Top Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Ready to check out the best sites in Carmel-by-the-Sea for scuba diving, snorkeling, shore diving, free diving or other ocean activities? Zentacle has 4 dive sites, snorkel spots, beaches, and more. Discover hand-curated maps, along with reviews and photos from nature lovers like you. No matter what you're looking for, you can find a diverse range of the best ocean activities in Carmel-by-the-Sea to suit your needs.
Carmel-by-the-Sea dive site map
Monastery Beach South

#1 - Monastery Beach South

California North, USA West

The most picturesque dive site in the Carmel area, Monastery Beach offers spectacular diving in the rocky, kelp-packed coastline. Do not attempt this dive unless you are advanced, and are comfortable in heavy surf. Head South on Highway 1 out of Carmel. Park at the Southern end of the first roadside beach.
Monastery Beach North

#2 - Monastery Beach North

California North, USA West

This is an easy-access site toward the Southern end of Carmel River State Beach. Come here when the main beach, just to the South, is packed. Because this shoreline is wide open to the Pacific swells, you should consider yourself an advanced diver before negotiating the entry. Head South on Highway 1 out of Carmel. Just as you start to see the first roadside beach, you're there!
Butterfly House

#3 - Butterfly House

California North, USA West

The access path leads down the cliff to a rocky staging area just above the dive site. The dive site is a tricky rocky entry for intermediate to advanced divers only. This is an OCEAN EXPOSED dive site, so, conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared for anything, and, don't get in on a questionable day. However, once you're in the water, this dive site is well worth the effort. Rocky reefs, deep shore diving (60-90 feet) and a rich giant kelp forest are all within easy reach once you are in the water at this site. Bring two or three tanks, and, take your time getting your gear down to the staging area in multiple trips before suiting up to avoid injuries. See for additional information. This site is located just south of Carmel Proper, on Scenic Drive just north of Stewart Way. Proceed South on HWY 1 to Carpenter. Turn right on Carpenter to the For Way Stop at Ocean Avenue. Turn right on Ocean Ave. and follow it all the way down to Scenic. If you miss the left turn onto Scenic, one of two things will happen. Either your car will become hopelessly trapped in the sand, or you will need a regulator to exit your car. (In other words, if you go too far on Ocean, you will be in the ocean). Follow Scenic around until you can see a house that has a roofline that looks like a giant butterfly. That is the dive site. The access path is about 100 feet back towards Carmel.
Monastery Beach

#4 - Monastery Beach

USA, California, Monterrey

Dive site is really two different locations, North beach, which is the wall dive and you can easily hit 130+ ft. Great for photography. No spearfishing is allowed. This is an Advanced dive site with dangerous surf entry and exits. Do not dive if waves are breaking. South Beach, best place for divers new to area. Safest entry/exit when any surf is present. Kelp bed diving. Recommend you start here. It is common to dog walk out during exits as beach is steep and waves break hard. It's known by locals as "The Monastery Crawl". Save plenty of air for exit. A night dive here is for experts only. You can dive this from shore or you can boat dive the kelp forest. Too far of a swim to the kelp from shore. Drops off very quickly from shore. If the wash rock (exposed reef, north end of beach) is being swept by waves (as it often is), it is advised that you dive somewhere else as visiblity will be low and dumping surf during entry/exit will make for not very pleasant, and potentially dangerous, dive conditions. If the conditions are calm, however, the north end is my favorite dive site in Monterey. Night diving from shore is difficult, but in calm conditions, can be amazing. It is very dark here (little external light pollution), so turn around early to make the long swim back in if diving from shore as you can't see the kelp and surface swimming is not pleasant at night through kelp. Monastery Beach is also known as Carmel River State Beach.