Dive SiteMetridiums Fields, San Carlos Beach, Monterey, California.
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The Metridium Fields site is a beautiful dive site located at San Carlos beach in Monterey. San Carlos beach, also known as The Break Water by many local divers, is a very popular site. If you dive closer to the breakwater wall, you will be diving amongst the hordes of open water dive classes. However, further away from the wall, and a long swim from the shore, is the spectacular Metridium Fields.
Reaching the Metridium Fields requires a rather long swim. If you do it underwater this will limit your time at the dive site. If you do it on the surface you will be getting close to boat traffic. On this dive we had Diver Propultion Vehicles (DPVs), so we were able to do the descend quite close to the beach yet still have plenty of bottom time once we reach the metridiums.
Actually I was taking the PADI DPV specialty.
You enter the water from the left side of San Carlos beach. There are stairs down to the beach near the restroom at the left side of the parking lot. Before you go down to the beach, familiarize yourself with the location of the pump house just behind the restrooms, as that will be an important visual landmark for the start of the dive.
Be careful where you enter the water. At this side of the beach there are a number of submerged rocks, and also exposed rebar (metal) from the foundations of the old cannery buildings. The beach here is quite well protected, so waves are usually not too large. However, as I say the rocks and foundations can be a hazard and you don't want to fall here should a rogue wave come along.
Dive Plan, showing entry/exit, ascent/descent, and directions
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After entering the water swim away from the beach and, if looking towards the beach, out to your right (northerly). The drop off here is slow, so you need to swim out a way before it's deep enough to descend. You need to head more northernly, as you need to line yourself up with the pump house on the shore. You can also see the road, Reeside Ave, going up the hill behind the pump house.
View from the ocean, GPS coordinates show where we surfaced
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Swim out away from the beach perpendicular to the pump house. As I said earlier, the further out you swim, the less swimming you need to do underwater to reach the Metridiums.
Take a bearing back to the beach before you drop down. Prefer a bearing towards the center of San Carlos beach rather than direct to the pump house, as you don't want to come ashore too far north here on your return - it's very rocky with no good beach north of the pump house.
Descend and head North. You should shortly hit the pipe. There are lots of small pipes around Monterey dive sites, don't be mistaken, at this dive site you are looking for a much larger pipe, about 2, or more, feet in diameter.
When you reach the pipe, follow the pipe out into deeper water (30degree heading). At the end of the pipe (the pipe ends abruptly) head North again. You will very soon hit the Metridium fields.
Once we reached the site we explored on a NE-SE direction. After completing the dive, we turned on a 180degree heading for a short while, to put us on a good path towards San Carlos beach, then turned to 240degrees. This put us on an intercept path with the pipe, which runs at 210 degrees towards shore.
Take time to look around the pipe, there is plenty of marine life living here. Nuibranches, crabs, rock-fish, sea-stars, and the occasional seal. Depending on the season, seanettles and moon jellies.
We ascended along the pipe. When we got to 15 feet we stopped for a safely stop on the bottom, alongside a nice Lingcod (which was resting on the pipe).
Dive Computer depth profile
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PADI DPV SpecialtyAs I said, I was participating in the PADI DPV Specialty Class. I can recommend the class, it's a great way to get some hands-on time with one of these fun toys without the outlay of cash. You will also learn about the various different kinds of DPV available, and our instructor took us through the various maintainance, assembly and disassembly procedures.
This dive site is an above average distance from shore, and reaching it is made much easier with a DPV.