Review Date AVG ShoreDiving Site
04/17/2012 4.03 Van Damme State Park California North, USA West
This is a belated report, but better late than never. I have mixed feelings about this site. What you save on not having to climb down a steep cliff, you blow on having to walk or swim very far to find abs. I headed straight out from the center of the beach and within 75 yards are all sandy bottom; no rocks or abs. The kelp is so thick, it's hard to swim parallel to coast, so I had to swim back to shore, walk south, then enter again. Walking on sand with all the gear is exhausting! I may give this site another try in 5 years.
04/06/2011 3.00 Gerstle Cove California North, USA West
I came here for an ab dive but decided not to get into the water due to water conditions. If you are looking to ab dive, be advised the very protected main Gerstle cove, which is the north cove pictured below, is a marine sanctuary. No ab diving is allowed there. The south Gerstle Cove, which is accessed via a small road just before getting to the day-use parking lot, opens to the northwest and gets the blunt of the usual swells. Ab diving is allowed here but the conditions are frequently rough.
11/24/2010 3.82 Fort Ross North California North, USA West
In the month of November I have visited this site 5 times. I will condense my experiences into this one report. Reading previous reviews, I skipped this site for a long time. On one trip early November I was 'kicked' over here by a Reef Campground park ranger due to big waves there, and I discovered how good this site is. Because it is so protected, this site gets a lot of pressure; maybe that is why some reviewers graded this site very low. There are in fact no abs in plain sight in the north cove. But there are plenty of abs in the kelp under the rocks. There are even big ones here and there. My trip yesterday 11/23/2010 yielded a 9.25' ab weighing 5.4 lbs right from the middle of the cove, in 20' of water. On average I find abs every 3 dive-downs; legal abs about every 9-10 dive-downs. That is pretty good considering I can only hold breath for 30 seconds max and usually only 20 seconds. If I just want to get my limit of legal abs I can do it in 30 minutes here, but I usually spend 2 hours in water hunting for the big 3rd ab. I think I would not enjoy the dives as much if big abs are all over the sea floor in plain view waiting to be picked. I like a little challenge finding them, and battling to dislodge them. I frequently have to give up on big abs that are too hard to get because they are too deep in a hole or sandwiched between two rocks. My only complaint about this site is the big vertical distance to hike. Many times I wanted to tank-dive to spear fish, but after ab dive I just got tired of this climb with gears. I love this site so much, that I have not had any inclination to explore other places.
11/18/2010 3.89 Fort Ross North California North, USA West
This is still a great place to dive for abs. It is November now and I still limit out in 30 minutes, in 10' of water barely 30 yards from shore inside the cove. Somebody should repair the trail a little bit; a few short stretches are pretty steep and slippery.
09/04/2010 4.15 Gerstle Cove California North, USA West
2010/08/28 I free-dived here for abalone for the very first time. Before I was an 'advanced shore-picker' -- diving only in 5' of water but I do submerge completely into water. This is the first time I'm truly free-diving. Unfortunately I got my weights wrong. I experimented to get the right weight at my neighborhood pool, but neglected to consider salt water has more buoyancy. So I was unable to dive down! I saw them abalones, they're right there, but could not dive down!! Damn it! I tried holding on to kelp, holding on to rocks, swimming with my hands, to no use. Some people have sinking problem but I had floating problem. Finally I got tired from all the swimming and just gave up. I will be correctly prepared next time. The bottom looks very lush. Lots of vegetation, lots of boulders, perfect abalone habitat. I did not see a whole lot of fish, though. I saw a couple of bluish fish; probably some kind of perch. Then again I only swam in about 200 square yards of area. I was also testing out my underwater camera for the first time in ocean. In the struggle to dive I accidentally switched to photos instead of videos, so my first underwater videography project was also a complete failure. The few photos all came out blurry. May I suggest Shorediving.com add video capability? I anticipate having videos to share in the future.
03/17/2010 3.39 Breakwater Cove California North, USA West
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 3.23 Breakwater Cove California North, USA West
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 2.68 Breakwater Cove California North, USA West
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??