Overview of Christmas Tree Cove

Christmas Tree Cove

California Mid
USA West


For the divers who dug deep into their dive logs to recommend this site, we appreciate your effort! However, we would not recommend attempting this dive for the near to distant future. The cliff access is now a fresh landslide. Please let us know when the site has its trail rebuilt!

Directions: Located in the posh Palos Verdes area, grab your street map and follow along: From the Pacific Coast Highway, head South on Palos Verdes Blvd for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Palos Verdes Drive West. In 3.8 miles, turn right on Paseo Lunado which becomes Paseo Del Mar. You'll see the park on your right.


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*  Christmas Tree Cove -- Aerial shot submitted by Phil Garner

Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

02/09/2014 Phil Garner (Avg: 2.95 Review) - The trail was not affected by the recent landslides. It's as difficult as it always was.

05/21/2012 J. Bowdin (Avg: 3.66 Review) - I'm pretty new to this, this being Free Diving, but out of the places I've gone around PV, Christmas Tress Cove has been the best. The hike in is definitely a little tricky, kinda fun if you like tricky hiking/small scale rock climbing. Once down, entry over the rocks on the right side is relatively easy during high tide, or there looked to be a beach with smaller rocks to the left (after climbing over some larger boulders). The vis in the cove was pretty good on the day I went, probably 10-15 ft. Saw plenty of smaller fish and lots of kelp. I also went to another small cove right next to this, between Christmas Tree and Lunada Bay, not sure what it's called. The trail to this cove is much steeper, one section has a rope that you have to use to get up and down. Well worth it though, just as good as Christmas Tree or better, even saw some rays on this side! I was worried about public access when I first started looking into places to dive, but Christmas Tree Cove is definitely still accessible to the public.

08/19/2011 Anonymous (Avg: 2.87 Review) - The trail is fine. It's steep, but I managed to do it in flip flops with a beach bag. Was too scared to go into the water however because I was by myself and you have to get in over rocks and I was scared of a wave knocking me over. But there were two other snorkelers out there who were having a blast. I just wish I could have gone in with them but was too shy to ask. :(

08/16/2008 John from West Hollywood (Avg: 3.11 Review) - To all those who actually went diving here, you're incredible. I'm not sure if the trail was 'rebuilt,' but it's a perilous climb down. What's worse is that there's a private trail with stairs and hand rails just teasing you, leading down from some huge mansion that probably belongs to one of the Lakers. My wife and I just brought our fins and mask for some free diving and the climb was tough. I can't imagine going down with all my gear, tank and weights. BUT, if you do decide to take the challenge, it's a beautiful and remote spot. Parking is a breeze and we only saw a couple of other friendly hikers, other than that, it was private. After the descent, we climbed (hand and foot) over some rocks to get to our entry point (divers probably enter just to the north of the hike down). Vis was about 10-15, but among the rocks, there were some amazing sea urchin beds, numbering in the hundreds, plus starfish and other exotic plant life. I'm no pro when it comes to identifying fish, but there were thin green schools about 4 inches long, 6 inch blue fish, and something big that looked like a trout. I'd love to revisit to scuba, but the hike is just too perilous, or would require 3 trips up and down.

05/15/2008 Dave from Las Vegas (Avg: 3.04 Review) - I grew up diving Crystal Cove aka Christmas Tree cove. On my last dive in 2007, I introduced my kids to the site. No doubt the hike is an issue, so travel lite and take your time. I recommend beach entry off the south point. Go south for lobster, West for fish, and there is a GREAT tide surge tube on the south side of the south point about 25-35 meters (about mid-reef) that at high tide is a fun spot for snorkels. Be safe and enjoy.

01/12/2008 Frank Lukowski (Avg: 3.14 Review) - Trail is re-built and ready for usage. Still very treacherous descent and climb up. Hike to point is hard with gear but worth the effort." Best to keep gear to a minimum ie:FREE-DIVING" Kelp beds off far point have moderate amount of life. Surge is present off point, which can be dangerous for inexperienced divers. Closer in to the cove, rays can be found. Enjoyable dive, take your time on descent and climb up.

08/15/2007 Dustin (Avg: 2.64 Review) - Murder! I cut myself to death trying to haul my gear down the hill. You could easily slip and break something going down that hill, let alone having your gear tumble all the way to the bottom. Rocks on the trail are very sharp and dangerous, very steep. For the hike, it was not rewarding for what I saw. Kelp was minimal with no extravagant wildlife. Visibility was good. The trip back up the hill (not path) was death. I will never return. Even if it were rebuilt, the hill is way too steep and long.

08/23/2006 Nate (Avg: 2.66 Review) - Do not dive here! I ruined a pair of jeans and broke my thumb hiking down the washed-out trail with pieces gear. I was gung-ho when I first arrived, but it was a terrible mistake trying to get the gear down, and getting it back up was a nightmare. The roads are awesome though, and the parking is outstanding. The water was murky, with visibility at 10-15 feet today. Do yourself a favor and dive elsewhere until the path is fixed.

08/19/2006 Mike Barr (Avg: 3.65 Review) - This is my first snorkeling experience since Marineland closed its "Baja Reef" swim-through aquarium in 1987. A friend took me down to see tide pools further South of the cove, but pulled out a snorkel and jumped in right there at the cove's southern tip. We went across to the small rock island, and in between was a big Garibaldi, tons of stars and purple urchins, and some sleek, silvery fish with horizontal blue stripes. I was hesitant due to my lack of experience, but my friend's own confidence and experience hyped me up. I hooted with excitement when I reached the island, and scared off a seal that had been sunning itself, camouflaged on the rocks. It swam around and checked us out, and took his spot back after we left. Visibility was about 20 ft. Incidentally, my friend calls this Crystal Cove, "because the water's so clear." He's a lifetime local; go figure.

08/12/2004 Roland Baker (Avg: 2.87 Review) - The trail was in pretty good condition and I would consider it safe for healthy individuals. The climb up is very taxing and I would recommend 2 trips to get your gear back to the car. Entry from the rocks on the north side of the cove was pretty easy in the smallish surf. We then surface swam to the outer south reef before descending. Vis was in the 15'-20' range. My wife was not comfortable with the surge on the outer reef so we made our heading back towards the kelp bed in the center of the cove. There was a few Garibaldi, perch and good sized calicos around. Tons of starfish and purple urchins. Spotted a 2-3lb lobster. Enjoyable, but uneventful. I aborted our plan to exit from the original rock entry point due to the increased surf and my wife's inexperience. We exited on the small stone beach to the south side of the cove which was easy. However, this exit requires lugging your gear over some pretty large boulders and this will require two trips to do safely. This is a dive to do when you feel in top shape and are looking for some serious exercise.

08/11/2004 Bruce Irvine (Avg: 3.06 Review) - I came out to visit a dive buddy and this is where he took me. Not the easiest dive, but I guess he wanted to see how tough I was! It was a good climb down (and up) with the gear-- we made two trips both ways, so I think you need to be in pretty good shape. The Star Fish and Lobster were the highlights of the dive -- I really love California diving. 'Bitchen' I think they say :-) Just be careful with your entry and exit, and you should have a great dive.

09/19/2003 John Tompkins (Avg: 2.94 Review) - This site has a pretty difficult entry, but once in the visibility was pretty good (about 10') and the sea life was plentiful. Lots of fish and the reef about 30' offshore has an abundance of sea stars but the intense surf can sometimes make this spot inaccessible....oh yeah and the path is there although it's tricky but well worth it.

12/01/2001 Phil Garner (Avg: 2.90 Review) - Continued from earlier evaluation

11/17/2001 Phil Garner (Avg: 2.70 Review) - This is my favorite beach dive site in California. The visibility averages five to ten feet better than other sites on the peninsula. The trail can be a killer, but my wife(5'3")once carried three tanks up the hill in one trip. If you plan to make two dives, I suggest taking tanks for both dives down together rather than making two trips up this trail. You can leave the second tank between some rocks on the shore. If someone wants to steal it and carry it up, more power to them. As you enter the cove, the area immediately to the right has some excellent snorkeling in five to twenty feet of clear water. The best diving begins just outside the center of the cove. There are rocks the size of school buses covered with sea stars, kelp, sponges, anemones and an assortment of fish. There is a high spot outside and to the left of center that breaks the surface at low tide. If you follow this reef offshore you will find beautiful overhangs and hiding places for many critters down to eighty feet, where the rocks give way to a sandy plain. Here you will find seapens, tube anemones, sand dollars and Halibut. The first time I snorkeled at Christmas Tree Cove, I saw a Leopard shark and a large Batray in the shallow spot. My first scuba dive here brought eight Blue Sharks and a very friendly Harbor seal. After getting out of the water once, a Gray whale surfaced right where I had been less than two minutes earlier. When the ocean is flat and you feel adventurous, this is well worth the hike. Photography can be excellent, however hunting is rather poor. There seem to be few large fish and even fewer lobsters here.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM1501


Overview at Christmas Tree Cove 

Still muddy from one of many land slides, the diving around the point appears to be reasonably clear--- and exciting!




Overview at Christmas Tree Cove 

By Phil Garner - 2014




Overview at Christmas Tree Cove 

By Phil Garner - 2014




Overview at Christmas Tree Cove 

By Phil Garner - 2014




Overview at Christmas Tree Cove 

By Phil Garner - 2014

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Christmas Tree Cove  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  1.71
Bottom Conditions:  3.21
Reef Conditions:  3.14
Animal Life:  3.21
Plant Life:  3.43
Facilities:  1.36
Solitude 4.43
Roads:  3.57
*Site Average:  3.01

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.14
Beginner Scuba:  2.64
Intermediate Scuba:  3.07
Advanced Scuba:  3.43
Night diving Scuba:  2.71

Number of reviews for this site: 14


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