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Back  |  USA: California Coast  |  Monterey

Monastery, North  |  USA: Pacific Northwest

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Carmel River State Beach
Carmel, CA

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

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

Photo Gallery:

Noble Sea Lemon Nudibranch
Monastery Kelp Forest
Snubnose Sculpin
Fish Eating Anemone
The Perfect DIve team at Monastery
Cormorant Swimming
Weird Crab


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


This dive site is known for its beauty and array of sea life as well as its potential for great depths. Large granite reef structures and giant kelp forests offer endless exploration opportunities to divers. The Carmel Trench comes right up to the point of the reef bringing a great variety of life to this dive location. On the beach, you will see the kelp forest in front of you and the granite cliffs to your right. This same structure extends underwater making navigation easy. About 75 yards from shore the bottom of the reef drops steeply. Divers can explore the steep cliffs and kelp forest inhabitants with the best color and life found located around 30 40.

The granite reef ends at about 160 and turns to a very steep sloping bottom into the Carmel Trench which boasts depths in the 1,000s of feet range!

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. In the event that conditions are bad, 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.

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 along the road at the north end of the park, suit up at your vehicle and shuffle along the trail toward the water at the right side of the cove.

Thanks to ChevaYEA for submitting this site!
  Comments Leave Review  
ChevaYEA2/16/2008Rating: 5
A challenging dive site that gets deep quickly but the most enjoyable part of the site is actually from 30-60. Be ready for lots of kelp and some challenging surf.

SwimmerTodd2/16/2008Rating: 5
This was perhaps my favorite deep dive yet! There are granite walls and cliffs that take you down to the great ravine that makes monestary point. The walls end at 160 sfw and the sand trench drops into nothingness from there. Because of the nature of Monestary and difficulty of the entrance/exit, it would not be a good candidate for a deco dive, so watch your guages and stay on top of it if you decide to go deep. If you prefer to stay more shallow, the dive is incredible all the way up!

Slobert2/16/2008Rating: 5
Wow, I really liked this site. Very cool. The wall at the end that drops into the carmal river canyon is worth looking at but all the life is in the kelp forest and shallower reefs. Please dive it on a smaller surf day and even then crawl out with your reg in your mouth till you are on dry sand. People get killed and lots of close calls in the surf zone. its a really steep heavy wave and you can get pummelled if you are not carefull.


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