Overview of Breakwater Cove

Breakwater Cove

California North
USA West


Breakwater Cove is another popular dive site. Parking can be limited, so get there early. This is a wonderful place to get a glimpse of sea lions, octopus, and other marine creatures. The best diving is on the outer side of breakwater. Beware of kelp and boats!

Directions: In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto Cannery Row.


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04/17/2013 Anonymous (Avg: 3.64 Review) - (No Comment)

02/17/2013 SF-Jeff (Avg: 2.83 Review) - Hit the Breakwater this morning. After some morning fog, the sun was out by 10AM and water temp was 53F with about 10 feet vis. Dove the wall at Marker 9 and saw lots of stars, some quarter-size jellies, and bunch of lingcod. Surge picked up around 1PM, but not too much energy.

02/14/2013 Green Water Diver (Avg: 3.18 Review) - The Breakwater is great site for beginning divers. In fact every Saturday you will find dive instructors out there giving SCUBA classes. Its main attraction is the ease of access. The beach entry is easy and safe and the reef literally creeps right up onto the beach. Don't listen to anyone who badmouths the deli, Valentina and her family are wonderful and the food there is EXCELLENT. They are extremely dog friendly. Just don't ask for change and don't ask about their accents. If 20 people per day asked you about your accent it would piss you off too.

08/14/2012 Anonymous (Avg: 2.71 Review) - Check visibility with other divers around before you suit up. Our dive visibility was not much farther than my hand in front of my face. Only sea life we saw were Jellyfish. Monterey seems like a real gamble in terms of dive conditions (visibility). I'm not sure if it's worth it for me to plan any more dives here.

01/07/2012 AJ Morales (Avg: 4.14 Review) - Breakwater is a great place for beginner divers. A lot of local shops use this site for their open water check out dives. Recommend getting there early for parking. Great site for Crabs, Nudibranch, starfish, octopus, otters, harbor seals and of course just to name a few. Swim out and then take a bearing Cannery Row and you will find a series of pipes. When you find one that looks interesting to you, follow it to deeper water. You will find tons of life.

12/20/2011 Monterey Local (Avg: 4.08 Review) - Breakwater is a great place to try out Northern California diving. It is always diveable. True, the visibility can vary from 5-40ft. There is an abundance of sealife including seals, sea lions and otters. Along the wall you will find nudibranchs anemone, etc. Don't miss a trip out to the metridium field. It's otherworldly. At night you will see octopus, shrimp and so many fish! Between dives I recommend eating at the deli on the breakwater. True the proprietors are a bit stoic but they are very nice and the food is excellent. Try the pulled pork. I'm an instructor and I must dive 50 dives/year here.

05/13/2011 Tahoe1840 (Avg: 3.21 Review) - Helping with a OW class on March 27th 2011 we dove the Breakwater. I have dove this site at times when the viz was over 40 feet and the wildlife was spectacular, if you want a seal or sea lion encounter this is the place. They are all over the place. The reason I pen this note is to advise all divers to avoid at all cost the deli across from the dive shop. The owners do not like diver's money. They will be rude to you if you do not spend enough and take up their seats. Believe me I have seen it happen. They so embarrassed some friends of ours they got up and walked out never to return. There are other places to eat just down the street towards Cannery Row.

04/18/2010 Scuba Todd (Avg: 3.65 Review) - Dove San Carlos Beach, Breakwater Friday April 16th 2010. Great day because it was a week day, no crowds and glassy. Could see down to the bottom of the sand and reefs from the Coast Guard pier. Viz was easy 30-45 feet on this day. Best viz diving I have ever experienced in Monterey Bay. Saw lots of sealife, nudibranch, Sea Stars, and even a seal came to check us out and play. Mid beach and mid reef. Lots to see. On a clear day just lean back on your back, look up thru the kelp and wait for the action to come to you! First dive was a long surface swim along the breakwater to Marker 9 on the breakwater wall. Dropped into 55 feet of water and dove the wall. Lots of Sea Stars, Tube anemones, Giant fish, Sea cucumbers, Sand Dollars and even Sea Lions! Nice kelp forest clinging to the rocks but algae bloom reduced viz to 15- 20 feet in some spots.

04/11/2010 Nick Copeland (Avg: 4.63 Review) - One of my favorite dive sites in Monterey. Don't dive here during the weekend, too many idiots kicking up sand! I see more animals/fish at this site than any other dive site in Monterey. I recommend starting the dive at the middle Reef (center cove, kelp bed). Cruising over the sand flat (towards the wall) and diving along the wall, back to the beach. Vis. Averages 15', I have seen vis. At 45'. Yeah!!!

03/17/2010 Bluestar (Avg: 3.39 Review) - This is my first dive without an instructor. My buddy and I were very excited yet anxious. We planned a very simple dive, at the location of our check-out dives, with a very simple mission. We were gonna swim to a spot, go straight down, hunt for seashells, surface, and swim back. We came back to San Carlos beach, entered from the far west end, and head diagonally (NW) out for about 60 yards. That put us at about the spot where I saw 2 rockfish last week. We headed down to about 30'. There are more rocks and vegetation in this part of the ocean. Visibility was about 7-8'. During check-out dives we were scrambling just to keep up with the instructor so we really did not get a chance to enjoy the ocean bottom. This time we pretty much hung out within a 20' radius, so we had chance to take a good look around. I felt I was in an aquarium. We peeked between the rocks and in the nooks, and scouted sea floors. I saw even more rockfish this time, mostly about 14' long. I tried to grab them but they were too fast. Oh I imagined shooting them someday. We hunted for sea shells, but there weren't too many interesting shells, mostly the clam type commonly seen at supermarkets. There were some sea urchin shells which is kind of interesting -- they looked like the ball from an old IBM typewriter. Unfortunately we did not bring a bag and had to hold them in hand, and ended up crushing them. We surfaced at 1000 lbs of air just to be safe. Simple dive but very exciting for us, since we were on our own for the first time. By the way the halibut we saw last week was a 10" baby one, not 10'.

03/10/2010 Bluestar (Avg: 3.23 Review) - This time I saw two rockfish and one 10' halibut!! The 100 yards or so along the harbor jetty has no fish probably because of all the traffic and class activities going on. This time we swam out then turned left to the areas in front of the Cannery Row buildings, where there are more rocks and reef, and I saw two rockfish. Ocean was calm, entry was very easy, but still the visibility was not too good even at 35' of water; maybe just 5-6'. Finished two dives in the morning when it was cold and cloudy; then on the way home the bright warm sun came out. Oh well…

02/28/2010 Bluestar (Avg: 2.68 Review) - We did our check-out dive here today. This is my very first impression of the bottom of the ocean, and that impression was not too good. We saw no fish, just a whole bunch of starfish that don't move, and a bunch of unattractive anemones that reminds me of slugs in my garden. Where are the rockfish??

12/11/2009 Steven L. Farr (Avg: 4.01 Review) - I did two dives off the Monterey breakwater (San Carlos Beach) on 12/9/2009. The water temp. was around 55 degrees F. Parking is very close to the entry, which always makes diving a shore easier. The first dive was on the East side of the beach in about 40 feet of water. There are a lot of sea stars and anemones. I was able to get some nice video of a jelly fish cruising along around 30ft. The second dive was off the West end of the beach. After a bit of a surface swim you can drop in and head out at a compass heading of approx. 330 degrees to 50 ft. That will take you out to the metridium anemone field. Overall its a nice site, lots of life and some neat rock formations too. Just be careful not to get tangled in all the sea weed on your surface swim.

06/29/2009 Andrew at Oakland (Avg: 3.12 Review) - Went to Monterey/Breakwater on 6/27, seemed to be a typical 'spring/summer' dive. Visibility was maybe 8 feet at the bottom, 3 feet in the water column on the way down. Swell was minimal, but the beach was absolutely packed with checkout classes. Water was 57 @ the top and 55 @ 30-40 ft. Weather was incredible so with a 7 mil suit and 5 mil hoodie, it was extremely comfortable. This is an easy dive to 'get your gills wet' after not diving for a while, or just an easy dive if you are looking for a quick one. It's very hit or miss at Breakwater, but it's always a good standby.

05/01/2009 Jerry Burawski (Avg: 3.58 Review) - I've been here when you're 1 of a 100 divers. Not fun. Today we had the ocean to ourselves. Bring plenty of weight because you usually don't go deeper than 30', with most of the dive about 20'. Saw 2 otters and a few harbor seals from above the water, but no one wanted to play today. Healthy kelp and lots of crabs, starfish and snails if your patient. Because it's so shallow, you can finish you day with an 80 minute dive and walk 60' to your car. They have a warm water shower. Good to clean your gear. Fun dive.

10/22/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 2.91 Review) - (no comment)

08/14/2008 Philip Roberts (Avg: 3.18 Review) - Good beginning dive site. Average viz of 20 ft in the spring and fall, falling to closer to 5 or 10 ft in the summer. Max depth of 30 ft. Reef with kelp on the left side of the dive site with a breakwater structure along the right side. Chance to see California Sea Lions, Pacific Octopus, Lingcod, various flatfishes, and lots of inverts like starfishes and crabs.

07/12/2007 Edward J. Palumbo (Avg: 4.13 Review) - My son, Daniel, and I visited this site in early July (2007), and stopped at a nearby dive shop for information on the area. Restrooms and hot showers are close by, though they require quarters to operate (and are well worth it!). We returned to dive and staged our gear on some concrete steps nearby. There are machines nearby to dispense parking permits, which should be displayed on the instrument panel in convenient view, and vehicles are checked repeatedly by traffic enforcement officers. We appreciated the gradual slope from the beach, easy entry and exit despite light surf and surge. There was a certification class being conducted some distance away. The bottom was no deeper than 27 feet, and our air lasted a while. Water temp, according to my thermometer, was 57-58 degrees and it was a warm, sunny afternoon with a gentle breeze. While not a great day to observe a broad spectrum of the area's marine life, we found a generous number of bat and ochre starts, some surf perch, and a number of snails with smooth brown, tapered shells, measuring about 3cm in length. The highlight of my day were three sea otters, a male, a female and a pup about 5-6 months old, not 20 meters from shore. We observed for a more than 15 minutes, then I approached them slowly on the surface until I was 12-15 feet away. They were aware of me and showed no signs of stress or concern. The male swam closer and dove beneath me, turned upside-down and examined me, then circled around me playfully. I turned to follow it with my head and it closely approached my mask, emitted a stream of bubbles, and this interaction went on for several minutes until he tired of the game. As I swam back to the beach, my son called, "Behind you!" I turned to see the male leisurely following me, my body-length behind, and I was candidly surprised that he showed no apprehension about interacting with divers. Locals told me that sea otters are familiar with divers and often exhibit curious and playful behavior like this. I've had the opportunity to interact with harbor seals like that, but this was a new experience, and another reason I enjoy being a diver.

07/09/2007 Ben Steigerwald (Avg: 4.42 Review) - This is a great beach to learn to dive at! The waves were small, and there was very little current. I would prefer to go during the winter when there is less algae in the water. There was lots of plant life and we saw several crabs-- there were even otters swimming around in the area.

12/03/2006 Aaron Warren (Avg: 4.20 Review) - I went out for a two tank solo to take some pictures today. Water was 49 degrees, viz was 10'-15' in the kelp and 15'-20' in the sand. Lots of fish and crabs out, blue, grass, kelp, calico and black and yellow rockfish. Also coalline sculpin, blackeye goby and speckled sanddab. Kelp crabs, decorator crabs, sheep crab and slender crabs. Also lots of slugs and snails. And a 7'-8' dead sea lion at 28' being reclaimed by dozens of starfish and a sunflower star. I will be posting pictures at my website www.kelpdiving.com.

10/23/2006 Josh Tiumalu (Avg: 3.22 Review) - This is a nice place to dive, especially if you are a beginner diver. It is very easy to get in and out of the water, and the conditions are usually fair. There is not too much water movement here so you wont get washed around too much. Nice kelp forests and a lot of marine life to enjoy.

10/18/2006 Stephen from CA (Avg: 3.31 Review) - We went out for a night dive. The sky was cloud/fog and blocked out the last quarter moon. This was a busy site for night diving. We ran into two groups underwater. Overall it was a fun dive. The bioluminescence was spectacular!

08/26/2006 James in Spokane (Avg: 4.52 Review) - The boat I booked cancelled but I was resigned to diving so I did four dives in the Breakwater Cove and all four were much, much better than I expected. It's easy to get in the water here, a short swim out to where the dives begin, air fills within walking distance of the site, tons of stuff to sea underwater with good vis and little or no current on the two days I dove here. I saw giant kelp (first time for me as we don't have this stuff in Washington), sea lions, octopus, diving cormorants (down to 45') nudibranchs of all sizes and shapes, a host of fish, and surprisingly enough no other divers! I love diving in this cove and will definitely return.

06/15/2006 Spearo30 (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Excellent dive, also a great place for a night dive to see octopus. The metridium fields are a sight to behold with great sea life and nice kelp forests. Just don't patronize the deli there in the parking lot. Service is really rude and the people who run the place almost seem to hate divers. It's weird considering they are operating near the ocean, too. I suggest they think about closing down and doing something they like.

06/12/2006 Lydia Hailu (Avg: 3.45 Review) - First time cold water-shore diver. I did not like the crowded scene on the lawn and down in the water by the pier. I did a second dive following an old cannery pipe on the left side of the beach to an amazing site where we saw a cluster of very large Metridium senile (Plumose Anemones). There is also plenty of sea life found under and over the old pipe. I really loved my first cold water diving experience here.

11/28/2005 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.23 Review) - I have dove Breakwater many times in the past. I consider it a good place to dive, and it is especially good when the weather kicks up at other dive sites in Monterey. I first started out kicking out into the kelp and diving the rock formations there, but later I began to surface swim out past the bathrooms on the jetty, drop down, and dive back to shore. Nice place to dive. Good life next to the breakwater, especially on good days. Bring quarters for parking and get there early on the weekends.

09/30/2005 Rahul (Avg: 3.02 Review) - I got certified here and have been going back ever since. It's a great place to dive "dry". The water does get chilly and sometimes visibility can be a bummer. If the conditions are good, this is an excellent dive spot with lots of cold water critters. Also, as they say, if you can dive Monterey you can dive anywhere.

08/26/2005 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 4.59 Review) - Breakwater is an awesome place to dive. I went expecting to solo dive both times, but was lucky enough to join groups each time. We had a great experience. You have an almost 100% chance of seeing sea lions (if you go out far enough). Warning: there is a man that hangs out here (older and scruffy, I know his name but to protect his privacy probably should not mention it). Local divers have warned me about him. If you are going in solo, he will probably approach you (as he did me). You want to avoid diving with this guy. I told him I was meeting other people out there and he left me alone. Unfortunately, I believe he may suffer from mental illness. Other then that, this is a must dive spot if you are in Monterey.

07/29/2005 CA Diver (Avg: 3.51 Review) - Fantastic all year round site. Inexpensive, casual & easy, yet you will find surprises. I descend next to the little house after the bath room. The bottom, at about 42 ft, is where I found nudibranch and a bunch of tiny shrimp. Perfect super macro picture opportunity. Just hover around for an hour and come back.

05/07/2005 Steve Jackson (Avg: 4.28 Review) - Breakwater is a year-round site that has offerings for every level of diver. Though the visibility can be poor at times, the vast amount of sea life makes any dive here memorable.

01/12/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 4.45 Review) - Break water is an excellent place for beginning divers, it also has its advantages for divers trying to improve their skills and take classes. If you are just in the area and wanting to dive, it has a large amount of wild life and plant life to look at as long as you go out about 150 yards from shore. This site is also very nice since the bottom is not that deep and gives you a lot of time to look around and not worry about air pressure.

08/31/2004 Marilyn Adams-George (Avg: 3.56 Review) - This is a good spot to use during the week when there are less people there. Some classes are there on weekends. I especially like the amenities, easy to park and restrooms handy. Beach clean. Good place for beginners or older folks. Great critters to see by snorkeling or diving. Saw a few critters in shallows and on rocks. Will be back!

05/12/2004 Bill Benton (Avg: 3.75 Review) - I was surprised that there was so much life on the breakwater rocks. Scallop, sea stars, crab, fish on and on. Took about 30 u/w pics in the 30-40 vis. Nice easy dive with food and air within walking distance.

03/21/2004 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.77 Review) - This is the most popular dive site in Monterey. On Saturdays the parking lots fill up by 10AM, so get there early. There are a number of dives including the kelp beds straight out, the breakwater wall, and the Metridium field to the South. There is an amazing biodiversity here, with sea stars, anemones, fish, crabs and even seals and sea lions all living amidst the kelp forests! Great diving!

02/14/2004 S McCoy (Avg: 3.32 Review) - Great place to dive, especially for beginners or classes. However if you missed something during your cert dive, go back! There is a lot more waiting for you.

12/18/2003 Jesse Rorabaugh (Avg: 3.53 Review) - The first time I went snorkeling here was a great disappointment. I swam down the beach into the kelp forest in the direction of the aquarium. This was a big mistake, visibility was poor, and all I saw was a few rockfish. After that I went to Otter Cove, and was more impressed. The second trip however I went away from the aquarium along the stone breakwater. That was a much better dive, despite the still poor visibility. Fish were much more common, as well as red and orange anenomies carpeting the rocks, and sea lions. I would definitely recommend this dive for rough days when Coral Street is not divable. It is very crowded, but when you are free diving, it makes you kind of warm and fuzzy to know you are diving as deep as the scuba people there.

09/14/2003 Indrek (Avg: 3.62 Review) - The site is good. Cold shower and restroom facilities are on site and this is already more than in most places around north-cal. Entry is easy, but you have to hug the breakwater to enter in the end of summer, because the kelp is growing rapidly and by end of summer covers mst of the entry area (spring is the best time to dive there). Visibility is most of the time bad, but you really have to check local tide data to pinpoint the exact time when the tide is in or out and you will have a great vis dive. Also because this is number 1 spot to dive among all diving instructors around it is also best if you can dive here on a weekday (weekend is usually 100+ extra divers around and as they are beginners they tend to dust the sad up to block the vis even more) then you can enjoy it even more. To consided parking and tides I recommend you get here around 6-6:30am to get a good spot next to grassy area and also get the best vis. Have fun…

08/15/2003 Larry 1 (Avg: 3.89 Review) - I like breakwater. It is the first place I tried to dive in the COLD waters of California. Went during the Red tide and conditions were really bad. Still, with Cannery row right there, it was easy to as least have a good day. I did get to dive it eventually and had a great time. The kelp forests are awesome! Good place for beginners. Happy diving!

08/04/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 2.81 Review) - This site gets packed on the weekends with classes. If possible I would pick another site if you are an experienced diver. Otherwise, this can be a good dive to get acquainted with cold water diving. It's very safe with instructors and tourists everywhere to bail you out if you get in trouble. In the sandy areas at night many small octopus can be found. Also along the rocks I've seen brittle stars come out at night.

06/30/2003 Eric 'Spoon' Carvaho (Avg: 3.57 Review) - Also know in my group as blackwater beach. Great place for beginners due to the easy access to the beach, and the nice grassy area to rest in between dives. Also, a lot of friendly shops right along coast guard pier with a scuba shop, and a cute little deli. BEWEARE of parking. Monterey seems to be quick at handing out parking tickets to expired parking tickets.

08/18/2002 Ben Burnsed, Jr. (Avg: 3.76 Review) - This was an excellent "first-time" snorkeling experience, lots of plant life, starfish, a few crabs and fish as well. I did not scuba but saw 3 other people scuba diving...a lot of kelp growing about 30-50 ft off shore, which I did not explore due to its thickness but seemed good for scuba. The water was slightly less clear than Monterey State Beach but the abundance of underwater life made it worthwhile.

03/03/2002 Chris Talley (Avg: 3.36 Review) - If the conditions around the rest of the bay are bad, you might be able to salvage a dive out at Breakwater. This is the place where almost all Open Water classes do their check out dives so it can be busy. If you follow the breakwater out, you can find the usual Monterey fish life along with a few sea lions. This is also a great place for night diving. Tons of octopus out at night.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CN1301


Parking at Breakwater Cove 

You'll find metered parking here, and there is a larger lot further toward the water.




Overview at Breakwater Cove 

The beginning of the breakwater is a perfect place to park and organize your gear.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CN1303


Entry at Breakwater Cove 

There is a set of stairs just to the right. Notice the large rocks as you enter the water, and be careful as you make your way out to the deep.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


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

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.43
Bottom Conditions:  3.50
Reef Conditions:  3.14
Animal Life:  3.45
Plant Life:  3.71
Facilities:  4.38
Solitude 2.29
Roads:  4.10
*Site Average:  3.58

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.71
Beginner Scuba:  4.38
Intermediate Scuba:  3.74
Advanced Scuba:  3.19
Night diving Scuba:  3.71

Number of reviews for this site: 42


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