Overview of South Crescent Bay

South Crescent Bay

California South
USA West


South Crescent Bay offers a protected cove area worthy of two tanks! Rocky points, canyons, and reefs make this an ideal habitat for the area's marine life.

Directions: Make a left on Cliff about 1 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. You'll see the sign below.


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07/02/2012 Jason NYC (Avg: 3.92 Review) - First time here ever and we picked a very busy Saturday morning. We followed some nice gents from the SODC (South Orange Dive Club) who meet at the Von's Grocery store every morning at 9am on Saturdays in Laguna. Thanks guys! Free street parking was not easy to find so we had a long walk in full gear to the stairs leading down to this nice beach/cove where you can choose to go to the right or left. It seems every diver went to the right side so we did too. The right side also seemed to offer a bit more protection from the surf that wasn't too bad at about 2ft or so. Just follow the reef 'wall' out and then when it turns right so do you. Just keep the very distinct sand line on your left and you can't get lost here. Viz was pretty good at 15+, 62f at 38 ft max, no current to speak of and the ever present Laguna surge that calmed down a bit once we turned the corner to the right heading towards the big rock visible from shore where all the birds and seals hang out. Tons of life and all the regular SoCal critters, kelp etc... made the party. Even though the parking and walk to the water can be long, this is a wonderful cove with full facilities and a great spot if you have a family to bring a long.

04/22/2012 David S (Avg: 3.99 Review) - I've been here three times with a total of 7 dives. Very easy to access and, for SoCal OC beach areas, this is probably the best. Been to Shaw's 5 times and this site is pretty large for exploring. It has some neat rock formations and crevasses to pass through. Some of the life we saw were Sea lions (17 at one time!), a horn shark, a 4ft moray eel, lobster, large crabs, and the common temperate fish like garibaldi, senoritas, opal eye, blacksmith, painted greenlings, and kelp bass. Really a fun site for beginners or intermediate divers as it's more difficult to get into trouble. Best of conditions were visibility at 25-30ft. Worst vis was 3-15ft with heavy surge and surf. If you drop on the sand and the vis is poor, head for seal rock or the area in between the shore and seal rock. It's a little more protected from the silty surge if present, and will make your trip not such of a waste. Average depth is 30 feet around seal rock. Http://youtu.be/wlGLnDMZHmw

03/06/2011 Doug from Cucamonga (Avg: 3.98 Review) - Been here numerous times, and this is one of my favorite Laguna sites. This site is good for snorkeling/freediving but is better appreciated on SCUBA. Entry is fairly easy, just enter to the West by the second-to-last staircase and head out straight (south). You can submerge as soon as you get near the rocks on the west and there will be rocks/plants/fish to see. If you swim past the rocks on the west and then head out SW, there is lots to see. At first there will just be a bunch of rocks and urchins but keep heading south and when you get to about 25-30ft there are huge boulders with lots of growth, kelp, lots of fish, starfish etc. Also if you head out towards seal rock you will likely encounter sea lions who will be as interested in you as you are in them. If you're feeling really adventurous you can head out to Deadman's Reef (look up maps online). DMR is a huge rock formation in about 50ft with lots of fish...definitely a great spot but make sure you're up for the lengthy surface swim and return swim...it's pretty draining. Dive this site a few times to really see all that it has to offer; overall this is an excellent spot.

07/29/2010 Jesse Rorabaugh (Avg: 3.76 Review) - Been here three times, every time with the intent to try some spear fishing at Deadman's reef. The first time I was washed down the beach so far that I had to get out of the water in Shaw's Cove. Never even saw the reef. The second time, I gave up on the reef when I was way out there. We turned around, and all of a sudden ran into the reef. It was really pretty, but we had been in the water four hours at that point so we quickly got cold and went in. The last time I got to spend a little time on the reef, but despite the relatively calm conditions was washed off of the reef by current. It really is remarkable how much current that reef can see even in what appears to be calm conditions. I am not sure I will try again to make it out unless I am using a Kayak. The North Reef on the beach is pretty nice though. The fish are quite spooked by divers so don't expect easy spear fishing, but there are quite a few small kelp bass and perch.

07/28/2008 Dustin (Avg: 3.58 Review) - (No Comment)

03/19/2008 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.40 Review) - We dove Crescent Bay from the second access point- the one with the smooth sidewalk. Nice looking dive but tried going in at the middle of the beach and it was low vis. We should have gone to the north and near the rocks. Great spot with showers. Good parking if you get there early.

12/09/2006 Troy Simmons (Avg: 3.66 Review) - This is a really nice beach I dove, especially out and around seal rock. Just stay away from the rock a little as the seals will attack while protecting their young. It was a really fun dive but the surface swim was long to seal rock. Overall it was a fun dive.

04/03/2005 Chris Groll (Avg: 3.41 Review) - There were 5 of us diving at this site today as a group, and we were lucky enough to experience some dolphins frolicking just outside the surf area. They would dive down to check us out with a few circles and head bobs, then take off again. What a fun time!! As mentioned in previous reviews, there is a very nice reef area to the north side of the cove, easy entry and exit. One warning: if there is any surge at all it gets very strong nearing the shallower rocks. We saw a giant Sheep Crab, about 2 1/2 ft wide at the legs, lots of Garibaldi, lots of purple urchins, Ginat Spined Stars, Sheepshead and other numerous sea life. Good heck-out site.

03/07/2005 John Kibler (Avg: 3.52 Review) - Dove Dead Man's on March 6th. Only one other group of divers out that morning. Visibility was typical for the area. More garibaldi than I've ever seen in one place. Very enjoyable, although its hard to find the spot without someone who's been there before. To drop Dead Man's, surface swim northwest until you see a flagpole among the coastal homes to the northeast centered between the two guano encrusted rocks. It's about a 40' drop.

02/06/2005 Erik Wade (Avg: 3.55 Review) - South Crescent is a very fun little maze to check out. The reef is adjacent to Shaw's Cove and I have found a huge amount of life swimming about. Keep your eyes peeled in the cracks and crevices for eel and octopi. South Crescent has a great little maze to check out. The reef is adjacent to Shaw's Cove and I have found a huge amount of life swimming about. Keep your eyes peeled in the cracks and crevices for eel and octopi. This location offers an assortment of nice dive sites including: South Crescent, North Crescent, Sea Rock (I suggest this on a clear warm day when they are more active and playful), Dead Man's Reef, and Pinnacle. Keep in mind, Dead Man's, Pin, and the Rock are a mile swim minimum. Depths range from 10-40ft at the reef at South and North Crescent to a max of 50-65ft at Dead Man's. In an effort to prevent any soiled wetsuits, please note that the seals do get very playful at times and love to suddenly appear right next to you. I mention this only because I have witnessed countless divers emitting a brown cloud when they notice a sea lion within arms reach having a little fun with them. My best advice is to take every dive here slow, so you won't miss the stuff that makes this a great spot.

06/01/2004 Frank Wimberly (Avg: 3.44 Review) - It's a great dive. Many divers go to Deadman's Reef or Seal Rock, but check out the eastern side of Crescent Bay. There is a maze of wide crevices that will easily accommodate two divers swimming side-by-side.

05/31/2004 Dan and Rob Fox (Avg: 3.03 Review) - My son and I dove North Crescent Bay trying to make it out to Seal Rock. The long swim out was just too far for the conditions. We dropped down to about 40 feet a 100 yards from the rock. The bottom was reef like with some sandy patches. We saw Garibaldi, urchins, cucumbers and some kelp. The vis was about 8 feet, the water temp was 53 at below the thermo cline and the surge was really strong. Get there early parking is limited and there are a lot of steps to the beach. I would like to go again when conditions are better.

05/20/2004 Sven Manhouser (Avg: 4.09 Review) - I saw a huge BEARDED clam and lots of mussels on shore. A whole gaggle of sea lions roared at my entry into their most private of places. An overall blast!

04/15/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 3.61 Review) - I've been diving Crescent for many years, because this site has a lot to offer. Deadmans reef, Seal Rock and Pinnacles are more advanced type dives but can be done by less experienced divers, as long as they are accompanied by more experienced divers who have dived this area before. Average vis. in winter is approx. 15ft with avg. temps around 55 degrees. I have experienced 50ft vis and temps in the mid 60's. Like most good dive sites in Southern California, you need to go to the beach and check the conditions for your self! I would have missed out on some great diving had based my decision to dive solely on dive reports from local shops and or publications, etc. If you're in need of a buddy, there are several great dive clubs in the local area that welcome new divers of all levels of experience with open arms. You don't even have to become a member to dive with the clubs, in most cases.

09/15/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.78 Review) - I dive this site on a regular basis. It has great scenery and plenty of life, micro and macro. Dead Man's reef and around to the Sea Lion rock are for more advanced divers, especially when conditions are rough, but are great dives. Average visibility is 10-12 feet, but I have seen it as high as 25 and as low as 2 feet.

07/05/2002 Jeff 1 (Avg: 2.79 Review) - A nice dive site. Very popular with dive schools. Not much underwater scenery in the middle of the cove and visibility is poor near the rocks.

03/24/2002 Anonymous (Avg: 3.21 Review) - There are sea lions to dive with.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS0101


Parking at South Crescent Bay 

There is limited parking along the road, but it's normally not a problem.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS0102


Trail Head at South Crescent Bay 

It's an easy hike to the beach.

Right Entry



Right Entry at South Crescent Bay 

A nice expanse of beach with an exciting point to the right ---

Left Entry



Left Entry at South Crescent Bay 

And to the left! Check with a local dive shop when assessing the seasonal conditions.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  South Crescent Bay  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.76
Bottom Conditions:  3.53
Reef Conditions:  3.47
Animal Life:  3.76
Plant Life:  3.00
Facilities:  4.00
Solitude 3.47
Roads:  3.88
*Site Average:  3.57

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.00
Beginner Scuba:  3.47
Intermediate Scuba:  3.71
Advanced Scuba:  3.59
Night diving Scuba:  3.53

Number of reviews for this site: 17


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