Guided Dives

Interested in guided dives for a group, or just for yourself?  Want to learn more about the phenomenal variety of marine life in the area?  Haven't done cold water diving, and want to try it with a professional?

I guide small groups (maximum 4 divers) on two tank adventures in Monterey.  I can take you to a range of local dive sites based on your skill and comfort level.

Ready to get started? Send me e-mail at scuba@spanglers.com to make a reservation.

2021 Current Rates

Monterey 2-tank $130 (1 diver) or $105 / person (2-4 divers)
(if additional divers sign up, you pay the 2-4 diver rate instead)
Point Lobos 2-tank
(currently unavailable - see below)
$180 (1 diver) or $155 / person (2-4 divers)
(includes Point Lobos reservation and State Parks permit fees)
Boat diving Customers pay guide's spot on the boat.
Night diving Same rate!  Just meet later.
(you'll need a light; I rent them if you don't have your own)
Add third dive +$50 / person
Dive light rental (new!) +$10 / person
Add PADI Specialty course +$85 / person (2 dive specialty)
+$110 / person (3 dive specialty)
+$135 / person (4 dive specialty)
Guaranteed private tour +$50 (flat rate for 1-4 divers)
Pool session $105 (1 diver) or $75 / person (2-4 divers)
(up to 3 hours: scuba refresher, snorkeling lesson, etc.)
(Diver Dan's charges a separate $25 pool fee for use of their gear)
Classroom session $75 (1 diver) or $50 / person (2+ divers) 
(up to 3 hours: photo editing lesson, etc.)
Enriched Air Diver course $100 / person
(3 hours: classroom, measuring tanks, PADI certification)
Add PADI Advanced Open Water course +$160 / person
(Requires a total of 5 guided dives: Underwater Navigation, Deep, and three other adventure dives - Night, Boat, Peak Performance Buoyancy, etc.  If you already have a PADI specialty or two, I only charge for the dives we need to do.)

What's a day of diving look like?  Our schedule is flexible because I only take small groups, but to give you an idea:
  • 8:00 am - Meet at beach for paperwork and dive briefing. 
  • 9:00 am - Dive #1
  • 10:30 am - Talk about what we saw on the first dive.
  • 11:30 am - Dive #2
  • 1:00 pm - Talk about what we saw on the second dive. Stamp logbooks (I've got a pretty stamp).
Reservations recommended.  No refund for cancellations <24 hours before tour start (including no-shows), unless I can fill your spot.

Equipment rental not included; I recommend Diver Dan's if you're coming from the Bay Area or Aquarius if you're already in Monterey.

COVID-19 Status Update

As of July 1st, I'm back guiding and teaching, using guidelines developed by PADI and Divers Alert Network for your safety and mine:
  • Before you leave your house
    • If you are not feeling well or have any symptoms of COVID-19, or you have had close contact with someone who has, please let me know and we'll reschedule.  I'll waive cancellation fees in this case.
  • Before and after the dive
    • All briefings and buddy checks will be conducted outdoors at a safe physical distance.
    • Please bring and wear a mask during pre-dive / post-dive activities, especially if you're not vaccinated.
    • I recommend bringing hand sanitizer and/or your own soap and water; not all bathrooms in Monterey have them.
  • During the dive
    • We need to enter and exit at a safe physical distance.  This means we need to be a little more conservative when choosing a beach and assessing conditions.
    • Once we're underwater, the risk of contamination is minimal.
We'll also be following all regulations from Monterey County and the city we're diving in (Monterey, Pacific Grove, or Carmel-by-the-Sea).

Closures (last update: October 2021):
  • Point Lobos has still not reissued vendor permits, so guided dives are unavailable there (from me, or anyone else) for all of 2021.  More information below.
  • Diver Dan's pool has reopened!  All scuba classes are available again!
  • First Aid / CPR classes are available if you're fully vaccinated.  Class sizes are limited, and skills will be done outside.

East Beaches

These all have easy shore entry, and a variety of underwater terrain from reefs to rock walls to pier pilings.  They're protected from the usual northwest swell, so are diveable year-round.  Dives are shallower; most dives are above 50'.

Monterey State Beach: A gently sloping beach.  I usually dive the Sailboat on the first dive; this is one of the only wrecks in the area.  The second dive is along the pilings of the municipal wharf; there are lots of crabs and sea snails, and every piling is its own mini ecosystem.

San Carlos Beach: One of the best beaches on the east side.  There are lots of nudibranchs on the rock wall of the breakwater.  Mid-reef has kelp forest, with lots of crabs and fish.  I like to go out the big pipe to the metridium fields - giant white anemones the size of your forearm.  You may have done your open water training dives here, but there's a lot more to see.

McAbee Beach: About halfway between San Carlos Beach and the aquarium.  A mix of shale and sand.  Herman the Seal has been known to play with divers' fins.

North Beaches

These are a bit more exposed beaches to the north and northwest.  Dives are still shallow, above 50'.  Entry and exit can be challenging if the northwest swell is kicking up, so these are a little more challenging than the east beaches (but still no more than moderate difficulty).

Lovers Point: This is actually two sites.  I like to dive Lovers #3.  We can head around to the northeast around the point, through a series of sand-floored shale canyons.  There are lots of sandcastle worms.  This is a good spot to look for bat rays and skates.  I also like to swim across one of the densest sand dollar beds you've ever seen over towards Otter Cove.  Entry is down stairs and across some boulders to a sand beach.

Coral Street: Swim over shale covered in sea grasses to mixed sand and rocks.  This has somewhat different sea life than the other beaches, due to the sea grasses and greater exposure to waves and currents.

Point Lobos

Point Lobos is a spectacular dive site, with the best kelp forest in the area.  Entry is an easy walk down a ramp from the parking lot at Whaler's Cove.  The cove itself is shallow, with kelp growing from patches of rock mixed with sand.  Mid-reef has an amazing array of life on its rocks.  A bit farther out, Granite Point Wall has all sorts of ledges and small caves that harbor bigger fish.

If we go out to the end of mid-reef or Granite Point we can get below 60', but most of the time we'll be above 50'.

Diving at Point Lobos is limited to a small number of dive teams a day, and reservations are required.  Professional guides must have a State Parks Vendor Permit (which I had until they were suspended due to COVID; see below).

Current Availability

Nobody can guide dives at Point Lobos.  Vendor Permits were suspended in 2020 and have not been renewed.  You can dive there recreationally with a buddy after paying a reservation fee, but you may not pay that buddy.  The most you can do is buy the reservation and carpool down to save on gas and parking.  The dive coordinators at Point Lobos recognize us guides and check up on us.  Anyone taking money under the table is risking their access to the park (even as a recreational diver).

So no, you can't pay me to guide you at Point Lobos.  I'd like to, but I can't.

I do enjoy diving here for fun, and I may be willing to join an experienced diver or group.  But since I can't accept compensation to offset the expense of driving down and tank fills, it has to be sufficiently fun for me too.  I'll be bringing my big camera, swimming waaaay out, and planning two 60+ minute dives.  Bonus points if we carpool from the Bay Area.

Here's some more information:
  • December 2019: Vendor permits for 2020 were processed as normal, at a $250 cost to guides.
  • March 2020: California State Parks closed due to COVID-19.
  • August 2020: Recreational diving reopened.  State Parks suspended all vendor permits, indicating they would transfer the permit fee to 2021.
  • July 2021: New permit process still under review with State Parks Superintendent Sean James.
And that's the last information I've been able to get from Point Lobos or State Parks.  They haven't responded to my email since July.

If you'd like to help prod State Parks and Point Lobos to resume guided dives, here's who to contact:


Boat Diving

We'll meet at K Dock and do two boat dives from the Escapade, one of the faster dive boats in Monterey.  Many of the best sites like Hopkins Deep and the pinnacles around Carmel are only reachable by boat.  This is the same boat I use for teaching Advanced Open Water.  Dives can be deeper; the first dive can be down to 80-100'.  The captain is great about picking a site that everyone on the boat can dive, so we have some flexibility if you'd like an easier site.  I can also lead dives off any of the other dive boats in the area.  (additional fee applies)

Monastery Beach

Monastery Beach is an exposed northwest-facing beach with a steeper slope down into the water.  It's often not diveable due to waves, but when it is, it's got some of the best visibility in the area.  South Monastery has a kelp forest and shale going down to the sand, and is a great place to see abalone.  North Monastery is more exposed rock going down all the way into the mile-deep underwater Monterey Canyon (we will not go that deep).  I teach the Deep Diving specialty here.  This is a more advanced dive, due to the slope of the beach and potentially deep dives.  It's also one you want to dive the first time with an experienced guide.

Night Diving

A whole different world of critters comes out at night.  See octopus, phosphorescent algae, shrimp, and more.

I almost always do these dives at San Carlos Beach, since it has a great variety of life and easy navigation at night.

I can also do this dive as a fluorescence dive.  We'll take blue lights down with us and use yellow mask filters to see the cup corals, anemones, and crabs glow in bright oranges, yellows and greens.