Spanglers Scuba icon
100% Dolphin approved scuba lessons and underwater photography
100% Dolphin approved scuba lessons and underwater photography

Monterey State Beach panorama
Also frequently called Del Monte Beach (though really, Del Monte Beach is farther north), or McMuffin Beach (because of the McDonald's across the street). If you want to be really technical about it, the portion close to the wharf is Monterey Municipal Beach, and run by the city not the state.

Dive Sites

The Sailboat

Bow of the sailboat
The sailboat collapsed in big storms during the first half of 2017. It is now a big pile of broken concrete about 150 yards offshore in about 25 fsw. The good news is that that pile gives critters a lot more hiding spots, so it's full of life.

The upper deck partially collapsed in winter 2016. This allowed waves to push inside the hull in winter 2017 and flex it back and forth until it failed.

Prior to that, it was one of the few accessible wrecks in the Monterey area, visible from the surface on good days.

I use a Nautilus Lifeline to find the sailboat via GPS. See below for coordinates. Start out on a 45 heading from the beach near the pier, or a 20 heading from McMuffin.

Some rough sight lines from the sailboat:

When swimming to or from the sailboat, watch out for kayaks. Monterey Bay Kayaks does frequent group tours. If visibility is poor, send up a DSMB and wait a minute before surfacing.

Calliostoma canaliculatum (Channeled Top Snail)

The Amtrack

This is the rusted out hulk of a World War II amtrack (fully tracked personnel carrier). It's 40 yards from the sailboat on a 220 heading. It also suffered during the storms of 2016 and 2017. The turret has dropped into the body, and the sides of the body have partially collapsed. As of September 2018, the turret is exposed, though the sand level can shift up and down by a couple feet over the course of the year.

There was an orange line running from the sailboat to the amtrack in Summer 2014, but it was washed out by storms in December 2014.

Neoclinus uninotatus (Onespot Fringehead)
Look in the rubble for fringeheads

Municipal Wharf

There is a huge amount of life on the concrete wall on the first part of the wharf, and on each of the pilings of the deeper parts of the wharf. The concrete wall also makes for decent snorkeling; it's sheltered from waves and surge, and is shallow enough.

You can swim along the outside of the pilings, but swimming underneath the pier or going into the harbor is not allowed without harbormaster permission (which is rarely given these days). See Monterey City municipal code sections 17-3g, 17-4h. If you look up and can't see light, you're under the pier; swim east until it gets light again.

Loxorhynchus crispatus (Masking Crab)
The fishermen on the wharf are sometimes jerks. If you want to dive the pier, I recommend either starting out right next to the concrete wall and dropping down before you hit the end of it, or starting out well south of the first line of mooring balls. I usually swim to the yellow buoy and drop there, then head north to the pilings. Or swim out to one of the sailing boat mooring balls, descend, and head west. Make sure you have a line cutter (or dive shears or knife) in case you get hooked.

Watch out for boats above you when surfacing near the mooring balls, or near the pilings.

Also note that the wharf bends midway out. The safe heading back is not parallel to the first part of the pier, but to the second part of the pier. This is particularly important if you go off the end of the pier, where heading back south will take you inside the harbor!

Shore Information

If you're headed for the sailboat:

If you're diving the wharf: In either case, entry to the water is very easy. The beach is a wide open, slowly sloping sand beach.


Annotated map of Monterey State Beach

(click on image for larger map)

GPS Coordinates

Google Maps

Photo Albums

Other Information

Inside Locations: EarthEastern PacificCaliforniaMonterey AreaMonterey
Marine Life: Monterey State Beach Marine Life
This website uses cookies. By closing this banner or continuing to view the website, you are agreeing to the use of cookies for this purpose, as detailed in our Privacy Policy.
Accept Cookies