(BEACH AND BOAT OR KAYAK DIVES)
(SKILL LEVEL: ADVANCED TO EXPERT)
Monastery Beach (part of Carmel River State Beach) is a very popular dive site for veteran divers and Instructors with Advanced classes. To get to Monastery Beach drive South to Carmel on Hwy. 1; when you get to Carmel Valley Rd. go another 2 ½ miles (you will pass a shopping center on your left). You will come to a long sandy beach, and on the left side of the highway there is a monastery. Parking is usually available off the West side of the road, but during the summer spaces may be at a premium. There are actually a number of dive sites off the beach. As a word of caution, make your entries from either the North or South ends of the beach, as the middle usually has a strong rip current and large waves. Public restrooms are at the South end of the beach.
The North end of the beach is an excellent deep beach dive. Enter just South of the rocks and swim out to the kelp bed, keeping the rocks to your right. Once you get to about 35 or 40 feet depth drop down and begin your dive. If you just keep the rocks to your right you will eventually come to the edge of the Monterey Canyon. You can sit on a ledge at 130 feet and dangle your fins over the canyon. The area gets deep quickly as you pass 60 feet, so watch your gauges and enjoy the rock formations, kelp, and sea life.
The South end of the beach can be both a great beach dive, or a place to launch a small inflatable or kayak for some deeper diving further out. If you decide to do a beach dive just keep the rocks to your left and head on out. In a normal beach dive you will probably not get deeper than 60 feet. If you are more adventurous you can swim out about 400 yards and begin your dive there. The outer edge of the kelp in this area varies from 50 feet to over 80 feet deep. I usually launch my kayak and paddle out to just inside the point and begin my dives there. The South side has many nooks and crannies to explore, and you could easily do a dozen or more dives off the South end and each dive would be a different experience. Don't forget to check your tides and conditions before diving this beach.
As a final word of caution, if you are not experienced in rough surf entires I recommend taking a class and learning the proper techniques for entries and exits. I have seen instructors "humbled" at this beach on more than one occasion. Most California divers in this area are well versed in the "Monastery Crawl" and for good reason. If you are an experienced diver, the sandy bottom off of this beach is a great place to find "discarded" equipment.
The decision to dive (or not) is your responsibility. Keep diving activities within your training and comfort level. If you feel more training or experience is needed before attempting a dive, don't dive. Know personal limits, skill levels, and abilities of yourself and your dive buddy. Dive Safely and Dive Often!
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, contact me
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