Alex Matsumoto's Dive Log
Monastery Beach North on 9/21/2009
Sep 21, 2009, 12:00 AM
Monastery is the best shore diving in the Monterey area for experienced, physically fit divers. The Monterey Canyon can be reached with a short 50-75 yard swim off the beach and divers can easily go as deep as they dare. The wildlife is abundant, diverse and breathtaking and visibility ranges from 15' to 100' but averages around 30'-60'. However the waves, surge and depth can make this beach extremely dangerous unless you are one with your gear, know how to handle the conditions and know your limits. On calm days anyone can dive here, but those days are infrequent. Most of the time this dive is an intermediate dive with 2-3' waves. Occasionally it is an advanced dive with 4-5' waves and anything over that should be avoided. I personally dive here almost every weekend in the summer and have made some entries/exits that most would probably describe as nuts. On one occasion I lost my regulator, had a dump valve stuck open so my BC wouldn't inflate (sand) and was stuck in 4' surf at 8' depth. Holding your breath underwater in heavy surf wearing 50 lbs of gear without buoyancy is a very real situation you may have to face on this beach and you must be mentally and physically prepared for such a worst-case scenario. Luckily for me, I dive frequently enough to keep my cool underwater and can hold my breath for 2.5 minutes if necessary. I switched to my secondary air source and took a few breaths. I then removed my BC and held on to the shoulder strap leaving me in an inverted, hand-stand position. I found my primary regulator while clutching my BC, then simply dragged the whole mess back onto the beach. After that my buddy recovered the fin I dropped, I washed out the sand and went back out on a fantastic dive. Let my experience be a warning to all you divers that dive infrequently or aren't well experienced with beach diving. Avoid Monastery unless it is calm and you have an experienced beach diver to guide you. Remember that nobody can rescue you in heavy surf. Never dive Monastery solo.
Moby Ling Cove on 11/15/2009
Nov 15, 2009, 12:00 AM
There are three beaches around Soberanes Point in Garrapata State Park. Two are a steep hike over dirt and the other is a treacherous climb (see map). I dove the third beach so skip to the third paragraph to read about diving, the first two talk about accessing the two other beaches. <br>1. The north most beach is the treacherous one, access it through gate #8 across from the barn. The pathway down is in a grove of Cypress trees (the only one) to the left of the entrance. The path begins as a narrow, steep dirt trail which changes into a large stone outcropping rising 30 feet from the water. If you climb down this outcropping you arrive at the northern most beach. The water here appears fairly shallow from the cliff, haven't dived there yet. <br>2. The second beach is accessed through the #9 turnout. Follow the trail right and hang a left on the pathway that takes you toward the ocean facing side of whale peak. Continue along the path making a left at the wooden fence posts and you will see the beach. The second beach has two paths leading down to it, the southern one being the easier. The hike to this beach takes 7-10 min. This beach faces westward and is pretty exposed, so a calm day will help ensure a good dive. Haven't dived there yet, but it looks pretty good. <br>3. The third beach is harder to access than the second, but being southern facing and protected, it is the calmest. To get there park at turnout #10 and follow the trail. There is a small unmarked side-trail on the left as you walk down the main trail and this is the entrance. The side-path is steep and made of loose dirt so I wouldn't attempt it with heavy gear nor without a buddy to help hand stuff up/down to. Looking out from the beach is a nice protected cove with good diving/hunting from 10'-40'. Within the cove there is a large sand channel down the center and some very nice boulder fields and towering rock formations on the sides that support some good fish life. The outer edge of the cove is marked by two large exposed rock formations straddling the way to the open sea. Beyond the rocks the waves are larger and divers are exposed to the ocean. Depth outside the rocks ranges from 20'-60'. The thing that struck me when diving here was the size of the fish. The lined, rainbow, pile, black and rubberlip perch I saw here were twice the size I'm used to seeing around Monterey. In addition there was an abundance of black and yellow rockfish, blue rockfish and kelp greenling also markedly larger than I'm used to seeing in Monterey/Carmel. Visibility was excellent at 60+ feet and the diving was beautiful and spearfishing productive. Great quiet place to get away from the overcrowded and overfished Monterey area and enjoy some largely untouched underwater habitat.