So many dive sites, so little time. . . Where to dive today? Let’s say you are a relatively new diver to Monterey, have dived at the Breakwater or McAbee Beach, and you are looking for something new and a little more challenging. Or, you are a photographer looking for good macro photography, or you’re with a non-diving family. I suggest you check out
On the east side of Lover’s Point are two small, sandy beaches that may be reached via stone stairs. These are very well protected from the swell, regardless of direction, and are, consequently, popular with beginners. The sand beach gives way to eel grass-covered rocky ledges in four to eight feet of water that drop away to a flat rock and sand bottom. In these shallow waters are found an assortment of invertebrates that cling tenaciously to the algae-covered bottom. Hermit crabs, as well as crabs of the genus Cancer scurry on the rocks, while flatworms and nudibranchs slowly crawl from one rock to the next.
A little farther offshore and to the left the sand bottom is dotted with rocky pinnacles that stretch up 10 to 20 feet from the 30-to 40-foot bottom. On these pinnacles can be found a cornucopia of colorful invertebrate life. Dense colonies of dime-sized strawberry anemones carpet the rocks in hues of red, orange and lavender. Larger anemones such as the red rose, spotted rose, or giant green dot the rocky surfaces and surge channels. If you continue to the right you will encounter a sandy area where numerous bat rays may be found.
Within the nooks-and-crannies of the pinnacles hide an assortment of small fish, nudibranchs, and colorful sponges. It is a macro photographer’s heaven. The fish here offer variety for the underwater photographer, from the beautifully ornamented snubnose sculpins to the grotesque monkeyface-eel. A few, smallish game fish including rockfish, cabezon and lingcod find homes here.
Lover’s Point is one of the few places that I know of where octopuses may be consistently found during the day. Look for them on the sand bottom between rocks, on kelp hold fasts, or surprisingly, swimming in mid-water. The predominant octopus in Northern California is the red octopus which grows only to about 10 inches from tentacle tip to tentacle tip.
Divers may also enter on the west side of the point, although it is more exposed to the ocean swell, and is normally rougher and more surgy that the east side. The bottom gradually drops away from 20 feet to about 70 feet over about 300 yards, but good diving may be found only about 50 yards from shore. The area has a sand bottom with rocky ledges and pinnacles. If you enter on the west side of the point it is a shorter swim to the rocky pinnacles, than from the east entry.
While aquatic family members are out enjoying the water, others can picnic or barbecue on the lawn of the park, or enjoy the beautiful sea and coastline, or shop at the nearby outlet center, or simply relax. No matter who you’re with, non-divers will find plenty to do, and the divers will find that Lover’s Point offers up enough critters to keep ’em coming back for more.
Dive Spot At A Glance
Location: In Pacific Grove, along Ocean View Boulevard
Access and Entry: Park along Ocean View Boulevard on the west side of the Point or in the small parking lot south of the point for easy beach access via stone stairs. Boats may be launched at the Monterey Breakwater for a 15-minute ride to the dive site. The park has changing/restrooms and picnic areas, and there are several good restaurants nearby.
Depth: 20-60 feet
Visibility: Generally good, 20-40 feet
Skill level: All
Special Regulations: From May 1 through September 30, on Friday through Monday, all diving activity on the east side of Lover’s Point is prohibited; however, diving is permitted on the east side of the point south of the pier from sunset through 11:30 a.m.
Divers and their gear should be off the beach by 11:30 to avoid being fined. Diving on the east side of the point from November through April and on the west side of the point year around is unregulated.
Hunting: Lover’s Point is located within the limits of the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Fish Refuge. No invertebrate may be taken in waters to a depth of 60 feet, and offshore buoy marks the beginning of the 60-foot depth contour. The Point marks the boundary of the Edward F. Ricketts Marine Park, and spearfishing is prohibited.
Photography: Good macro for nudibranchs and octopuses; fair wide-angel .
Conditions: Call (831) 657-1020.