Overview of Jade Cove

Jade Cove

California Mid
USA West


Jade Cove is an Adventure in all respects! Plan on making this a full day trek, if not spending the night in the area. After making an incredibly beautiful drive up (or down) the coast, be prepared for a mild version of Gorilla diving. The reward? A souvenir piece of jade to take home to display with your other diving trophies. There are regulations to be aware of. A good starting place for web research is here.

A rememberence from Daniel S. McDermed: In 1966 my Dad's hobby was scuba diving, and my grandparents' hobby was making jewlery. In the murky water of Jade Cove, Dad's exploration of a small underwater cave produced a large piece of jade that weighed 17 pounds. I remember a young man offered my Dad 35 dollars a pound for it while my Dad stood there in those chilly waters. Dad said "Thanks but this man has some real plans for this chunk." Much more than the money offered was gained from the retained stone.

Directions: Found 70 miles South of Monterey and 70 miles North of San Luis Obispo, between Gorda and Pacific Valley, on Highway 1.


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11/23/2011 Anonymous (Avg: 3.42 Review) - (no comment)

03/15/2010 Anonymous (Avg: 3.30 Review) - I love jade cove. It's hard to enter and get down the cliff but it is worth it. Plan a good calm day and vis will be good. When I go, it has been like 50 ft vis and is pretty dang amazing.

10/15/2009 Troy Bigelow (Avg: 3.58 Review) - I've dove here between 40 and 50 times. This is the South cove that everyone knows. The hike down/up is tough unless the path has recently been improved. There are rock falls in the area that rarely allow things to stay unchanged very long. Be vary wary entering the water. The beach can be rocky and slippery as well as steep. Wave can be unpredictable and one should take a fair amount of time to observe the wave sets before entry. I've made the three hour drive a number of times and not got in the water due to hazardous surf. Vis is generally poor though I've seen upwards of 40 ft on occasion. Take a flashlight. I've take out many fairly large pieces and one of 750 lbs before the new regs took effect. The S cove is generally shallow to about 25 ft. A few large boulders and areas of sand an pebbles. Best hunting along the shallows to the N and the rocky bed area S/E of the cave rock. The N cove is very good diving but the trek down is much more arduous. I love Jade Cove, N and S. Have fun but take a lot of care and be safe. Rouge waves are not uncommon.

05/27/2009 Jade Diver (Avg: 2.65 Review) - Yes the hike up and down the cliffs is ridiculous. The shore boulder field can snap a leg with one miss step on a slippery or loose rock. After my first tank a family came up to me holding their dying dog, asking where the nearest vet was. Apparently at the wrong place at the wrong time. Another person was being helped out by his friends because his feet were so cut up by the rocks he couldn't walk. DON'T wear sandals dude! If you are bound and determined to go there, go prepared, move slowly and carefully, this is VERY wild country with no medical attention around. In the water the direction of the swells and large swell intervals even when small can throw you into the rocks or pin you under a ledge. Dove here last week and the canopy of bull kelp was so thick and it was so dark I had to use a light to see the gravel beds. Problem was I needed 2 hands to hold onto the thick palm kelp to keep the surge from dragging me in 20 ft. of water. Once a wave had passed, I had to untangle myself from the kelp to continue. Vis was 8-10ft. Forget looking into caves. Two long dives and 3 hikes up and down the cliff yielded 2 handfuls of pebbles. A beach picker vacationing from Indiana found a half pound ocean polished piece in the rocks near the water 10 times better than anything I found. Up at the car I saw a young dude beginning the hike down with a brand new US Divers snorkel kit from Big 5 price tag still on it and I lost it. I told the kid do not go down there unless properly prepared with the right gear and DIVERS ARE NOT LIFEGUARDS!!! What a day, I think I'll stick to spear fishing Willow creek.

04/28/2009 Adam House (Avg: 2.87 Review) - The hike down was a complete workout. I recommend using several trips down. The current was slight, and the kelp was thick out about 40 yards, then OK. Vis was out of this world 75 ft +. There was some Jade but small pieces with no Boulders seen.

04/26/2009 Adrian Traylor (Avg: 3.51 Review) - The last time I did this dive was in late spring/early summer 2008. The hike down the cliff was killer, a lot of the ground that was there the time before had washed out. Finally got down, geared up, fought through the massive amounts of bullwhip kelp and got under. It was worth the effort. Visibility was almost limitless. Low current, lots of life (good amount of jade too). It was one of the best dives I have ever had. Then came the hike out... I would say do this dive, but come with time, experience, and energy because it will make you work for every ounce you get from it.

02/28/2009 Rick from San Mateo (Avg: 3.15 Review) - My girlfriend and I attempted a north Jade cove scuba dive in January as she so wanted to find some green jade. We almost killed ourselves getting down the cliff with scuba gear. Beach entry looked tough, but when a huge elephant seal blocking the beach barked at us, we headed for the hills. The climb back up the hill almost killed us. We ran into a jade hippie near our car and he sold me a piece of Jade. So in the end my girlfriend got her JADE. This location should be considered 'advanced'. If you want Jade, just buy it from the hippie by the car pull-out.

10/07/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 2.73 Review) - Free dove and SCUBA'd here all summer. Found a few small pieces of jade but nothing that justified the time and expense of the trips. Some of the experienced guys that have dived here for years said it was the most 'picked over' and the kelp was thicker than they had ever seen it. Visibility rarely over 8ft. And the surge and current made it tough to keep from banging into the rocks. Occasionally a few rock cod, ling cod but nothing to write home about. Maybe reading all the great testimonies made me build it up in my mind more than I should have, but my experiences have paled in comparison with the other reviewers.

03/18/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 2.42 Review) - (No comment)

03/16/2007 Kale (Avg: 2.84 Review) - I dove in rough surf and poor visibility, about twenty to twenty-five feet. Using my flashlight to help see, I shined it into cave and saw the corner of a piece of Jade sticking out of sand. When I went in and pulled on it, it wouldn't budge. I eventually ran out of air and so had to surface. I went back and worked on getting the rock loose. I finally got it out of the sand and it was too heavy to bring up. I surfaced, removed my weight belt and went back. The third time I was able to bring the rock up. It measures approximately 18 inches long by almost a foot wide, about six inches thick average, and it weighs 32 lbs.

08/26/2005 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 4.16 Review) - This is a not a location for everyone. The hike is brutal with gear, but possible if you are in good shape. We carried all our gear and an extra tank each down in one trip. Then, after our first dive, we carried our empty tank back to the cars. Finally, after our second dive we carried all our remaining gear out (it was killer and my body aches as I write this). The diving, however, was awesome! Visibility was 30+ feet. You will see a 'bird rock' out there and that is where the jade wall cave is. It is very fun looking for jade. We each found some small pieces (nickel sized). We dove 51 and 50 minutes down to 28 feet. On the way back in my buddy speared a 32 inch lingcod. There are bathrooms just around the corner of highway 1 (to the north at the campground or picnic area). Bring drinking water down with you. If you are bringing non-diving friends down to this small rock beach, be advised there is no shade from the summer afternoon sun.

04/04/2005 Paul Richey (Avg: 2.68 Review) - Not for the beginner diver. Unforgiving surf, kelp, low visibility, usually overcast and foggy. No rescue facilities within 60 miles. Poison oak, wood ticks, thieves on the highway.

02/18/2005 Troy (Avg: 4.01 Review) - I've made more than 60 dives here with the vast majority in the south cove. N cove has a more interesting bottom though a much more difficult entry due to the washed out path. One can almost always find jade if you use a light to look in "out of the way" places. Strong surge is the norm and you work mostly in the shallows. Water entry and exit can be challenging. I've helped remove a two ton stone (the old days) and have found a 250lb rock on my own with lots of smaller stones. Good luck and enjoy!

06/27/2004 TJ (Avg: 3.10 Review) - A long but very pretty drive, (from SoCal), Jade Cove is worth the trip. Don't attempt this if you are not in pretty good shape, the hike and entry/exit are tough. Diving through a pass-thru, with walls of solid Jade, is a heck of a payoff! Fair warning, just because it's green rock doesn't mean it's Jade. There is also green and black serpentine everywhere, that is what most of the green rock is.

04/07/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 3.53 Review) - This is referred to as a gorilla dive for a reason, it's tough, I mean really tough. First of all for either the north cove or the south cove the hike is very difficult and you will have to hike down washed out trails down sea cliffs with very loose rocks and poison oak. Be prepared to hike all of your gear and bring some good hiking boots also. The surge is very strong as is the surf and the shore line is predominated by boulders and a small spot of gravel beach. I recommend that you take your time with this one but the benefits are very rewarding. Here at jade cove is one of the few places you can actually hunt for California Blue Jade and it is fairly abundant here to. The fish are huge here and I believe it is one of the few places I have dived in CA where you can see some pristine wildlife due to its inaccessibility. Bring water and food, and maybe a wheel barrel to carry your stuff. Good luck because you will need it.

10/11/2002 Vince Pellerin (Avg: 2.54 Review) - This is a tough dive site due to the 150 yard walk to the cliff edge and the 150 foot vertical drop to get to the site. Conditions will be dangerous in the winter with exposure to the open ocean. The trail is difficult but manageable. The best time to dive is march/April on a calm day after the kelp forests have been torn away by the winter surf. Vis varies from 10-30feet. Jade can be found with diligent search and is worth the effort. Plan on doing at least two tanks as it is 1.5 hours from civilization. Plaskett creek campground is less than a mile away. Good luck on your jade hunt.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM0101


Parking at Jade Cove 

For the few people you'll find here, even on the weekend, there is plenty of parking along the road.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM0102


Trail Head at Jade Cove 

This civilized trail head leads 100 yards to the cliff in the background.

Trail Head



Trail Head at Jade Cove 

Other obstacles await you after another 150 yard down this sometimes slippery slope. Wear your hiking boots, and carry your gear down in several trips.

Trail Head



Trail Head at Jade Cove 

Unless you have four feet, you'll be using your hands to help yourself up and down this portion of the trail.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CM0105


Overview at Jade Cove 

Blue-green water, kelp, jade and a potpourri of creatures await you!




Entry at Jade Cove 

Once you carefully traverse the boulders between the trail and the shore, you'll find a relatively easy entry (on calm days!).

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Jade Cove  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  1.88
Bottom Conditions:  3.25
Reef Conditions:  3.75
Animal Life:  3.56
Plant Life:  3.31
Facilities:  1.31
Solitude 4.19
Roads:  3.13
*Site Average:  3.16

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.38
Beginner Scuba:  1.75
Intermediate Scuba:  2.69
Advanced Scuba:  3.56
Night diving Scuba:  2.06

Number of reviews for this site: 16


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