Overview of Heisler Park

Heisler Park

California South
USA West


If you have non-divers with you, this is a wonderful park for them to hang out; they will soak in as much beauty above water, as you will below!

Directions: Make a left on Cliff Drive about 1/4 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. Drive to the Western end of the park.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

08/27/2011 Jesse Rorabaugh (Avg: 3.73 Review) - I broke my spear gun and decided that I should just snorkel around this reserve for the afternoon. I dove at the very south end of the park near where the 133 dead ends into the 1. The start of the dive was pretty uneventful. Despite calm conditions it was really murky. Eventually I figured out that the place to be was on the inside of a small chain of rocks 100 to 200 feet out. The largest of these shows up on satellite image as being the largest rock in the reserve which makes the location easy to return to. These rocks helped block the waves which improved visibility. The place was crawling with small sharks. I saw at least twenty leopard sharks, a horn shark, and a shovelnose shark. They were all pretty small, three feet being typical. Still, I saw more sharks there than in all my other diving combined. There also was some other impressive marine life. The cracks in the rocks are full of sea urchins, lobster and even a few large abalone. Additionally I saw a baby halibut and a large number of perch and kelp bass. The water was shallow. I never hit water deeper than about twenty feet, although I did not go out all that far. All the sharks I saw were in only eight or ten feet of water. Therefore this is a better place to snorkel than scuba dive, although on a calm day it would make a reasonable beginner scuba site.

09/25/2010 Doug from Cucamonga (Avg: 4.32 Review) - A great dive spot! There's lots to see (both in terms of plant life and animal life) all in fairly shallow water (average depth is around 20ft, although it will get down to around 50ft if you go to the Southside of the kelp forest). It's one of the few Laguna spots where you can just keep going...meaning once you head out a hundred yards or so from shore, drop down and head out east and you can go for a really long way before you run out of stuff to see. Couple of downsides to this spot though...tends to have bigger surf than other Laguna spots, and the walk down to the beach sucks (sucks even more walking back up). When conditions are good, this is a great site.

09/24/2009 Jay (Avg: 3.25 Review) - I arrived Shaw's/Diver's cove around 1pm. It was forecasted to be around 90 degrees and sunny. However - upon arrival there was a very dense marine layer. Could hardly make out the water from the road above. So I headed up to Corona Del Mar 5 miles North. (see that review)

03/19/2008 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.62 Review) - Much like Diver's Cove. Nice beach area and a good dive. Saw various fish out to about 30 feet. A little more rock formation/plant life on the bottom than Diver's Cove.

12/21/2004 Kimberly Woods (Avg: 3.77 Review) - This spot is best for skin diving since many cool things can be seen from the surface or within 10' from the surface. The best spots are in shallow water, including an arch, which is better to dive at high tide. In the shallow waters there are some interesting channels to swim through that are abundant with critters, including abalone. If you don't mind surge, this is a fun spot to dive when you just want to go sightseeing.

12/08/2003 Edward J. Palumbo (Avg: 3.66 Review) - Much than can be said about adjacent Diver's Cove applies to Heisler Park (also known as Picnic Beach) but the this site exhibits a difference in bottom contour and vegetation, and I think a better variety and abundance of marine life. It is also included in the marine reserve and I was advised that nothing may be taken from the water. I found dorids and nudibranches on the rocks on a springtime visit. There were some gorgonian sea fans and limpets on the rocks, as well as sole or halibut on the sandy patches. There were blue-banded gobies on the kelp holdfasts. Garibaldi, blacksmith, senorite wrasse, opaleye and other fish were sufficient in number to make this a worthwhile dive. Swimming to the south, to the left of my shore entry, I found a thicker growth of kelp in approx. 30 ft depth. Entries and exits can be difficult when the surf is up. This beach is very crowded with sun worshippers during the summer months, when classes are out, and simply finding a parking space is challenge. Parking on Cliff Drive (overlooking the beach) is metered. This site is a good choice to bring nondiving family members, because there are restrooms, a shower and picnic tables available. Traffic in Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway is very dense during the warmer months, but there are interesting shops, galleries and restaurants throughout the city. If you're a diver who balances time under the surface with quality family time, this site can cover both priorities.

06/09/2002 Tyler (Avg: 3.39 Review) - Rocky entry was a little difficult, considering that some rocks come up to the surface. Life was quite good, but it's a reef.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS0401


Parking at Heisler Park 

Parking is limited to the metered spaces, so bring a big handful of quarters. The trail head is just to the right.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CS0402


Trail Head at Heisler Park 

You can see why this is also known as Rock Pile.




Overview at Heisler Park 

This is a view of the entire cove from further East. The stairs are in the background.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CS0404


Entry at Heisler Park 

Although quite rocky below, you'll be able to find a channel out. Do not dive this area unless conditions are perfect, and you are comfortable negotiating rocky shores. Remember that this is a marine preserve. Shoot only pictures!

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Heisler Park  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.14
Bottom Conditions:  3.71
Reef Conditions:  4.00
Animal Life:  4.00
Plant Life:  3.57
Facilities:  3.86
Solitude 2.86
Roads:  3.71
*Site Average:  3.68

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.29
Beginner Scuba:  3.57
Intermediate Scuba:  3.86
Advanced Scuba:  3.14
Night diving Scuba:  3.43

Number of reviews for this site: 7


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