Overview of Whalers Cove (Point Lobos)

Whalers Cove (Point Lobos)

California North
USA West


Located in Point Lobos State Reserve, Whalers Cove is the most coveted dive location is this area. The highly restricted access of the Park creates an environment teaming with marine life. You must make reservations well in advance to enter, and must register with the gate before diving in. A complete set of rules and regulations, diving locations, and a reservation form may be found here.

Directions: Drive South on Highway 1 from Carmel, past Monastery beach. You will see the entrance on your right.


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03/27/2018 Brian Xavier (Avg: 4.27 Review) - Finally got to dive Lobos and we picked a really terrible day. The swell was up and the visibility was way down. Off the boat ramp the visibility was maybe five feet. When we found the sand channel we went out to about 50 feet and the vis was about 20 feet. Swam against a strong current coming back in. Rough day, but we're coming back soon.

05/15/2012 Keith Middlekauff (Avg: 4.59 Review) - First time to Point Lobos and it was fantastic. This was my 10th dive and is by far the best dive yet. Visibility was around 50' and the colors were amazing and the life was abundant. Kelp forest was awe inspiring. Surface swam into the sand channel and descended. Took a 30 degrees heading to some granite walls and returned on a reciprocal heading. Water temp was 50 degrees, so be prepared. I was OK in my 7mm one piece but my buddy had a 7mm farmer john rental that had zippers on the legs. Those zippers would not stay shut and she got very cold.

02/05/2011 Pettyfogger (Avg: 5.00 Review) - Whaler's Cove is the gateway to all of Point Lobos' unbelievably rich and pristine walls, pinnacles, and kelp forests. The cove itself, with about a thirty foot depth, is fine for snorkeling and beginning divers. The only place that you can legally enter in this highly patrolled and regulated dive site is the boat ramp located at the parking lot at Whaler's Cove. Small inflatables use this ramp for launching, so take care when you're in the water and you see a boat moving in or out of the cove. There is an underwater swim-through at the entrance ramp at Coal Chute Cove, and it is fine for intermediates and above (you can see all the way through it from both sides). Whaler's itself does not have the best visibility, but it makes up for it with dependably calm conditions. If there's a swell breaking on the South beach, skip diving that day, since the viz in Whaler's will be zip and outside the cove will be far to rough for diving. I have carefully mapped Whaler's from the cove out to the Cannery Pinnacles. There is a sand channel starting directly in the middle of the entrance of Whaler's leading almost directly North. Kelp cannot grow on sand, so there is a dependable open channel in between the kelp beds which leads to the much more exotic and features of the underwater preserve. It's a good kick just to get to Cannery Wall, which is located outside of Whaler's and to the West. A great dive is to drop down from the channel to the sand, turn West, and go under the most beautiful overhead (kelp) you'll ever see. You can fin right up to fish, and they hardly move until you among them. Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions abound. I once had a school of rockfish completely surround me throughout the dive, either out of curiosity, or trying to look like too big a mouthful for a Great White to handle. I like diving alone here, though it's illegal to do so. I love the solitude and not having another diver scarring the sea life when I'm trying to video. DO NOT swim in between the rocks and the cliffs at Cannery Point to try to get to Bluefish Cove. Rogue waves come out of nowhere at Point Lobos, if you get caught there, it'll turn into sashimi faster than you read this. Attempt Bluefish, the Pinnacles, or other spots farther out only by boat (and you can only use a boat which has been launched at the Lobos ramp. There are toilets and a cold water hose at the ramp parking lot - that's extent of the amenities. Make you reservations early, as this place fills up quick, particularly for weekenders. During the middle of the week is the hot ticket, IMHO, 'cuz you'll have the whole place to your self (and to me, that's what Lobos is all about).

09/12/2009 Nate (Avg: 4.85 Review) - We hit the Scuba lottery! 8/27/09 was a day to remember. FLAT OCEAN, no surge, no wind, sunny all day and when we swam out and could see the bottom clearly from the top, we thought it was high viz. Maybe even 30'+ then we dropped down to the bottom we were looking at and found it was over 50'+. The amount of life is so dense that you can NOT find a square yard that doesn't have every color of the rainbow, all shapes of stars, urchins, anemones, nudibranchs (saw a Spanish dancer!), goathead fish, wolf eels, pyramid snails as big as a baseball, harbor seals, leopard sharks (4' and 3') sleeping on the bottom. We dove at Middle Reef and Beto's reef on two separate dives. Second dive the waves climbed to a drastic 1' at 30 seconds, and the viz reduced to 40'+. This place is sacred! Two days later the viz was down to 8' and a friend said the sea nettles were so thick from -15' to 25' that they called a dive off due to stings on the face (only place not covered in a wet suit). One word of advice, Get outside the cove to see what you came there for.

08/07/2009 Erich (Avg: 2.70 Review) - The comment about this park not allowing snorkeling is false. I snorkeled with a buddy four times here in July and August of 2009. This may be a great scuba site but it is not a great snorkeling site. Within the cove the water was often murky and the sea life was close to non existent. Outside the cove the visibility opens up but the depth keeps things of interest out of sight for snorkelers. This is the only dive sight I visited in California and it did not live up to the hype I heard about when asking for a good snorkel site. Maybe I am just spoiled from all my Caribbean diving.

04/15/2009 Scuba Diver Girl Stephanie (Avg: 4.65 Review) - April 10, 2009 Love this place! The dive was very easy. I had never dove here before. We suited up at Whalers cove and headed out. Very easy to navigate this place. The sea life is amazing: harbor seals, sea anemones, rock fish, kelp fish, eels, etc... And the visibility and kelp are Amazing! Important to remember: the park only allows 30 divers a day, reserve early, bring your cert card, and have a buddy, no solos here. And, think warm! We dove 7mm with lots of layers and got one dive in; it was 52 degrees, but so worth it. Brrrr. Friends we met up there dove dry suits, and got one dive in; an up welling of cold from the trench brought more cold water in from the deep. We only saw 1/8 of what is to be seen. A definitely must to dive again!

12/02/2007 Anonymous (Avg: 4.45 Review) - Lovely. No taking anything here means lots of big fish. Some algae usually seen only farther south (Eisenia arborea). Lots of coralline algae and invertebrates. Fairly well protected in Winter from swell if you don't mind a bit of surge.

01/21/2006 Dan Bermingham (Avg: 4.92 Review) - Point Lobos is arguably one of the nicest dives in California, if not the US. I'd say roughly half of my dives there had a sea lion or harbor seal "buddy," often nipping at your fin or zooming around you. Just keep your eyes open and you'll often spot them at the edge of visibility. Bluefish cove (the next cove over) often has even better visibility and a cool little swim-through near Guillemot Rock. Some spots further out have plenty of hydrocoral and encrusting sponges. Fabulous. Pros: Great vis, great amount of sea life, easy entry on the boat ramp. Only 15 teams of divers allowed. Plenty of hiking trails and photo spots if the surf is too big to dive. Cons: Reservations are required and fill up fast for weekends. Some of the best dive spots are LONG surface swims (or bring an inflatable, kayak, or set of doubles and a scooter). Watch your step on the boat ramp though, as it does get algae growth that makes it slippery.

09/13/2004 Linda Sonne (Avg: 4.11 Review) - A must-do site for the Monterey Bay area. The kelp forests here are beautiful, and we regularly get accompaniment from sea lions or harbor seals. Beautiful and colorful sea anemones and other marine life. Visibility tends to be quite good for Monterey/Carmel - often over 50 feet.

10/17/2003 Avid Diver (Avg: 4.85 Review) - One of the best shore dives in California if not the best and better than many boat dives. Mid week dive spots almost never fill up. "Drop-in" divers first thing in the morning can usually get in without a reservation . Two boats do dives here mid week and take divers to the outer reefs too far to swim to. The outer reefs are some of the best dive sites in the world! Cypress Sea and Beach Hopper II are the boats that go here mid week. They often have to cancel due to too few divers signed up. Perhaps if the word gets out about them more people will sign up and I can go more often!

06/14/2003 Greg Bawdon (Avg: 4.52 Review) - Though it has been some time since I dove here, I remember one day especially. I dove here on a few days that were not ideal. Being young and crazy, we even surface swam around to the next cove! Between crashing breakers 10' high, through clinging surface foam, watching for bus-sized boulders slamming up as the surge dropped us down on them. Different landscape than Whaler's. Rough, interesting, exhausting without an inflatable! But this one day... no surge, no wind. The water still and flat across the cove as if confined in a bowl. I got down to 30', looked back and saw the sunlight slanting through the water, the kelp; like angels descending from heaven. The kelp stood straight up to the surface, motionless, backlit by the sun; a beautiful, wet, glowing forest. I floated weightless in an alien world. That image I will remember forever. Gave me goose bumps. Or was that the 45 degree water leaking through my neck seal? Like any dive site, Whaler's has good, bad days. Dive it more than once! Really good dives here can rip you out of your mundane life, immerse you in a world exotic and beautiful. You will, for a while, forget the rusty old pickup waiting on shore.

03/09/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 4.40 Review) - This is one of the best all-around cold water shore dives I've ever done. I've made four dives there and could spend years poking around the place. The only downside is you have to secure a reservation for diving through the California Parks http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/scuba.

02/15/2003 Mike Dill (Avg: 3.85 Review) - Excellent diving year round. You either need to swim out four hundred yards or more, or have a boat to experience the better locations. The park does not allow snorkeling, and limits the number of divers, so you need to get a reservation at http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/scuba/ where there is also a lot of information. You can see some of the more advanced dive sites at http://www.baue.org/projects/lobos/index.html

11/22/2002 Mike Ward (Avg: 3.77 Review) - I have logged about 100 dives in and around Carmel/Monterey. My dive at Point Lobos was the best of any of those. But some of it was luck. Conditions were EXCELLENT and I'm sure the diving was great all up the coast. To get out to the good diving at Point Lobos requires a bit of a surface swim, but is worth the extra effort. Visibility here often exceeds other local sites. On this day we could clearly see the bottom 75 feet below. Vis estimates were above 100 ft. The kelp and fish-life is amazing. The reef is also spectacular with some HUGE rocks that anchor the kelp. Lots of life. By far the best five I've ever had in Northern California, and that was in spite of a leaky dry suit that left me a bit cold.

06/28/2002 Tom (Avg: 4.13 Review) - I heard and seen pix that this dive is a lot more enjoyable than when I went. The bad thing was that the Vis from the surface to about thirty feet was like pea soup vis. About 2 1/2-3 feet after thirty feet it opened up to about 15 ft. It was very dark. Because of the Kelp we went down to 65 ft. where it was a cold 45F with lots of fish and plant life. This Dive was done on June 22nd. I haven't given up on Point Lobos and I can't wait to have a good dive, and that will probably happen in the Winter. All in All it was a good Dive.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CN2401


Entrance at Whalers Cove (Point Lobos) 

You can't miss it! But don't plan on just showing up anytime during the day. The park is limited to 450 visitors at any one time. If the park is full, you will have to wait at the gait until someone leaves! For dog owners, Fido will be stopped dead in his paw prints at the gate-- no dogs allowed.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CN2402


Parking at Whalers Cove (Point Lobos) 

If you are lucky enough to make it into the park, perhaps you will be lucky enough to find parking by the entry. If not, park above.




Overview at Whalers Cove (Point Lobos) 

The parking lot is in the background. Around the point to the left, you will find your dive spot, Cannery Point.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CN2404


Entry at Whalers Cove (Point Lobos) 

There are several dive spots in the reserve, most of which you will need a boat to access. Cannery Point is the closest, and is an easy swim.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Whalers Cove (Point Lobos)  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.60
Bottom Conditions:  4.33
Reef Conditions:  4.47
Animal Life:  4.33
Plant Life:  4.47
Facilities:  3.93
Solitude 3.73
Roads:  4.40
*Site Average:  4.34

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.73
Beginner Scuba:  4.33
Intermediate Scuba:  4.40
Advanced Scuba:  4.27
Night diving Scuba:  2.93

Number of reviews for this site: 15


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