricane season starts in July and some of the best storms have struck in the Aug (Andrew) and Sep (Wilma) (and Oct) time frame ... which can tear up the reefs pretty good.

June is a good month. Ft Lauderdale has that off-shore reef and a dive/snorkeling industry to support tourist and novice divers. Make it a family trip.

As for places to stay - Pompano Beach (Lighthouse Point is a cut from the intercoastal waterway to the ocean) and Ft Lauderdale has the other cut. I would choose the Ft Lauderdale area - more options for food and shopping. Both have day trip boats. Just be sure to check if the Ft Lauderdale T/S resorts charge for parking (Beach Place is $17+ per day, Doubletree Hotel is $24, Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort (RCI Points) is free parking).
 

MaryH

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Do you know which dive outfit the free dives are with in Key West?

I was there beginning of Oct this year and mid Dec 2 years ago and ended up getting certified with Southpoint Divers. I would vote for this year Nov-Dec first and if not first half of June as second choice and 2nd half of October as 3rd choice. For example, Ike really did a number on the coral reef this year so pre-season would be better than post hurraicane season.

There are inexpensive hotels both in FLL and MIA near the airport, some with free parking. If you go someplace central such as miami beach, the parking can be expensive. My parking at Hotel Victor on Miami Beach was $25 self and $32 valet. Key Largo is another good place for scuba from what I heard. If you like diving, I would actually try to book the free nights on the weekend and there are some inexpensive auctions for Hyatt VCs in Key West for example for weekdays or perhaps you can use your RCi points at Galleon. Around Marathon, there are plenty of motels that are close to the ocean or even with ocean views and they are lower in price on the weekends.

Check rental car prices before deciding on which airport to fly in. The flight is cheaper for FLL but rental car ended up being 80$ more..
 
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