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Bay Area Scuba Lovers Message Board Suggestions Forum › More diverse Beginner dive sites

More diverse Beginner dive sites

A former member
Post #: 8
I joined this group a few months ago, but havn't really seen any dives for beginner/novices that aren't located in Monterey Breakwater. I'd love to explore other beginner sites. For those of us who have a few dives under our belt, but aren't quite at the intermediate stage yet, this would be a great way to learn about more sites and get more comfortable. I'm also relatively new to California (moved here Nov of last year), so I'm not to familiar with any dive sites outside of the breakwater.

rachel the w.
Santa Clara, CA
Post #: 77
Hi Audiva,

Breakwater is really the best beach for novice and reentry divers. I don't know of any others that are so well suited to getting familiar with your gear in a safe environment. i think that you will find that as you become familiar with your gear the wall dive and the pipelines are actually very diverse and colorful dives!

Rachel the wombat
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 5
The other two sites I can think of for a reentry dive are not as good:

Unless you can find street parking or get the El Toro to let you park at their lot, there is a bit of a hike from the nearest pay parking lot going to McAbee. With two tanks, suit, bc, weight, and other stuff. No unloading allowed at the trailhead leading to the beach. No thanks!

Del Monte is seriously boring unless you can find the wrecks which are around 400 yards out. Flat, shallow, and lots of sand. I have been told that you can hunt halibut there as it's outside of the spear fishing exclusion zones.
user 8266134
Santa Clara, CA
Post #: 24
Hi Audiva,

I understand your desire for greater diversity in sites and conditions. While I agree with Rachel that Breakwater is really the ideal location for the Newbie dives and has more to offer each time you dive it, I know that the Monterey/Carmel area (especially Carmel) has much more to offer than only Breakwater. Furthermore, there's wonderful diving up along the north coast.

We don't schedule north coast activities primarily because it's extremely difficult to motivate people to drive the 3 hours (each way) for diving that would be better in Carmel anyways. I make occasional dive trips up there on my own, but it's more for the isolation, excitement, and beauty inherent to diving up there, than the sights below. However, given appropriate lead time to schedule, I'm always happy to head up there in a less official capacity with an interested group of divers.

Speaking more specifically to novice diving, my recommendation would be to sign up for dives that aren't billed as the newbie dives, but don't specify an experience level beyond your comfort zone. I lead night dives (admittedly, they too are often in the BW area, but nighttime transforms everything) that are catered to all skill/experience levels, and we just recently conducted a boat trip to Carmel which also catered to multiple experience levels. I plan to add more of those soon.

If you have suggestions for dives catered to those with less experience but aren't skills specific, feel free to message me. I'll be happy to set up something like that at a non-BW site. In the summertime, Carmel has calm surface conditions which provide good practice for more advanced shore diving. Let me know if you'd be interested in something like that, and we'll get it put on the calendar.

Thanks for your feedback, Audiva. Let's make it happen.

Aaron B.
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 4
I'm late to the party here and the original poster has already left the group. Hopefully somebody still finds this and finds it useful.

I just pulled out my handy "A Diver's Guide to Monterey County, California" that you can find in any local dive shop. According to them, here are the six local Novice beach dives: Del Monte Beach, Breakwater, Hidden Beach, McAbee, Stillwater Cove, and Whaler's Cove.

Here's how I would rank them (mileage may vary):
1) Whaler's Cover (Point Lobos - requires advance reservations)
2) Breakwater. Ditto to other comments that there is a ton to see and do here.
3) McAbee
4) Del Monte Beach

My brain just includes Hidden Beach with Breakwater. I consider Stillwater a boat dive. I'd probably add Lover's 1 and 2 as appropriate for new divers (though you'll need to pay close attention to navigation). I'd put it between Breakwater and McAbee on my list.
Stan S.
user 94456202
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 1
If surf conditions and direction are good, I would add:

5) Coral Street- if conditions are calm this can be a beginner's romp or crawl through the kelp and becomes intermediate if divers venture out to the offshore reef during times of no current.
6) Lover's cove. Entry inside the cove.
7) Monastery Beach South if conditions are mild (but NOT M. north)
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