Monastery Beach South

California North, USA West
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advanced
Viz (last reported 783h ago)
Max Depth
40ft (unconfirmed)

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Monastery Beach South

The most picturesque dive site in the Carmel area, Monastery Beach offers spectacular diving in the rocky, kelp-packed coastline. Do not attempt this dive unless you are advanced, and are comfortable in heavy surf. Head South on Highway 1 out of Carmel. Park at the Southern end of the first roadside beach.
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Zentacle
Zentacle
Sep 21, 2021, 1:05 AM
scuba
Non-divers will certainly enjoy this beach, as well. Be careful of the surf, as breakers can pound the unwary. The surf is relatively calm on this day. Here, some divers are taking the inflatable around the point. Other divers are braving the kelp and surf.
Justin Morgan
Justin Morgan
Sep 17, 2021, 9:39 PM
scuba
9/11/2021 - We were lucky to get to go to Monastery with some others that knew the site and the entry/exit routines. My buddy and I actually skipped dive #1 (at the North end of Monastery) opting instead to observe our friends and a few other buddy pairs do their entry/exit. It was a great chance to see what it takes to get out through the surf zone as well as various examples of the possible exit scenarios. Most divers performed the Monastery Crawl to reach the beach, a few divers were able to walk out (you could see that they had nailed the timing and also braced for any wave that was chasing them towards the beach), and one diver was unfortunate enough to end up in the washing machine cycle of getting knocked down and pushed around as they tried to crawl out and eventually received some aid from buddy to drag/crawl to dry sand. Granted this was at the North where the beach is steeper, but it did emphasize all the warnings we'd read about this site. Our dive at South was really great. Great chance to practice a challenging entry/exit with regs in the mouth at all times. Swam straight out and descended to around around 20' and explored the very cool reef. Saw lots of fish which I am terrible at identifying. Looking forward to coming back here soon
Justin Morgan
Justin Morgan
Sep 17, 2021, 9:38 PM
snorkel
9/11/2021 - We were lucky to get to go to Monastery with some others that knew the site and the entry/exit routines. My buddy and I actually skipped dive #1 (at the North end of Monastery) opting instead to observe our friends and a few other buddy pairs do their entry/exit. It was a great chance to see what it takes to get out through the surf zone as well as various examples of the possible exit scenarios. Most divers performed the Monastery Crawl to reach the beach, a few divers were able to walk out (you could see that they had nailed the timing and also braced for any wave that was chasing them towards the beach), and one diver was unfortunate enough to end up in the washing machine cycle of getting knocked down and pushed around as they tried to crawl out and eventually received some aid from buddy to drag/crawl to dry sand. Granted this was at the North where the beach is steeper, but it did emphasize all the warnings we'd read about this site. Our dive at South was really great. Great chance to practice a challenging entry/exit with regs in the mouth at all times. Swam straight out and descended to around around 20' and explored the very cool reef. Saw lots of fish which I am terrible at identifying. Looking forward to coming back here soon
Buster
Buster
May 5, 2013, 12:00 AM
scuba
I read a lot about the harsh conditions at this site, but my son and I did an evening and early morning dive in calm seas and it was spectacular. We are avid freedivers and had no problem with entering or exiting, but could see how it could be rough with SCUBA because of the steep entry. Lots of great fish, kelp beds, plants and rock outcroppings. Great 360 degree views from the water. Vis 40+. Felt like we were in Hawaii, except water was 53 deg.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Rick Wilson
Rick Wilson
Jul 20, 2012, 12:00 AM
scuba
After reading all the warnings about this site, honestly I thought I was irresponsible for diving here with my 18 year old son, and my heart raced as we entered the water. But it was calm as glass, and we had ZERO issue getting in the water. Had to be one of the top dive experiences of my 36 years diving. Visibility top to bottom (35+ feet), such amazing colors, monster crabs, amazing kelp canopy. Swimming back there was some surge we rode into the shallow water, what a great ride! My advise, do what we did, wait till there are no waves, and have a great dive!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Pettyfogger
Pettyfogger
Jan 27, 2011, 12:00 AM
scuba
They didn't nickname this place 'Mortuary Beach' for nothing. This dive venue is, IMHO, good only for those capable of advanced rough water beach diving. I've only been able to do a standing-up exit once there, the rest of the time, like everyone else, I had had to do the 'Monastery Crawl' to get out. The sand is STEEP, making for a monster backwash, with beaucoup rip currents in the middle part of the cove. Leave your SCUBA mouthpiece in your mouth at all times until you are standing on dry sand. If you get knocked over or tumbled by the merciless shore break waves, you need to be able to breathe while getting tossed around under the wave. Hold onto your mouthpiece if you're knocked down and sucked under a wave. If you find you can't make it in with your gear, ditch it and swim in with just your fins - then crawl out pronto. Bodysurfing experience is invaluable to mastering this place, and those familiar only to lakes and quiet boat dives in the tropics are taking their lives in their hands going in here without expert instruction and personal professional dive master. On the positive side, the reefs and sea life are the best California has to offer, and it's nice not having the Lobos rangers breathing down your neck.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Shayne Holderby
Shayne Holderby
Aug 26, 2010, 12:00 AM
scuba
Do Not Dive without a familiar diver or at least read up on entry and exit at beach. Excellent kelp and wall diving, usually better viz. Lots of Jellies in this area. Current has a lot of surge (reduced near the wall). Access to the 'bottom' here at both ends of the beach. Very nice dive site. Snorkeling over the south end kelp bed has many surprises.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Brian Xavier
Brian Xavier
Apr 12, 2008, 12:00 AM
scuba
South Monastery is a great dive. Pick a flat day and go in next to the kelp at the south end of the beach. Park as close to the south end of the beach as possible. I used my dolly to move my gear; it saved me some trouble. Be respectful of Monastery- a man told me three people died here a few weeks ago- swept into the ocean. A Master Diver also died here awhile back. He was diving on a 10 foot swell day. Don't be afraid to walk away from this dive- even if you drove a great distance to get here.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Laura from Santa Cruz
Laura from Santa Cruz
Nov 19, 2007, 12:00 AM
scuba
I love this spot, but any day diving at Monastery means being willing to call the dive if there is moderate swell. Because of the angle of the beach, waves crash here with a lot of force. Suit up well away from the impact zone, have your fins ON so you can swim out of the impact zone ASAP and do not take them off until you have backed or crawled out all the way to dry sand. Time your entry and exits carefully. Avoid mid-beach. Know your limits and don't dive here unless you are capable of handling the entry/exit. Conditions can change rapidly. Summer is a great time to try this site; some days are glassy. The vis can be outstanding and the reef is beautiful.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Samantha
Samantha
Sep 13, 2007, 12:00 AM
scuba
Because I lived in Monterey while I was learning to dive, I used to dive monastery regularly. It's a beautiful site and was always one of my favorites. I guess I had been pretty lucky because I always entered and exited in one piece. However, recently I returned to Monterey with my friend Julie to dive some of my old favorite spots…Monastery Beach was one of them. Julie and I almost drowned. Eager to get in the water, we hastily checked the conditions and began our south side entry. Everything appeared to be just fine and we stepped off of that little 5 foot ledge and were up to our chests. We were about to put our fins on when I looked behind Julie and saw a gigantic wall of water gathering up…quickly. The next thing I knew my face was pinned in the sand and I was flying head over heels. I thought I'd never surface but luckily I escaped the powerful undertow and washed ashore. As I struggled under 30lbs of weight (yeah I know, shut up) I turned around just in time to see Julie get hit by the next wave and wash up right next to me. So please, even if you have done a few dives at Monastery, ALWAYS THOROUGHLY CHECK CONDITIONS FIRST!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Mitch in CA
Mitch in CA
Apr 25, 2006, 12:00 AM
scuba
Lots of parking on HWY 1 and not a very long haul to the beach. There was a group of 6 divers exiting and 2 free divers there, as well. It was low tide and the entry/exit was easy. Went out right of the point and stayed in 35-40 feet - lots to look at and there are some cool reefs. Nudibranch, few crab, stars, and lots of rockfish - bagged 2 yellow, 2 perch, 1 china and 1 black on 1 tank. It is advised that you DO head back underwater as I came up and had to do the hard swim thru the kelp at low tide - not fun! Be careful around the point as I started catching currents going towards the rocks. Awesome site for underwater viewing - just North of Point Lobos.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Anonymous
Anonymous
Aug 29, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
I took my first 'local' dive here at Monastery. I got certified in Hawaii, so the cold waters of Carmel were a little different. The water wasn't as bad as I thought - about 50 degrees, which is pretty warm for this area, as told by my Dive master. For the first dive we swam around the kelp beds at around 40 feet, a short swim out from the shore. The second dive, we snorkeled out a lot farther (also on the south shore), and that was a lot better. The rock formations are large and rugged, and there is a lot more larger fish to see. Saw lingcod, rock fish, jellyfish, hundreds of starfish varieties, and a few crabs. Didn't see any halibut, although we saw a few divers coming out of the water with Perch and some other fish types. Overall, the dive was good and I would go back for some more.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Kendall Roberg
Kendall Roberg
May 8, 2005, 12:00 AM
scuba
Great site! We swam out to the start of the kelp beds and dropped down to about 20 feet. Visibility was nice at around 20 to 25 feet. Lots of cool reefs and tons of marine life. Set your compass for the shore and make sure to end the dive close to the shore, otherwise you'll have a long surface swim over the kelp (not very fun). Great site!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Robert Magee
Robert Magee
Aug 7, 2004, 12:00 AM
scuba
I am a pretty new diver. I have been certified for 3 years. This was approx. my 25th dive. This was probably the best diving I have done. We entered from the south shore. The waves were about 2 feet at 9:30 am and about 3 feet at 11:30 am. We swam out about 100 yards and dropped down to about 25 feet. The thick kelp was on the furthest south part of the beach. We swam out pretty much kelp free. When on the bottom we swam towards the kelp and there was the best marine life and rock formations I have seen yet. There is an abundance of nudibranches, annemities, almost every star fish imaginable, crabs, a lot of hermit crabs. We saw a few Ling Cod. The fish I liked the best was a Painted Greenling. I think I saw a Spotted Kelpfish also. The deepest we went was 43 feet. You don't to go deep to have a great dive. Be very careful entering and exiting. You have to do the crawl on the way out. I suggest putting on your fins after your in the water. The workout is walking back to your car or truck after the dive. Hope to see you out there some time.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
William E. D'Anis
William E. D'Anis
Jul 9, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
In 1954 I joined the Calif. Congers. Being a couple years older than the group I had the only car. We would sleep in the car or under an underpass on Hwy1 and snorkel Monastery Beach in dry suits. No one had an Aqua Lung! The convent Sisters would come down to watch us. Some of the Calif. Congers were Jim Coon, Henry Reiswig, Don Williamson, Matt Saunders, and Vern Peckham. There were 30 of us. Lingcod and cabazone were scarce then too. Abalone were not as prized as they are today. We would have fish and abalone fries on the beach. Jim Coon (Thaddeus Lingcod Coon, Jr.) was the president and Henry Reiswig went on to become a Dr. of Marine Biology. Now I am 70 and those days are gone. My diving was over by about 1984 but I got my son certified SCUBA and dove with him on his checkout at Cataline. Wonderful years!!!!!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Eric 'Spoon' Carvaho
Eric 'Spoon' Carvaho
Jun 30, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
Again, some of the best diving. Facilities include a pay phone right next to bathroom in case a medical emergency arises. Love to do a night dive here!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Eric 'Spoon' Carvaho
Eric 'Spoon' Carvaho
Jun 30, 2003, 12:00 AM
scuba
Again, some of the best diving. Facilities include a pay phone right next to bathroom in case a medical emergency arises. Love to do a night dive here!
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Derek
Derek
Sep 18, 2002, 12:00 AM
scuba
I actually enjoyed this end of the beach better than the north side mainly because of the bigger fish, but I am a biased fish person. The visibility was definitely not as great as the north, but it was still about 15-20 feet. The entry was easy this day with a 2-3 foot swell coming in. We dropped down right in front of the kelp forest and navigated out to the point. The depth went from about 20 feet to 55 feet with many shallow areas towards the land on the south. I saw numerous species of rockfish including: blacks, gophers, and one big vermillion rockfish. The gophers pretty much did not move from their holes and would make great models for pictures...I guess that is why they are called gophers? Also spotted a few calico bass and sand dabs. The kelp was pretty thick so make sure you navigate well if you go into the beast...which is of course the most interesting part of the dive.
Originally posted on shorediving.com