Monastery Beach is only a short drive from Monterey, California and is known as one of the area’s best shore dives. However, this spot can be very complicated to dive thanks to the steep shoreline and aggressive wave crash zone.
The safest way to do this dive is to enter the water only if the waves are crashing below your thigh level and the weather forecasts don’t show a significant change in conditions during your dive day. Also, learn the Monastery Crawl for a more peaceful water exit.
Something I didn’t mention in my Monastery Crawl video includes entering the water and working with the surge. When getting in, you should have your mask and regulator in place while watching the swell sets. Head into the water after the set, using the outgoing wave to take you through the surf zone. You can swim without your fins to get you into deeper water, but if you’re quick with your fins, it’s better to pop them on and quickly get away from the water movement.
The Dive Site
This is a gorgeous dive site that can rival sites off the channel islands, if the visibility is good. The kelp forest is stunning, and you can easily do deep dives here (which is uncommon along this coast unless you’re diving in Point Lobos). You can stick to the deep wall and kelp forest, or if you’re looking for a shallower yet beautiful dive, you can explore the top of the wall and the northeastern portion of the reef.
Night Diving at Monastery
This can be an intimidating dive site for night dives. First, there are not as many lights on land compared to night diving in Monterey, so I recommend setting out a reference light before hitting the water. I use some outdoor fairy lights and place them around the door of my van. That way, it’s easy to see exactly where my exit point is on the shore.
Rules for entry and exit stay the same, but it’ll be easier to get disoriented in the dark, so keep your mask and regulator in place as you approach the wave zone.