Review Date AVG ShoreDiving Site
12/04/2011 3.87 Robert Badham California Mid, USA West
I went to this site for a night dive in late November. We were snorkeling for lobsters on a day when visibility at Shaw's cove was reported to be 15-20 feet. At night in November parking is not an issue. You can park on the street and walk down a short, rather steep path. From what I could see it was possible to walk down the beach quite a ways towards Crystal cove and access some more remote locations, but never having been to the site we just entered at the tiny beach at the bottom of the trail. Showers are next to the restrooms which is a nice bonus. On the plus side I actually did see some lobsters ranging in depth from perhaps 5 to 15 feet. During that two hours I probably saw a dozen lobster although most were short. I also saw a moray eel and some sting rays. On the minus side, the kelp and eel grass were particularly difficult to navigate quickly. So the lobsters had good hiding places and were hard to find. A persistent person could probably pull a couple out but it will be a challenge. Perhaps if you swim farther from the easy shore entry numbers increase. Visibility was poor. We probably had ten feet of visibility which was half what was reported at Shaw's cove. Surf wasn't bad, but this was a fairly exposed site so I expect it can be bad.
10/23/2011 3.43 Corona del Mar California Mid, USA West
This was my second night dive. I decided that I wanted to free dive for lobsters and looking at Google maps this seemed like a pretty good place to try. I quickly determined that it was not. I saw six other divers looking for lobsters and none of them caught any. I saw a total of five in the hour I was there but all were well under legal size. If you go there looking for a beginning night dive this place is really nice though. It was very calm with decent visibility and quite a bit of sea life. I saw several stingrays, lots of baitfish, some small sleeping game fish, an octopus, dozens of small crabs and so on.
08/27/2011 3.73 Heisler Park California South, USA West
I broke my spear gun and decided that I should just snorkel around this reserve for the afternoon. I dove at the very south end of the park near where the 133 dead ends into the 1. The start of the dive was pretty uneventful. Despite calm conditions it was really murky. Eventually I figured out that the place to be was on the inside of a small chain of rocks 100 to 200 feet out. The largest of these shows up on satellite image as being the largest rock in the reserve which makes the location easy to return to. These rocks helped block the waves which improved visibility. The place was crawling with small sharks. I saw at least twenty leopard sharks, a horn shark, and a shovelnose shark. They were all pretty small, three feet being typical. Still, I saw more sharks there than in all my other diving combined. There also was some other impressive marine life. The cracks in the rocks are full of sea urchins, lobster and even a few large abalone. Additionally I saw a baby halibut and a large number of perch and kelp bass. The water was shallow. I never hit water deeper than about twenty feet, although I did not go out all that far. All the sharks I saw were in only eight or ten feet of water. Therefore this is a better place to snorkel than scuba dive, although on a calm day it would make a reasonable beginner scuba site.
08/02/2010 4.40 Crystal Cove State Park California Mid, USA West
The walk down to the beach carrying all my gear wore me out. Not as challenging as say Reverse Cove in central California because there are stairs. I however did not park near the stairs and wandered all over the place looking for them. The entry was challenging. Even on a day where surf was below average it was a fight to get out. This was partially my fault though. I got in at a part of the beach that was rock not sand. Climbing on invisible rocks is really quite difficult, and at one point I hit my knee pretty hard. Visibility was poor. It was a day with 10-15 foot of visibility at Shaw's Cove. I would say that it was only 10 feet here. Close to shore it was no more than 5. Despite all of this, it is my third or forth favorite free diving site in California. It does not quite beat Coral Street in Monterey, or Reverse Cove in Big Sur, but it at least beats anything in Laguna. When I dive in Laguna it feels fished out. I have tried spearfishing there several times and after probably 15-20 hours of diving have only pulled out one fish and only seen a few more that I would have shot at. Here however it felt like a whole different place. I saw many reasonably sized Sheepshead, Opaleye, Sand Bass, and Perch. They are pretty skittish but it makes a reasonable intermediate spearfishing site. Judging by the guy in the full cameo wetsuit and big teak speargun it may even be a good advanced spearfishing site. A few notes: Parking was $15. The previous reviewer wasn't kidding. Fish and Game really does watch this place closely. Expect to get your catch looked over. All of Laguna Beach is about to become a Marine Reserve. This site is outside the boundary of that reserve. I expect that next year it will be fished out as all the diving from Laguna moves to this site. However in five years I strongly suspect this will be an amazing site again. Once the Marine Reserve is established, fish leaving the reserve should sustain it. Watch out for boats. I saw at least a half dozen fishing and diving boats outside the kelp bed.
07/29/2010 2.57 Wood Cove California South, USA West
Came out to this site once last March. It seemed pretty dead. This might be because I am used to Northern California diving with a whole lot more fish but I was spear fishing and only saw one decent fish all day. A Cabezon. Conditions were rough, I was tossed all over the place. I don't envision myself coming out here. Places like Shaw's Cove and Crescent Cove seems a whole lot nicer in every respect.
07/29/2010 3.76 South Crescent Bay California South, USA West
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.
11/15/2009 3.62 Shaws Cove California South, USA West
This was my first Southern California dive. I had come hoping for Lobster, but within a few minutes it was pretty clear I was simply not going to see any. The site is just too popular for any game diving other than sea urchin. Although this was a daytime dive and I have never caught a lobster so don't consider me much of an authority on the subject. Other than that, this was a really great dive. The visibility was a good 30' and there were huge schools of bait fish, many Garibaldi, thousands of Sea Urchins, a Sheepshead or two, schools of Opaleye, a large Bat Ray and my dive buddy saw a large fish he believes was a yellowtail.
01/13/2008 3.99 Reverse Cove California North, USA West
This is my favorite place to free dive. The ground seemed littered with abalone shells (unusual for southern CA), and the visibility is reasonable. Depth is under 20 feet over a huge area. Spear fishing is as good as you are likely to find without a boat. Mostly Rockfish and Perch, but some Cabazone, Greenlings, and I did manage to see one Ling Cod although of course when it wasn't in season. If you are really adventurous and it is really calm, it is possible to swim from this protected cove all the way to Soberanes point a half mile or so away. This is probably the most isolated territory you can get to without a boat. This leaves at least some hope for some really big fish. If conditions are not perfect, simply don't dive here. It is more protected than some of the nearby sites from a northerly swell, but this is Big Sur diving, not Monterey. I actually once found a rusted out spear gun here because some poor diver went in over his ability and lost it! That said, wait for a really calm day and try out this site. Also, don't go here with any gear you aren't OK with taking down Rock Faces. It is not bad enough for a reasonably in shape person to need ropes, but if it were much worse you would want them.
01/13/2008 2.98 Moby Ling Cove California North, USA West
This is the best shore access of the Garrapata State Park shore diving sites. That was about the best thing I have to say about it. I was free diving, however, and this is simply not the place for it. SCUBA might be reasonably interesting as it is fairly deep and fairly isolated so there must be something interesting below the top 30 feet that I saw. The only really amazing experience I had there was encountering a group of Black Abalone. It is not every day you get to see one of those! Only dive in the best of conditions. This is Big Sur we are talking about. Dive all of Monterey and then when you are bored head to Garrapata State Park for a more wild experience. It should be noted that two dive sites actually share this parking lot. It has been a few years, but if memory serves me correctly you take the right trail to get to Moby Ling Cove, and the left trail to get to Soberanes Point. Soberanes Point is the 'double diamond expert only' site I never saw without surf. It is too deep for a free diver like me, but if you are looking for the most impressive shore diving near Monterey, that may well be it, particularly if you are a planning to hunt.
01/13/2008 1.96 East Shore Park New York, USA East
I only dove here because after years of free diving I decided to finally get SCUBA certified through Cornell University. The boat had issues, so we went here. It was nothing special in any respect but one. That they let us dive at all. There is some great diving in upstate NY, however as best as I can tell shore diving is nearly impossible! Beach access is almost non-existent. This may drive me back to this site out of lack of more interesting options within 2 hours.
08/18/2004 3.69 North Deerfield Ledges Florida, USA East
This is a pretty dive that has a wide range of tropical fish. Since I went to it I have found sites that have impressed me much more though. The main drawback of this place is simply that it was not big enough. While it is enough to keep someone interested for an hour or two, it did not seem to have the seemingly endless reefs of breakers, John Lloyd park, or Vista park. That said it is a pretty dive well worth seeing
08/18/2004 4.13 Ocean Cove California North, USA West
This is one of the easier abalone sites in northern California. The first time I went diving for them I went here, and I am sure many others shared the same experience. It is well sheltered and is normally safe to dive, although Stillwater cove is often more calm. The main drawback is the fee you must pay the campground to get in. However if you camp here you can dive for free and it is a pretty good campground.
08/18/2004 2.98 Worth avenue, Pier Debris Florida, USA East
When I went here in Jan 2004 I think it was a case of the right site, the wrong day. Getting past the surf was a difficult task, and as a California diver I do have extensive surf experience. Once I got out there vis was terrible, and I could not find what I was looking for. It did look as if the reef might be a good place to be on a nicer day however so I will probably go back if I am in Florida during the summer.
08/17/2004 3.16 Deerfield Ledges Florida, USA East
Not a bad beach, but it did not seem to have anything that some of the nearby beaches had better...
08/17/2004 3.79 John U. Lloyd Beach Park Florida, USA East
While I did not have a great dive here this is the site I most want to revisit on a day with better conditions. The reef here, while about 500yards off the shore, is seemingly endless. It stood out as the only dive I did in Jan 2004 that I would consider hunting at. I think the long swim makes it unattractive to most shore divers which allows bigger fish to thrive.
08/16/2004 4.01 Vista Park Florida, USA East
This was my second favorite dive in the Jan 2004, behind breakers. This might just have been that I dove on a calm day, however the reef here was very extensive, and the coral heads are bigger than most other dives I went on. I also saw what was my second nurse shark, which just swam calmly below me while I was sitting on the surface.
08/16/2004 3.40 Gulfstream Park Florida, USA East
This is a good snorkeling site for someone who wants to see fish. Since it is a very shallow site, max of 12 feet, I wouldn't bother with scuba. It is a site worth seeing, but there are better places in this part of Florida.
08/16/2004 4.44 The Breakers Florida, USA East
This is the best sight seeing shore dive I have done. While it is too heavily dove for game divers, it has an amazing abundance of fish, and corals right off the beach. If you are diving in this part of Florida make sure to stop here at least once.
07/26/2004 2.76 Monterey State Beach California North, USA West
I went here because I heard it was one of the best places to hunt halibut. After spending two hours free diving here, I am really not sure if that is true or not. Either I don't have the experience to be able to see one when I swim over it, or they are not here any more. The site did have a charm of its own. I had never seen as extensive of a sand dollar bed, and there were dozens of small crabs, and a single large spider crab. As for fish, there is almost nothing. Near park street, at some debris that is marked by kelp in the summer I found some small fish, and at one point a huge school of thousands of baitfish swam around me.
05/06/2004 4.10 Stillwater Beach California North, USA West
I just went to this area for the second week of abalone season. Conditions were terrible everywhere on the coast, this was the only site diveable. Visibility was less than ten feet but I still managed to get 2 abalone the first day (in less than five foot vis) and three the second in close to ten feet vis. I was amazed how many abalone were here despite how much people dive here. If you can dive 20-30 feet you will have no trouble finding abalone here, on one free dive I remember seeing five legal abalone. Even in ten foot water just off the shore there were quite a few legal ones.
01/15/2004 2.94 Carmel Point California North, USA West
This was not a great dive. I have heard that because of the rough conditions here spear fishing can be good. I did not find that to be the case however. All I saw were a few kelp, blue rockfish and perch. However I hurt my ear pretty early on, and may have just missed all the lingcod on the bottom. If conditions are good maybe this would be a fun dive. Even then though I would rather be at Coral Street, or Carmel River beach. Also just to try to clear up confusion I have heard this site called 'the copper roof house' referring to a large mansion nearby.
01/11/2004 3.71 Gerstle Cove California North, USA West
I dove here after a few disappointing hours of spear fishing at nearby Stillwater Cove. I was much more impressed with this site as a beginner spear fishing site. While I saw some big fish elsewhere they were too smart for me; here I had a chance. I was able to pull in several fish including a 30 inch Ling Cod in about 15 feet of water. I did see many abalone here, but they were out of season. As an aside note to clear up any confusion I have always seen this site named as 'Ocean Cove' in other lists of dive sites.
01/10/2004 2.90 Dania Beach Florida, USA East
This is review on the second part of Dania Beach, the one south of the pier. I went here for two reasons: I had heard there were sea turtles here, and I have been told this is an amazing lobster spot. So I swam off the shore a few hundred yards. I was told to expect bad visibility near the shore, and for it to clear up. Well, it never really cleared up as I went out. So I just turned back and went home. I was starting to see a reef, but visibility was too low to be worth staying. I would imagine if I went in summer though it would have gone better. January is a poor time for beach diving in Florida.
12/18/2003 3.53 Breakwater Cove California North, USA West
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.
12/18/2003 3.93 Carmel River North California North, USA West
I came to Carmel River Beach at what was a bad time. It was soon after a storm kicked up a whole bunch of dust so visibility was poor. However, even then it was clear, this is one of the most amazing dive sites I have ever seen. Once I got a good distance from the shore, in 25-30foot water, blue rockfish showed up by the hundreds. They lived in schools of 30+ individuals. This gave the place a lot of hope for a spear fishing location. The rockfish however were more talented than I, and I was unable to get close to any big ones, so I came home with a pair of 13 inch fish. The invertebrate life on the bottom was amazing, with large patches of red, and orange anenomies. I did not see much when I got near the shore though. I would swim straight out toward the end of the kelp bed, the closer I got to that, the more impressive the diving became.
12/18/2003 3.78 Lovers Point California North, USA West
There are actually two dive sites at the point. The first is on the south end, and is commonly known as Otter Cove, on the north side is Lovers Cove. Lovers Cove is a very calm dive with almost never any surge. Because it is currently closed to fishing, it is also full of life. My first trip here, I must have seen 40 kelp rockfish, as well as hundreds of smaller senoritas, perch, cabezone ect. I also had an encounter with an amazingly large spider crab. The second trip the rockfish seemed to have diminished in number, but it was still an impressive dive. In Otter cove there is a much more wild feel. The surf comes in a bit more there, although it is not as bad as Coral Street. This makes a good beginner spear fishing location, and is where I learned to fish. However most of the fish are small, and you will quickly want to move to another area. Some of the more interesting critters that inhabit this place, are large rays, as well as harbor seals, and otters.
12/18/2003 3.59 Stillwater Beach California North, USA West
I have dove here twice. The first time was my first attempt at abalone diving. This made a good first place to learn as it was reasonably calm that day. Visibility was about 15-20 feet. While there, I was only able to get a single legal abalone in about two hours. I had fun though. I have also learned since then that the south side of the cove seems to be a little more productive than the north side in that respect. The second trip I was attempting to spearfish while free diving. This did not go very well. Conditions were poor, maybe 10 foot visibility, and heavy surge. There were a few large black rockfish, but not very large numbers of them, and they were very skittish. I also was within inches of getting a china rockfish. I did end up going home empty handed. However, my two friends also had about the same luck, neither catching anything. I did notice that the scuba people were picking up large lingcod directly in the center of the cove, in around thirty or forty foot water.
12/17/2003 4.52 Coral Street Beach California North, USA West
I have dove most of the major sites in Monterey, and this is the one I have had the most fun at. I have seen large numbers of perch, kelp rockfish, senoritas, and opaleye, as well as some Ling Cod, black, blue, and olive rockfish, cabezone, greenling, and sheephead. Occasionally harbor seals, and sea lions have followed me around here. Spearfishing is decent, at least for a beginner. Some of the larger fish I have pulled out include a 26 inch ling cod, 20 inch opaleye, 18 and inch cabezone. Both the inside, and outside sides of the kelp bed seem to be the best fishing. Also if you swim a long ways south, like a half hour swim, it seemed to get more crowded with fish.