The Colder the Better

Central California diving is coveted as some of the best cold water diving in the world.  The kelp forest provide a unique environment that can only be found in California.  Diving in the kelp forest should be in every divers bucket list, and while many divers will make the trip to monterey and dive Breakwater, my suggestion is to head a little further south to Carmel.  Carmel is not as frequently dived and the structure that can be found on many dive sites is unparalleled.  monolobo #3With all of this being said there are a few misconceptions people have about diving in California.  First California diving is completely different from diving anywhere else in the world.  If you are not familiar with Monterey or Carmel I highly recommend hiring a guide they will help with gear and help you find the little treasures that hide in all the different nooks and crannies.  Second, the summer is the worst time to dive,  because of plankton blooms in the summer visibility degrades in the summer, the swells tend to be much lighter in the summer but this lack of movement allows the water to become stagnant.  Third, the water is cold no matter the time of year, average yearly highs in Monterey are in the mid 50’s while Lows are in the mid 40’s, average temperature is 50 degrees.  The best time to dive California is in the winter and spring, winter storms wash out all the junk that collects during the fall.  Cold water is also a sign of upwelling, meaning that cold very clear water is coming up from deeper waters to replace surface waters displaced by winds.  Upwelling normally occurs in the winter and spring along the California coast.  The divers that are well prepared (usually the drysuit divers) are able to capitalize on PIC_0101these cold waters and on occasion find visibility of 60-150 ft.  While many divers who are used to warm water and consistent visibility this may not sound amazing, but along the coast average visibility is about 20ft and can be as bad as 2 ft at times.  So when reports of 100ft visibility are heard it is not uncommon to see divers flood the waters.  So when you hear that the water temp is reaching its seasonal low its time to pick up your gear and get in the water.

South Monastery Beach Night Dive

IMG_0444I had the opportunity recently to try something that I have not done before as a part of this night dive.  Although I have done many night dives, and even a few at South Monastery beach this one was special because we decided to complete this dive off of kayaks.  With the ability to travel to our site on the kayaks we were able to greatly extend our dive time and avoid the cold temperatures of 49 degrees.  The kayaks allowed us to reach one of my favorite pinnacles at South Monastery its not super far from shore but much farther than i would have preferred to swim at night.  It was amazing to see one of my favorite sites in Carmel at night.  The dynamic changes, the rock fish begin to stir, the crabs scurry across the rocks and sand.  I managed to find a wolf eel deep in a hole that unfortunately did not want to come out and say hello.  The visibility was great for a night dive close to 30ft, mainly due to the recently calm north west swell.  We could not have asked for better conditions to test out our first kayak night dive.  The dive was beautiful and well worth the effort of the kayaks, the true test was the end of the dive.  with overcast skies it was pitch black with only the light of passing cars on the highway as a reference to shore.  Aside from the normal uneasy feelings of night dives, this night dive is one of my favorites of Carmel Bay and Monastery Beach.