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Back  |  USA: California Coast  |  Monterey

Monastery, South  |  USA: Pacific Northwest

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Carmel River State Beach
Carmel, CA

Type: Saltwater
Advanced, Technical
Access: Difficult Shore Entry
Parking: Good
Amenities: Restrooms

Ratings (1-5):
Reviews: 3
Enjoyment: 5
Visibility: 4
Current: 3
Aquatic Life: 3

Photo Gallery:

Leopard Shark
Entry Point to Monastery South
Little Help, Please?!
Black Eyed Goby
Ling hangin out at Monastery
Giant Kelp Forest
Leopard Shark on the run!
Hermit Crab Eyes!
Hanging On!
Gumboot Chiton


Large Rock Formation / Pinnacle, Boulder Pile / Shelves, Kelp Forest


This dive site is known for its beauty and array of sea life. Large granite reef structures and giant kelp forests offer endless exploration opportunities to divers.

To dive this site, enter the water toward the left side of the cove to avoid the most direct waves. Once you are in the water you can surface swim past the kelp or descend and head toward the kelp near the rock cliffs. Underwater navigation is made easy by keeping the granite reef structure and kelp forest to your left and the sandy bottom to your right. You can “jump” from structure to structure, exploring all the crevices and contours of the reef and the inhabitants of the kelp. Expect to see a large variety of invertebrates and fish at this location.

The boulder strewn bottom near the cliff descends very gradually for several hundred yards until you reach 60’ when the bottom drops off steeply toward Carmel Canyon, where depths reach well into the 1,000’s of feet deep! Mono Lobo wall is found just off the left point at about 60’ and drops to about 100’ or more. It is not recommended to attempt from shore.

Special Restrictions:

CAUTION: Surf entry and exit experience required. The site has become infamous for its difficult shore entry conditions that periodically claim the lives of divers. A steep shore bank and a prevailing northwestern exposure to swell lead to large waves that break abruptly on the shore. It is best dove on calm days preferably in the mornings. The wind waves tend to increase in the afternoon. Avoid entering the water in the middle of the cove. The surf is strongest in the middle and there is nothing but sand to see here. South Monastery tends to be slightly more protected from the surf than North Monastery. Neither location should be attempted unless conditions are calm. Make sure you reserve enough air to work back through the kelp and surf.

Restrooms can be found at the south end of the park, but not within “diver” walking distance from North Monastery.

How to get there:

The dive site is named for the large old church that sits across the street from the park. The park is called Carmel River State Beach and is located right off Big Sur Coast Highway Route 1 about 4 miles south of the Hwy 68 intersection and just north of the entry point to Point Lobos. Park in the dirt parking lot at the south end of the park, suit up at your vehicle and shuffle up the sand bar toward the water at the left side of the cove.

Thanks to ChevaYEA for submitting this site!
  Comments Leave Review  
ChevaYEA2/15/2008Rating: 5
A great but challenging dive site. Lots of kelp and potential hazardous surf conditions protect this site from an overabundance of divers. For the best diving keep to the left near the reef. If you veer to the left you’ll only see sand. Keep your reg in when entering and exiting the water!

SwimmerTodd2/16/2008Rating: 5
The south side of monestary is similar to the north, but stays relatively shallow unless you stray toward the center of the cove. I would warn you to pay attention to exit that you don't end up in the midst of the rocks on the sides of the cove, as we ended up doing just that and put ourselves into a potentially dangerous situation. Nothing like a good, hard swim to get the blood pumping!

Slobert2/16/2008Rating: 5
A difficult exit even on a good day, but worth the effort. Very simular to point lobos. This side not as dramatic as the north side of Monestary, but a nice dive if the north is rough or you have allready dove the north side.


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