For anyone visiting the Monterey, California to dive, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve really should be on your list of sites. The kelp forests are spectacular and the marine life is incredible. Harbor seals inhabit the cove and will often inspect divers, occasionally tugging on fins and sometimes following in and out of view for much of the dive.
The best visibility is out toward the mouth of the cove. There are rocky reefs there starting around 35 feet and, depending on how much you care to swim, reaching depths of 90 feet or so. On average, most divers will be in the 60 – 65 foot range.
It’s usually a good move to swim on the surface toward the mouth of Whaler’s Cove, following a channel in the kelp mimicking a sand channel on the bottom. The sandy channel leads more or less back to the ramp, which is the only entry/exit point allowed at Point Lobos.
On the bottom you’ll find cabezon, rockfish, lingcod, anemones, nudibranchs, chitons–just about everything you can imagine. Once in a while a sizable sheepshead will make an appearance.
Get there early, and on weekends, be sure to make a reservation or you won’t likely get in. They only allow 12 dive teams per day, and all must show proof of certification. If you’re first in line when the park opens at 8am, you’ll be able to secure the prime parking spot right next to the entry point. Across form that, there are bathrooms and just to the other side of the ramp, there’s a hose available for fresh water gear rinsing.
Point Lobos scuba diving is legendary. Like so many dive sites, you need to visit often and throughout different seasons to discover all that makes it unique. If you haven’t been diving there, make it a plan for your next Monterey area visit.