Point Lobos

Point Lobos

This is one of the nicest dive spots.  It's on the west coast of the Monterey peninsula, but in a relatively sheltered cove.  There are bathrooms and picnic tables.  Entry is via a short concrete ramp - nice, except at low tide where it's a little slippery.

You need reservations to dive here, and you must dive with a buddy (or as a group of 3).  See the Point Lobos website for more details.

You can also kayak dive here.

Dive Areas

You must enter the water at the boat ramp.  Note that the ramp is slippery with algae, particularly at low tide.  Stick to the side of the ramp where you can grab onto the rocks for support, and walk slowly.  A few feet off the end of the ramp, there's a drop-off into 6-10' deep water.

Whaler's Cove

This includes a range of sites, some closer than others:
  • The inside of the cove near where you enter the water.  This is shallow with a sandy bottom.  Visibility is often low, and there's not as much to see as other sites.
  • The near side of the cove.  There's a nice sand channel between the middle reef and the near side.  Head down that and then explore to the left.
  • The middle reef - several ridges of rock near the outside of Whaler's Cove
  • The far side of the cove.  There are some nice slots and caves.  Often more surge than the rest of the cove.
  • Coal Chute - a small inlet to the north side of Whaler's Cove.  Be careful if there's a lot of surge.
  • Granite Point - a pinnacle outside of Whaler's Cove

Bluefish Cove

This is a gorgeous dive site.  Due to the distance from the boat ramp, it's only accessible using kayaks or DPVs.  Depending on tides and conditions, it may be possible to cut across between the rocks rather than going all the way around the outer rocks.

Shore Information

Directions from the Bay Area

  • South on 101 Freeway
  • Exit 336 - 156 West to Monterey Peninsula
  • Continue on Highway 1 South to Monterey Peninsula
  • Stay on Highway 1 through Monterey
  • The freeway will end as you enter Carmel.  Watch your speed!
  • There's a decent shopping center on Rio Road just before you leave Carmel.
  • You'll pass by Monastery Beach.  This is a good spot to meet if you're entering Point Lobos as a group, because there are bathrooms.
  • As you head into the trees, look for the turn to Point Lobos on your right.  Note that a line of cars sometimes backs up onto the highway.
  • At the gate, show your cert card and pay for parking.
  • Whalers Cove is the first right turn after you enter the reserve.  Drive slowly; there are often pedestrians.


Parking is in a dirt lot.  Note that there is a no parking area in front of the bathrooms.  Don't block entry to the large sheds on your left as you drive in; that's where the fire department keeps their zodiac boat for water rescues.


There are bathrooms with flush toilets in a small concrete building to the west of the parking lot.  The floor is usually wet, so it's not the greatest place to change clothes.

Other Notes

There are a number of picnic tables around the parking area.  These are great places to gear up.  Note that due to the large number of visitors, I wouldn't leave anything valuable on them during your dive.

There used to be a hose by the ramp for rinsing gear.  In summer 2015, the hose was removed due to the drought.  So bring your own rinse water.


Some Point Lobos tips:
  • Make sure you test-assemble your gear and have everything packed before you head to Point Lobos.  The nearest dive shop is all the way back in Monterey.
  • Parking fills quickly in the summer months.  Try to be at the gate no later than 8:30am, or better still right when they open at 8:00am.
  • There's a concrete 3D map by the bathrooms.  Look at that first.
  • The ramp is slippery, particularly at low tide.  Move slowly and carefully.
  • Once you're in, swim towards the mouth of the cove.  You can usually pick a path through the kelp.  Go as far out as you can manage before the kelp gets obnoxiously thick.  You should be able to get out about even with a small rock to the near side which usually has some birds on it.
  • You should be in 20+' of water.  Drop and swim north-ish over mid-reef.
  • When you're at about 2/3 of a tank, start circling around southeast-ish.  That should take you into a sand channel.  You can follow that south-ish back into the cove.
  • When you hit the end of the sand channel, or in any case if you're in less than 20' of water, pop up to take a quick look at where you are.  Use your compass to set a bearing back to the ramp.  Then swim back during your safety stop.  Vis may drop a lot inside the cove, so stay close to your buddy.
  • People who don't pop up to take a return heading, and don't know the cove really well, usually end up surfacing across the cove from the ramp, and then having to kelp crawl across the shallow murky water of the cove back to the ramp.
  • If buoy 46249 is showing >7' swell, it'll be a bit surgy but still fine.  >9', it'll be a lot surgy.  >11', it's not worth paying for parking at Point Lobos.


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