California Scuba Diving and Free diving
Underwater Hunting Season Alert
Check Dept. of Fish and Game(PDF) to verify season

Beach Health
(Monterey Bay, California)
Call 1-800-347-6363

Tide Predictions for Monterey, CA. by XTide

Reef Environmental Education Foundation
Coral Reef Alliance
Diver's Alert Network
Diving WebRing
California Diving
The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association
Favorite Dive Sites

This is the place to get information about some of the best Northern California diving. If you are just looking for pictures, go to my dive log and click on the picture links. On my dive sites page, I have included information about how to get to these spots and general ideas about what to expect when you get there.

Check on the health of your beach when you dive (call 1-800-347-6363), there are times when your beach dive will be closed due to high bactrial contamination in the water.

Since I live in Northern California, I have done all of my diving in the beautiful and richly inhabited kelp forests of Monterey and Carmel (see the Dive Logs for information and pictures). Many exciting sights are just out of reach for the tourists who walk Cannery Row in Monterey. At a site called MacAbee [the enterance is between the Spindrift Hotel and El Torito], my dive buddies and I suit up and walk down Cannery Row to a small sandy site next to the Hotel. In a way, scuba divers are a tourist attraction in Monterey. At the Breakwater, tourist sit in the park on the grass and watch the scuba classes go into the ocean.

When you are in Northern California, take some time to visit these excellent dive sites (listed by preference):

  1. Monastery in Carmel (my favorite advanced dive).
  2. Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel (make reservation online about 2 months in advance) [view their web page or the map of diving area] (PLSR is called the Greatest meeting of Land and Sea for good reason),
  3. MacAbee in Monterey (when all others are too hazardous)
  4. Breakwater in Monterey (normally a lot of classes held here)

Diver's Tales

shell icon Divers always have stories to tell (just like fishermen). I had a nature encounter that was an awakening for my sense of place on this planet. Like most outdoor sports, diving has the excitement of exploring. Sometimes you go out and look for nature, but once in a while nature will come to find you! One day at Monastery, I was diving with my buddies Tin and Cuong. While I was circling a short pinnacle, I turned around to check on my buddy Tin. He was right behind me, but following behind him was a very large harbor seal. The seal seemed to think we were playing follow-the-leader. The harbor seal followed us for the rest of the dive and nearly came to shore when we exited.

Nothing else on earth could possibly compare with the feeling of breathing under water. Being able to breath underwater and the weightlessness makes me think I'm flying. Around here, the surge underwater can make diving difficult or it can exagerate the speedy feeling of flying over the rocks and though the cracks. Here is a receipe to have fun with surge: kick to maintain position during the surge's backswing and then rocket forward with the surge.

Top Side Attractions

starfish icon It is great to be one of the priveleged few who can see nature within its natural habitat (a close substitute is the Monterey Bay Aquarium--excellent place for learning, great for all ages, I go as often as I can).

Weather Information
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Abalone Diving

Diving is a wonderful recreation, but Abalone diving is the sport to measure yourself against. North of San Francisco is abalone heaven. Abalone cannot be taken with scuba gear. It is regulated to breath-hold diving only--take a breath, dive down, find an abalone, pry it off and return to the surface. Sounds simple doesn't it!? It is simple until you find that abalone don't really want to let go of the rock.

During only a few months of the year (April-June, and August-November), abalone can be taken for food. Abs (plural slang) are heavy shelled mollusks--cousin to the garden snail--which move very slowly over the rocks and scrap up algae for food. Ab meat is one of the most sought after foods and it demands high prices in the supermarket. Some people call ab diving "ab hunting," but the abs move so slow that it really isn't a hunt. Well to be fair, you do hunt for a good spot (glory hole) which contains abs, but then the hunt is over, now it's harvest time.

I have been on only one ab dive, but I was hooked from the start. Salt Point State Park was a great place for me to have my first ab dive. I saw many legal size abs (7 inches or more) in 15-20 feet of water. I must admit, I failed to get any abs. I didn't know the proper technique to pry the abs off the rock without damaging them so I left empty-handed. I placed the ab iron between the shell and the rocks to pry off the abalone, but I should have slide the ab iron between the ab's foot (the edible part) and the rock to break its hold.

Gear Round-Up

I have most of my own gear, and I rent the stuff I don't have. The rental equipment from Diver Dan's Wet Pleasure (Santa Clara, CA.) is quite good.

Wetsuit : Bodyglove 6.5mm
Gloves: Mares 5mm Gloves
Boots: ScubaPro 5mm Boots
Weights: hard lead on my weight belt (no sissy Sea Soft belts)
Hood: 5mm hood
Regulator: Oceanic Delta III regulator with the balanced diaphragm first stage
Octo: Oceanic SwivelOcto
Computer: Oceanic Prodigy
Fins: Mares Avanti
Snorkel: Tusa Platina Hyperdry (Black)
Compass: Oceanic Compass
Knife: Underwater Kinetics Remora Dive knife
Light: Ikelite RCD Halogen
Mask: Mares Ventrosa
Dive Bag: ActionPlus

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