San Carlos Beach (The Breakwater)

Location: Foam St. and Cannery Row, Monterey.
Parking: Meters and pay parking ($8 for all-day)
Experience Level: Novice
Depth: 10-50ft
Entry: Sandy beach with scattered rocks

If you're a Monterey diver, then no doubt you've dove the breakwater. Most classes are conducted at this site for a variety of reasons including calm conditions, great facilities, and nearby dive shops. Opinions about this site vary. Many avoid it like the plague because of the mass of divers and limited visibility. Others, like myself, appreciate it for the wealth of life and variety of dive environments. Here are my preferred dives at the breakwater.

The Breakwater

My preferred dive at this site is the breakwater itself. The portion past the bend offers the option to dive as deep as 50 feet on those days when shallow visibility is limited, although there isn't much life at the bottom of the breakwater. My preferred depth is 15-25 feet. At this depth there is lots of color on the rocks, and on most days, huge schools of fish below the kelp canopy. Worth noting is that this is one of the few areas in Monterey where blacksmith are plentiful, and when I see schools of these fish surrounding me, I usually forget about the limited visibility. Another advantage of this area is the lack of students, especially as you travel closer to the end of the breakwater. Instead of students, you'll find sea lions, and on a lucky day, they'll put on a great show for you.

The Barge

Off the end of the breakwater lies the remains of a wooden barge. I had the opportunity to dive this site once off the Escapade when swells were too large for any other site in the area. This reef is nudibranch heaven! Unfortunately, the line-ups that used to be used to locate the site no longer exist, so I do not know how to locate it If you know how to find it, I'd appreciate instructions!

The Pump Pipe

There is a pump house on the left side of the beach, and a large pipe extends from it that travels out to about 40 feet of depth. Most people use this pipe to navigate to the metridium fields, and ignore the interesting kelp forests that the pipe intersects.


California Diving News Review: Breakwater
California Diving News Review: Breakwater at Night
California Diving News Review: Hidden Beach Review

Photos from Breakwater

More photos from Breakwater

Recent Dive Reports from Breakwater

Date: 2014-01-26
Posted By: mattcrisp
Comments: adv
Date: 2013-02-10
Vis: 5
Swells: Medium
Posted By: mattcrisp
Comments: Low vis, but surface conditions not too bad
Date: 2013-01-26
Vis: 20
Swells: Large
Posted By: mattcrisp
Comments: Horrible surface conditions, but great vis once you're underwater.