What's the best time of year to dive?
Conditions in the Monterey Bay area change from day to day. The average visibility in Monterey Bay is 15 feet, visibility at the Carmel dive sites such as Monastery Beach and Pt. Lobos vis is typically better. But visibility is affected by weather, environmental conditions, and specific location within the bay. In general, the Fall and Winter months offer better visibility. Winter storm systems, however, can cause high surge and poor vis. In the late Spring and Summer, there may be the occasional plankton bloom that will reduce visibility. There is also a greater number of divers in the water at this time which may stir things up. On any given day, however, you could experience visibility in excess of 40 feet!
What's the water temperature?
Average water temperature is 53 degrees and may fluctuate plus or minus 5 degrees with thermoclines or seasonal changes. Autumn water is warmest and may reach 58 degrees.
How do I find out about local conditions?
Check our dive conditions line at (831) 657-1020. You can also visit our conditions page.
Can you fill my air tanks?
Tanks with a valid visual inspection sticker (performed annually) and hydrostatic test stamp (performed every 5 years) can be filled. We also fill high pressure tanks (up to 3500 psi).
Do you have Nitrox?
Our Nitrox fill station uses pre-blended enriched air at 32% oxygen, eliminating the need for oxygen-cleaned tanks. We can provide you with a blend of more than 32% O2 if requested, but this requires a custom mix process and so costs slightly more than a Nitrox fill from our pre-blended banks.
What brands of equipment do you carry?
We are an authorized dealer for such top brands as Scubapro, Excel, Bare, Underwater Kinetics, Ikelite, etc. In every case, we have chosen top quality equipment which can withstand the rigors of time and use and thereby give our customers maximum value for their investment in dive equipment. This selection is under constant review, so we invite your suggestions if you believe there is a line of equipment we should carry that we are not offering currently.
What brands of equipment do you rent?
We rent Tilos 2 piece 6.5mm wetsuits; ScubaPro, Sherwood and Aeris BCD’s; Scubapro and Sherwood regulators.
Will I need a dry suit?
If you are new to diving, you should begin with a wetsuit or a semi-dry suit. A good fitting, quality wetsuit will provide adequate thermal insulation for you to be able to enjoy the underwater beauty of Monterey diving. Later, though, as you begin to make deeper dives, longer dives, and to make repetitive dives, you will likely want to consider a dry suit. A dry suit will maintain its thermal protection irrespective of depth, whereas a wet suit compresses with depth and loses some of its insulation ability. And you will be far more comfortable as you prepare for your second and third dives of the day if you are in a dry suit than if you are in a wet suit.
What equipment do I need to dive cold water?
Compared to warm water diving, you will need a much thicker suit (6.5mm or 7mm) and more weight. You will also need a 7mm hood and 5mm booties & gloves.
How much and what kind of weight do I need?
Given the bouyancy of the thick wetsuits or dry suit that cold water requires, we find that a good rule of thumb here is ten percent of your body weight plus ten pounds. (Example, a 200 lb person would need 30 lbs of weight.)
Do I need a dive light or knife?
It’s great to take a light even during day dives as there is lots of life to discover in the crevices. Lights also really bring out the colors at depth and are worth carrying. A knife is recommended in case of entanglement.
Do I get more air if I use an aluminum tank versus a steel tank?
If the volume is the same, i.e. 80 cu ft, the amount of air in the tank is the same.
Tours & Trips
Do you do dive trips?
Do you have a dive boat?
We don’t have our own dive boat, but recommend several operators. Our shop is just minutes from the pier, so renting gear for your boat trip is easy. See our boat diving page for operator information!
How do I schedule a "Discover Local Diving" orientation?
If you are unfamiliar with diving in Monterey, we suggest that you schedule a Discover Local Diving orientation. Perhaps you aren’t used to cold water diving and long surface swims. Our beach entries and exits can be tricky. Not having a good idea of the underwater topography can lead to confusion. An orientation can give you a “quick-start” guide to local diving and increase your enjoyment. We typically need about 1 week’s advance notice to schedule these. Just give us a call at the shop and we’ll arrange for one of our instructors or divemasters to assist you.
What can I see?
The Monterey Sanctuary offers many unique sights. The kelp forests have their own special ecosystem with rockfish, cabezon, nudibranchs, starfish, crabs and all kinds of colorful seaweeds and coryanactis to name a few. Harbor seals and sea lions abound and interaction with them is common. Sea Otters are also common, and whales and dolphins can be seen topside.
Are there sharks in Monterey?
The most common shark seen is the Leopard Shark. They are usually three to four feet long and very skittish of divers. The chance of seeing a large shark is very rare.
What dive sites do you recommend for a beginner / intermediate / advanced diver?
Monterey Bay has plenty of Beginner and Intermediate dive spots. We recommend Breakwater, McAbee, Lover’s Point and Coral Street to name a few. For the advanced diver, further south near Carmel offers great dive sites at Butterfly House, Monastery and Point Lobos (weather permitting).