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Recommendations for Monterey guided shore dive

Discussion in 'NorCal' started by OrcasC205, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. OrcasC205

    OrcasC205 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Seattle, WA
    29
    19
    3
    Hi,

    My wife and I are going to be down in Monterey for a few days in early September. We've got a boat dive scheduled with Sanctuary Charters on Saturday, Sep 7, but we are hoping to do a couple of shore dives in Monterey on Friday the 6th. Having not dived there before, we're prefer a local guide so we can go right to the good stuff. We're both NAUI AOW and Drysuit certified and will be bringing our own gear except for tanks and, maybe, weights.

    Any recommendations for a shop or private guide to help us out? We'll want to rent steel tanks since we're going to be in our drysuits.

    Cheers,

    -Doug
     
  2. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    3,057
    1,095
    113
    all 3 shops in the area offer guided dives and steel tank rentals; aquarius by the highway, bamboo reef near the aquarium, and breakwater scuba at san carlos beach. depending on conditions, request pt lobos, north monastery, or copper roof instead of the san carlos breakwater if possible. the breakwater isn't a bad dive, carmel just is better imo.
     
    dive1bb likes this.
  3. wnissen

    wnissen Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Livermore, Calif.
    190
    79
    28
    I've taken dive tours from Breakwater Scuba and Aquarius. Both went to Breakwater, which is a very nice site with easy access that also is essentially guaranteed to be diveable unless there's a storm or something else fairly dramatic going on. It won't be raining, but there can be "Santa Ana" winds that make it rough. I had about 30 dives, most in Monterey, when I went, and neither shop offer another site, so I don't know if you will be able to get them to take you to an intermediate or advanced site. Both shops rent steel.

    Both shops have a ton of DMs that do tours at various times, so your mileage will vary. I would give the edge to Breakwater both for the DM and convenience. You're practically in the parking lot of the Breakwater.

    It's slightly more expensive, but I can recommend Randall Spangler. He is very knowledgeable, definitely does more advanced sites, and his premium for private is not bad, either. You would have to procure your own gear and transportation.

    Don't get your heart set on Carmel, though. It's much more exposed than the sites inside Monterey Bay, and so more likely to scrub. Breakwater is "boring" because that's where everyone certifies and has great access, but some of my very favorite dives have been there, from sea lions to lemon nudibranchs.
     
    dive1bb likes this.
  4. BikerBecca

    BikerBecca ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco
    315
    381
    63
    Dear Doug,
    You are going to love Sanctuary. They do an amazing job. If I wasn't working on Friday the 6th I ask you to hire me to be your dive guide. However, since I am working that day I must truly recommend the dive shop I work for, Bamboo Reef. Yes, I'm biased but they truly do an amazing job. They have excellent dive guides that know every dive site in the area.

    As for a dive site I would highly recommend Point Lobos. It is so beautiful!!!!! Keep in mind they limit the number of divers allowed each day so you have to make a reservation. Here's the link -> Point Lobos SCUBA Diving

    If you don't make it to Point Lobos you still can't go wrong with the diving around Monterey. Even the Breakwater, where people go to learn, has great dives with the most popular being the Metridium Field.

    Have a great time in Monterey!
     
    dive1bb, Sam Miller III and wnissen like this.
  5. wnissen

    wnissen Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Livermore, Calif.
    190
    79
    28
    Right, @BikerBecca , I meant to include you as part of my post and forgot. I didn't realize you worked through Bamboo Reef.
     
  6. Chavodel8en

    Chavodel8en Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Oakland, CA
    463
    248
    43
    Carmel generally has better viz than Monterey sites, but can be blown out if conditions are bad. Pt Lobos is a bit more protected & is always a nice dive, as its a reserve, so the fish get big & plentiful. Note that the kelp can get very thick at Lobos, which can make diving beautiful, but challenging.

    The Breakwater is generally a standard 10-20 ft. viz, but can sometimes be worse. The one benefit to Breakwater, besides convenience & protection from swells, is if you swim out far enough along the wall, you are likely to get sea lions buzzing by. The last couple of times I dove there they were plentiful. Sea lions may not be as great a novelty for a Seattle divers, but I still enjoy it even though Ive dove it dozens of times.

    Also, google Monterey County beach closures when youre planning. Some of the Monterey/Pacific Grove sites may have high bacteria levels when you're around. Lovers Point & the Wharf, for example, are currently closed.
     
    dive1bb likes this.
  7. dive1bb

    dive1bb Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Campbell, CA
    82
    43
    18
    All great recommendations. Just wanted to add one thing. If you’re feeling up to it, I recommend getting a night dive in along the Breakwater wall. Simple dive with plenty to see.

    I would offer to meet you, but I have plans to dive in SoCal during your trip.

    Hope you have a great time!
     
  8. OrcasC205

    OrcasC205 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Seattle, WA
    29
    19
    3
    Thanks, everyone, for the awesome input. It sounds like diving Pt. Lobos is the best option if we can make it happen. I appreciate all of the recommendations. Cheers!
     
    dive1bb and BikerBecca like this.
  9. OrcasC205

    OrcasC205 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Seattle, WA
    29
    19
    3
    I just wanted to close the loop on this thread...

    We ended up boat diving both Friday and Saturday with Sanctuary Charters and had an amazing time. Given our unfamiliarity with the area, we hired guides both days. Friday we had Taylor as a guide and there was only one other person on the boat, so it was really relaxed. Our first dive was on the Pinnacles in Carmel Bay, which were spectacular. There was life absolutely everywhere. There was a bit of surge pushing us around on the pinnacles, so it was good practice keeping our buoyancy under control. Our second dive was back in Monterey Bay at the inner Hopkins Reef. It was our first experience with a kelp forest and my wife and I were just blown away with how beautiful it was.

    Saturday we had a full boat and Nicholas as our guide. The seas were calmer than Friday despite having a small craft advisory for later in the day. As we were motoring towards Carmel Bay, Captain Mitch suddenly stopped just out outside the kept off of Point Joe. He had seen some interesting terrain on the depth sounder and decided, since the seas were seldom calm enough to dive there, to give it a try (I named the site in my dive log "Mitch's Hunch" in his honor.) It turned out the site he found was a pinnacle-like reef that bottomed out at about 75 feet and rose up to about 35 feet and was teaming with life in every imaginable color. There was almost no surge and the dive was even better than the Pinnacles the day before. Even with six divers on the boat (plus two crew that were diving,) it was very relaxed and comfortable on the boat. Our second dive on Saturday was back at the inner Hopkins Reef. We enjoyed it so much on Friday that we had no complaints going back on Saturday. We really took it slow and looked for all the tiny critters amongst the kelp which suited everyone's wishes, including our guide's.

    Overall it was a phenomenal weekend of diving. We decided we will have to bring our daughter down to Monterey for more diving in the late fall or early winter -- she'll die when she sees the sea otters hanging out amongst the kelp.
     
    wnissen, Speck and MichaelMc like this.

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