There are many protected dive sites along the Monterey Peninsula and Lovers Point sits about in the middle. This rocky point and beach park have been known over 150 years as a place amorous couples share the magnificent ocean view. These days divers can also enjoy the spectacular underwater scenery.
At Lovers Point you can enter the water on either side of the point for very different experiences. You may reach the water on the east side via two, stone staircases. The east side is well protected from the swell and are popular with beginners. The sand beach gives way to eel grass-covered rocky ledges in 4-8 feet of water that drop away to a flat rock and sand bottom. Look for invertebrates that hide on the algae-covered bottom. Hermit crabs as well as Cancer crabs hunker down in between the seaweed, while flatworms and nudibranchs pursue a continuous search for dinner. Surfperch hang just off the eelgrass.
If you head offshore to the left of the beach, the sand bottom drops off slowly to a scattered group of rocky pinnacles that stretch up 10 feet or so 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 is 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 toward the breakwater you will encounter a sandy area where numerous bat rays may be found. Look for them digging clams out of the sand.
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. Use good judgment when entering here. The rock-and-sand 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.
Within the nooks-and-crannies of the rocks hide an assortment 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 shy gobies. A few, smallish game fish including rockfish, cabezon and lingcod also find homes here.
Lovers 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 holdfasts, 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.
The large grassy park is a great place for an after-dive barbeque, or you can walk to one of the nearby restaurants. The rocky point offers inspirational views of the ocean. Remember, Lovers Point is still for lovers, especially those who love diving and the sea.
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.
Skill level: All
Depth: 20-70 feet
Visibility: Generally good, 10-40 feet
Special Regulations: From May 1 through September 30, on Friday through Monday and certain holidays, all diving activity on the east side of Lovers Point is prohibited; however diving is permitted on the east side of the point southerly 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. Google “Lovers Point diving rules” for full description.
Hunting: Lovers 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; an offshore buoy marks the beginning of the 60-foot depth contour. Fishing rules are expected to change and divers should check the latest rules before taking game.
Photography: Good macro for nudibranchs and octopuses, fair wide-angle.