Monastery Beach (Carmel River Beach)

Monastery Beach, South Side

This is another one of my favorite divespots. Parking is by the side of the road on Highway 1. The two parking areas are for the north and south side. (The south side is nearest the restrooms.) The surf is generally roughest in the center so most people don't dive there. Besides, there's only a sandy bottom between the reefs and kelp forests on the north and south ends. From the north end, I usually drop down in about 40 feet of water after swimming out on the surface to near the wash rocks. (the rocks that the surf is breaking over) Swimming a bit further out (with a compass heading of 300 degrees or so) brings you to a steep wall and canyon. The depth here increases rapidly, but seems to level out somewhat below 130 feet which is about as deep as I've gone here. Even when the visibility at is only 15 or 20 feet in 40 feet of water, it's often much better at 100 feet. Since it does get a bit dark at this depth, remember to bring a flashlight to look among the rocks. I seem to see a different assortment of shrimp, nudibranchs, and crabs among the rocks that makes every dive here a new experience. If you're doing a deep dive, make sure you keep track of your air and bottom time; it's easy to forget while staring at some critter hidden in the rocks. Entry and exit can be quite interesting depending on the surf conditions. It's a good idea to watch the waves for a while and to time your entry/exit accordingly. The surf on the south side seems to be a bit gentler, but I've always found the north side more interesting. The south end doesn't drop off as steeply as the north so you'll be in about 40-50 feet of water for probably around 500 feet from the beach. The rocks and reefs underneath the kelp on the south side is interesting to explore though.