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Need Advanced Cert tips in San Jose Monterey

Discussion in 'NorCal' started by poifromthebag, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. poifromthebag

    poifromthebag Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: California
    Hi... I've finally decided to get my advanced certification (padi) after diving (OW) recreationally sporadically for the last 20+ years. I live in San Jose. I've already finished the padi online part, and now that I'm done with the vax I will do the in-person/water stuff. I only own my mask, snorkle, booties, fins, gloves; so everything else will have to be rented, including a warmer wetsuit. I'm on my own (because my spouse does not do scuba) and I don't have friends who do it either.

    We will be going to Breakwater Cove Marina. I've never lugged my own stuff, as I also did scuba charters in vacation spots where they do everything for you. I'm a newb when it comes to logistics.

    Need tips:
    1. what to pack
    2. where to stay
    3. how's the vis, temps, kelp, sealife in July?
    leavenotrace likes this.
  2. runsongas

    runsongas Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    it is a 90 min drive without traffic, so staying down in monterey is optional. lone oak lodge is the one that caters to divers with outdoor rinse stations. most of the aow classes will need to schedule a calm day to do the deep dive at north monastery (because most of the other shore sites require a shovel to hit enough depth) or extra cost for a boat ride.

    current temps are in low 50s F, 10 to 15 feet vis.
    kumimonster and poifromthebag like this.
  3. kumimonster

    kumimonster ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: San Francisco Bay Area
    You will make friends. If my bitchy mouth can make friends then anyone can. Almost anyone.
    You will make more friends than you know what to do with. Pretty soon you will hate all your scuba friends because that's all they talk about and you will be keeping up with the scuba-Jones trying to buy the newest and fanciest gear and eventually go in debt because of it! :rofl3:

    1. Pack liquids and snacks. Fruit, protein, whatever. You will want to stay hydrated. Very hydrated. Pack a towel, some warm clothes and some clothes that will keep you cool in case the day gets sunny. If it's windy for any reason, a boat coat or a windbreaker to keep the chill off between dives if you leave your wetsuit on. (it should dry if the weather is sunny). A hat is nice. Sunscreen is nice - necessary if you don't want to burn. I like to pack a folding chair that is strong enough to hold me while wearing full wet gear. I also pack a work table (husky portable jobsite workbench). This is not necessary. If you start diving more often locally, it'll be something to look into for convenience.
    Is your car one of those bloop-bloop electronic ones? Bring a valet key so the electronics don't go bloop-fizzle. You might want to invest in a Hitch Safe for your car. Some people use those hidey magnet things. I think they're kind of *meh*. If you don't have one, your instructor should be able to hook you up and lock your keys in their car or something like that to start.
    The parking machine takes credit cards and cash.

    2. I like the Lone Oak. It's pretty nice for multiple days. There's a scuba cleaning station and racks to hold your heavy gear to dry. Each room has two large hooks available outside the door to hang personal gear. (Bring your own heavy duty scuba hangers). The rooms have been upgraded over the years - the price as well. I would still stay here for 2+ days of diving. For just one, I'll drive down and back the same day.
    If you're coming from San Jose (I drive from Palo Alto), you can always just drive down in the morning. I like to leave around 0430 or so. That gets me to the parking lot around 0600. Maybe a little after. The divers that are there are usually instructors setting up spots for their classes (busy weekends!) or people getting an early dive in before the crowds that might show up divers and non-divers alike. I enjoy the quiet and watching the sun come up. Plus, leaving that early ensures me that traffic won't be a problem. Also, parking is not an issue. Almost ALL the spots are available so you can park super close near the grass and stairs and octopus bike rack, or you can park along the wall close to the stairs.

    3. Conditions.
    This STICKIED thread.
    There's also a facebook group or two or three: Monterery Bay Scuba Divers Open and Monterey County Dive Reports and Monterey Subtidal Species Identification Forum.

    Lots and lots of photos (and trouble makers too within!)
  4. uspap

    uspap Contributor

    I've always stayed in my truck when I decide to stay down there. I'm in South San Jose and it is typically about an hours drive. As a result, I don't usually stay. Lots of Nudibranchs last time I was there. At the end of the wall the Sea Lions/Seals will put on a show. If you don't want to lug all your dive crap, as my non diving wife calls it, then rent at Aquarius on the way in. If you want a nice get away for you and your wife then stay at the spindrift. A bit pricey but a cool place close to good diving.
  5. wnissen

    wnissen Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Livermore, Calif.
    You got great advice so far, viz is pretty lousy compared to your typical warm water diving location, but it's usually acceptable year round. Everyone goes to San Carlos for their first dives, but it's a great site. No hard coral, but a ton to see.

    I have a checklist I use for day-trips, though most of the gear is all in a couple of bins now, just for ease of rinse and storage.

    Dry clothes in a duffle bag
    • 1 pr pants
    • 1 tee
    • 1 underwear
    • 1 pr ankle socks
    • blue scuba socks
    • bathing suit
    • flip flops
    • towel
    • large hat
    • fleece jacket
    • windbreaker
    • tarp
    Scuba stuff
    • Lights
    • Scuba bag:
      • Regulator Bag:
        • regulator set
        • computer (check!)
        • compass
        • yoke adaptor
      • BCD
        • SMB (Surface Marker Buoy)
        • spool
        • whistle
      • 8mm wetsuit
      • ?skinsuit
      • ?hood
      • 7.5mm boots
      • fins
    • Blue folio ("crew bag")
      • Powdered gatorade
      • ear drops
      • ibuprofen
      • meclazine
      • dive log / certification card
      • checklist
    • Mask bag
      • mask/snorkel
      • mask defog
      • ?Dive earplugs
      • 3mm gloves
    • weights
    • 2x cylinder
    • 3L water bottles
    • Snacks and lunch fixings
    • Sunscreen
    • ?Parking pass
    Ulfhedinn and markmud like this.
  6. SaltyWombat

    SaltyWombat Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: US
    Many divers stay at the Lone Oak. It's nice having rinse tanks. However, I'm a light sleeper and their heaters/AC keep me awake at night. It's a standard motel room with the heater/AC underneath the window.

    Instead, I spend more for the Hilton Garden Inn. It's nice.

    I think the Travelodge on Fremont has an outdoor shower. They're listed as diver-friendly on the Monterey Shootout website. I've never stayed there though.
    wnissen likes this.
  7. wnissen

    wnissen Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Livermore, Calif.
    That's helpful, I may try them. I've been wary since covid of any place with interior hallways and a shared ventilation system. But even before that I didn't want to piss anyone off by bringing wet, potentially sandy gear through a nice lobby. Does the Garden Inn have a side entrance?

    The heat/AC units at Lone Oak are loud, but Monterey is also very temperate, so I turn it off. If it gets a bit cool at night you can throw on another blanket.
  8. poifromthebag

    poifromthebag Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: California
    Greats tips everyone.. thanks! I am taking note.

    Ok... it looks like my schedule doesn't work with the dates that the dive shop in San Jose has for both July and August.

    Any recommended dive shops in monterey or santa cruz area?

    Also... one of the SJ dive shops says a prereq is at least 4 dives in cold water (below 65F). I've never done Monterey before or any cold water. Is this a bad idea to do my first cold water WHILE doing adv cert?
  9. runsongas

    runsongas Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    aquarius and bamboo reef are both adequate options. you should at least do a dive or two at the breakwater to get used to the thicker wetsuit and weights needed.
    elgoog likes this.
  10. Brett Hatch

    Brett Hatch ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Monterey
    It's probably not gonna kill you, but you might get more out of the class this way. It will most likely take some finagling to get your weighting dialed in, which is easier in a pool. I was living in San Jose when I did my AOW course with Diver Dan's, and had a good experience. Their heated on-site pool was a nice perk, too. I believe they do the AOW class every other week. Or if that doesn't work for whatever reason, I'm sure Bamboo Reef or Aquarius will do you fine as well. I haven't taken a course with them, but I frequent both shops since I moved down to Monterey.

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