First we dived from shore, then from kayaks and small boats–but only using shore line-ups to find sites. Advances in technology including depth finders, GPS and bathometry charts have allowed us to not only discover but also reliably locate fabulous dive sites that are far from shore. Monterey’s dive boat captains strive to discover new sites, and offer their customers a better and wider range of dive sites than ever before. These offshore sites are often pristine and abound in the variety of marine life that makes California diving so interesting. Flintstones is a good example of such a site.
Flintstones is a massive pinnacle located offshore of Yankee Point, south of Point Lobos. The top of the rock is at 52 feet and its sides drop away to a 180-foot bottom. In some spots the rock drops vertically in massive walls; in others it rolls away in a smooth arc. There are smaller rocks surrounding the main pinnacle.
This rock topped with a bit of palm and bull kelp in summer and fall, but is pretty sparse in winter. Below the kelp is a thick covering of encrusting invertebrates, mostly strawberry anemones. While not unique to Monterey, these anemones have a greater variation in color here than I’ve seen at any other site–the usual reds, oranges and purples, but also shades of yellow, rust and brown. They tend to cover and hide a number of larger invertebrates, including barnacles and rock scallops. There are also patches of encrusting sponges that add a splash of color. Here you will also find chestnut cowries and several species of sea stars. There are also a large number of nudibranchs, both in terms of numbers of individuals and numbers of species. Every square inch of rock is covered with life, and the only limit to the invertebrate life here is the available rock. The amount and variety of life here is simply incredible.
There are indentations in the rock for divers to get out of the current and swell to find and photograph invertebrates and small fish. There are lots of greenlings, sculpins and gobies hiding among the anemones. Larger rockfish and kelpfish may be found hiding back in cracks or resting on the carpet of anemones. Look in larger cracks for brown and gopher rockfish. In some areas there are patches of small trees of pink and purple hydrocoral. On my recent dive the rock was circled by an enormous school of blue rockfish.
The deeper areas the rocks are covered with a field of huge Metridium anemones, adorning the area in a massive white coat. If you go deeper yet, around 120 feet, you will find a few red gorgonians. At this depth you may also spot a starry or rosy rockfish; these are almost never observed on inshore reefs.
On a recent late March dive we were treated to several passing gray whales making their way north to the Bering Sea. We did not see any underwater, but this dive site does not need whales to make it spectacular. You can only dive Flintstones when the seas and currents permit, but when conditions are right this is one of the very best sites in the Monterey area.
Dive Spot At A Glance
Location: Offshore of Yankee Point at N 36° 29.370′, W121° 57.457′
Access: This site is only diveable from a boat. Monterey’s charter dive boats will visit this site when conditions are calm, and currents are slack.
Skill Level: Advanced due to depths and currents.
Depths: 52 to 132 feet, although you can get to 180 feet.
Visibility: Generally very good, 30-50 feet
Photography: Great opportunity for macro, fish and wide-angel images.
Hunting: This site is within the boundaries of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve (under the Marine Life Protection Act) and no hunting is permitted. It is, however, not within the access-restricted area of Point Lobos State Reserve (part of the State Park system).
Hazards: Access to very deep water, currents and boat traffic. You should be able to descend the anchor line, find the anchor at the end of the dive, and ascend to your boat. Private boat owners should have prior experience anchoring on offshore pinnacles.
Dive Charter Boats Serving the Area: www.montereydiveboats.com.