South Monastery Beach

Highway 1, south of Carmel
Free parking along Highway 1
Sandy beach, no rocks

Monastery is a long beach located just north of Point Lobos. There are two distinct sites located here: North Monastery and South Monastery. This page describes the south end. For information about the northern end of the beach, click here.

This site is known for hazardous conditions. The steep slope of the beach results in pounding plunging waves which immediately break onto the sand with a lot of force. Waves that are only knee-high have the potential for knocking you down, so assessing conditions and performing a proper entry is extremely important at this site. There are many opinions regarding the “proper” method for entering this site. Some advocate entering while wearing your fins, while others prefer to don their fins after passing the surf zone. Rather than preach my preference (and risk offending others) I will leave it up to you and your instructor to determine the entry of your choice. But no matter how you prefer to enter, be sure that you observe the surf before you enter, and time the entry during the smaller sets of waves, and once committed to an entry, pass through the surf zone quickly. If the waves appear large pick another site and return here when conditions calm down. As the photo shows, this site has its calm days, so avoid the questionable days.

Compared the the northern end of this beach, the southern end is much shallower, and usually calmer. The reef on this end also has many more channels and swim-throughs to explore. Be careful though, as venturing too far into the reef can lead you to shallow surgy waters.