Dive Spots

A Good Site, By Any Name: Three Fingers Reef, 
7-Fathom Reef or Tower Reef

Currents are the lifeblood of any healthy reef system, especially in California. In a current, the leading edge of the reef is the most fascinating. There always seems to be a lot of fish life and the reef bustles with activity. Three Fingers Reef is bathed in nutrient-rich currents, creating an underwater garden of color, life and activity. This spot is also frequently called 7-fathom or Tower Reef (named for the water tower on shore). No matter how you call it, it’s a beautiful dive. […]

A Great Escape: Carmel River State Beach

The early Spanish explorers put many of the names on the map, and this spot is no exception. Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the patroness of priests who accompanied the explorer, Sebastian Vizcaíno, in 1602. He named a number of places Carmel in honor of his priests. This beach is found just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and is popular with beach lovers and a few intrepid divers. My favorite way to dive this site is to enter at the far west end of the beach, […]

Monterey’s Iconic Dive Site: The Breakwater

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Beginner or better. Location: The Breakwater is located at the intersection of Cannery Row and Foam Street in the City of Monterey. Access: Available at the base of The Breakwater, or above San Carlos Beach, northeast of The Breakwater. It is a short walk to the beach down a well-maintained set of stairs. Facilities: Restrooms and showers are available on The Breakwater. Breakwater Scuba is located on Cannery Row at the north end of San Carlos Beach, and Out To Sea is […]

An Underwater Safari: Exploring Africa Cove

When we boarded the Sundiver Express we were headed for Catalina Island, but when we reached our dive site, the skipper, Kyaa, said we’d just reached Africa. I’m not exactly certain how Africa Cove got its name, but I’m guessing it’s because exploring this site is like being on an underwater safari. Almost immediately I found a pair of moray eels and about a half-dozen lobsters. Africa Cove is part of a Marine Conservation Area, which accounts for some of its bounty. As with most […]

Monterey’s Accidental Dive Site: Municipal Wharf II

‘What is the best dive in Monterey Bay? What is best? Best for photography? Easiest entry? Most diverse marine life? Not an easy question… No easy answers… One way to address the question is to listen to what the experts say. Lynn May, the original owner of the Silver Prince dive boat, could dive anywhere he wanted. He claimed that the best dive in Monterey Bay was the Municipal Wharf II. Wharf II was actually inspired by an accident. On March 3, 1923, the largest […]

The Jewel of Emerald Bay: Indian Rock

My buddy and I became separated. We could not see each other. Although the water clarity was upward of 50 feet, and we were about 20 feet off the bottom, and only 20 feet apart we were blinded simply by the engulfing mass of silver life that surrounded us. I even had trouble telling which way was up! The school of jack mackerel was massive, the largest I’d ever seen. It must have numbered 10 to 20 thousand, but who was counting or even could. […]

“Nobody Here But Us Otters”: Scuba Solitude at Monterey’s Otter Cove

Monterey County has an incredible variety of dive sites, and nearly every public access point offers up a great dive. However, some sites are often very crowed with beach lovers and divers, while equally good nearby sites go unnoticed. Otter Cove is one of those sites. Nearby Lovers Point is often chock-full of divers, while you may not find another diver at Otter Cove, and these sites are only about a quarter-mile apart. At the Otter Cove parking area a sign lets you know you […]

Diving Anacapa’s “Coral Reef”

When you think of coral reefs, chances are you think of underwater scenery featuring bright colors. Our waters are a bit too chilly to support actual coral reefs, but the colors here might just fool you into thinking you’re on an actual tropical reef. Anacapa’s Coral Reef dive site is covered with colorful invertebrate marine life. Patchwork clusters of tiny corynactis anemones make up the main mosaic. You’ll see the lavender, yellow, and pink hues of these tiny anemones. Baseball-sized white-spotted rose anemones offer deep […]

Picking Favorites: North Monastery Beach

Last summer a clerk at one of my local dive shops engaged me in conservation. After exchanging a few pleasantries she asked, “What is your favorite beach dive?” This made me think a bit, since there are so many great beach dives in North/Central California. I really wanted to say, “Depends on conditions,” but held my tongue. After a bit more thought I responded, “North Monastery Beach.” Monastery Beach is located right along Highway 1, and just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This beach is officially the […]

For Sea Fan Fans: Catalina’s Stony Point

I’m a big fan of sea fans. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy diving Catalina’s Stony Point, because it’s adorned with an excellent variety and healthy population of gorgonian sea fans. First, I find them exceptionally beautifully but just as important, they don’t go anywhere. In scientific terminology, they are “sessile,” firmly affixed to the bottom — which makes them an easy photo subject. Their only motion is to sway gently in the surge and currents, quietly filtering their food from the water. They are […]

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