California Dive Sites
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Diving 102: California Kelp Diving and the Kelp Crawl
Diving 103: Freediving and Underwater Hunting
Diving 104: Abalone Diving Basics
MacAbee is a short sandy beach walk-in. The area is northward facing and well protected; it has little swell. The vis is normally not good (10-15ft.) but it is a good beginner's kelp dive. Be sure to take a knife in case you get tangled in kelp and know how to kelp crawl. Max. depth is about 40 ft.
How to get there:
This site is located on the beach in front of the Spindrift Hotel in Monterey. It is accessible from Cannery Row by a short walk between El Torito and the Hotel. There are pay-to-park areas that will allow divers to get suited up (bring dollars and quarters). It is strictly forbidden to suit up on Cannery Row so suit up in a parking lot. Facilities are lacking here, the Spindrift used to have a shower head operating for divers, but they have turned it off. Up two blocks from Cannery Row is a multi-level parking structure that has public restrooms but no showers.
Many dive classes are held here so the place is usually crowded. The vis can get very bad here (less than 2 ft.) due to its shallow nature and the number of students in the water. It is a sandy bottom with little kelp and not much to look at during the day except the numerous bat stars and hermit crabs. At night, the inhabitants of the breakwater come out to hunt. Look for octopii and halibut at night. One fun aspect of diving during the day is the animal life. Otters, harbor seals and sea lions will follow you around and play pranks with your gear (biting, pulling, taking your octo, etc.). Max. depth is <40ft.
How to get there:
The Breakwater is located near the Wharf in Monterey off of Lighthouse Street. There is pay-to-park (by the hour, so have lots of quarters--$1.50 for 2 hours or $8.00 for all day when you buy a parking pass [use your ATM]) just 100 yards from the entrance to the site. You may suit up anywhere. There are public restrooms available and a grassy area with park benches and picnic tables. Be kind to the "scuba-watchers" by not taking the benches and tables while you suit up or do your surface interval.
Metridium Field is not a separate dive spot, it is part of the Breakwater. Because Breakwater is an easy dive, you can expect a large crowd of new divers finishing their training. This dive rates at intermediate due to the need for good navigation, low visibility, distance of the site from the shore, and kelp diving experience. You can locate Metridium field by entering at the south end of the beach and looking for a buoy that marks the spot. Take a general heading of 240° and swim out to the buoy or edge of the kelp. Metridium Field is to the Northwest (330°) of the buoy. Visibility in this area can be poor so be sure to have experience with low vis situations. Depth averages between 50-70 feet and the surface swim can be 200 yards.
How to get there:
You can get to Metridium Field by driving to the Breakwater near the Wharf in Monterey off of Lighthouse Street. There is pay-to-park (by the hour, so have lots of quarters--$1.50 for 2 hours or $8.00 for an all-day pass). You may suit up anywhere. There are public restrooms available and a grassy area with park benches and picnic tables. Be kind to the "scuba-watchers" by not taking the benches and tables while you suit up or finish your surface interval.