Central Coast Dive Sites
It's just a start, but here are some links to local dive sites! Of course, you'll want to double check the local weather and use your own judgment before making these dives. SLO Ocean Currents is not liable for any misrepresentations of the sites or descriptions and assumes no liabilities. We are just providing links. If you're not sure about local diving conditions or regulations (did you know you're required to have a flag inside Morro Bay?), make sure to look up information or just hire one of our skilled Divemasters to take you diving and eliminate the stress!
- Jade Cove (by Shorediving.com)
- Leffingwell Landing (by Bill White & Mike Kelley)
- Morro Rock North (shorediving.com)
- Target Rock, Morro Bay (by Tim Lisk and Anthony Reynolds)
- Coleman Beach, Morro Bay (by Tim Lisk and Anthony Reynolds)
- Spooner's Cove (by shoredividng.com)
- Hartford Pier, aka Port San Luis Obispo (by Tim Lisk and Anthony Reynolds)
- Thousand Steps, aka Shell Beach: MAP ~ INFO (by Bixler McClure & Nils Brummond)
- Tajiguas (by Simon Volanski & Michael Clarke)
- Refugio Beach (by shorediving.com)
- Channel Islands
- Catalina Island: Casino Point Dive Park (MAP)
Target Rock (Morro Bay)
Target Rock is a great dive site located inside Morro Bay. Over depths from 5'-30' you will find kelp and large rock boulders, and consequently numerous nooks and crannies hiding fish, crabs, octopus, and more. Common sights include nudibranchs, rockfish, perch, sea hares, rays, and plenty of anemones. At night expect to see loads of crabs and the occasional octopus crawling around. Make sure you have a dive flag, as they are required within the bay. Visibility ranges anywhere from 3-5 feet on a bad day to 20+ when it's good. Expect about 5-10 average (on the high tide). Although you have to do a little crawling over the rocks for your entry/exit, there is no surf to deal with so it's relatively easy and makes for a great backup site when swells shut down our unprotected sites.
Directions: Take Highway 1 to Morro Bay. Head out towards the big rock (Morro Rock). At the base of the rock, park in the dirt on the bay side (not the ocean side -- that's a different dive site). Look for a boulder hanging into the bay (Target Rock). It should be approximately where the channel marker buoys start. Your dive site is in this area in the kelp. There's not much to see in the channel itself (except boat hazards) so stay closer to shore.
Potential Hazards: Entanglement (kelp and fishing line), boat traffic (stay out of the main channel and use a flag), dredging (they dredge the channel every year or so -- it should be fairly obvious!) and of course, the tides! Try to time this dive to be in the water during the high slack tide. The current can get very intense between tides, so make sure you take that in to consideration. For a different approach to this site, you can enter the water further up the road on an incoming high tide and do a drift dive into the site.
Coleman Beach (Morro Bay)
A very easy site to dive, Coleman Beach is frequently used for certification classes and is a very good diving site. With a gently sloping sandy bottom and a beach entry without any surf, it's certainly a low stress dive. This comes with a price, however, since there's usually not a lot to see for the untrained eye. Beyond about 10 feet, once the eel grass turns into a sandy/silty bottom, you may find the occasional ray or halibut. But the small stuff is why you come here. Nudibranches of up to 15 different varieties can be found as well as Navanax, snails, pipefish and small crustaceans. Your max depth in the sand shouldn't be more than 24 feet. If you get that deep you're out in the channel (read: boat traffic), so I wouldn't recommend it. Most of the critters will be near the eel grass, and within 30 yards of the shore, so this is a very shallow dive (20 feet or less) unless you're just getting out in the water to swim around and play! Keep an eye out for fish and crabs in the grass. The currents from the tides tend to swirl around in this corner of the bay, so make sure you're up on your compass navigation before diving it. Otherwise you might be swimming the wrong direction!
Directions: Take Highway 1 to Morro Bay. Head out towards the big rock (Morro Rock). When the road finally turns away from shore out towards the rock (you'll be in front of a power plant), you're at the site. Park in the dirt and walk across the road for an easy beach entry. You'll notice Coleman Park just a little ways up the road. You may also see kayakers entering/exiting the water because it's such an easy location.
Potential Hazards: Entanglement (kelp and fishing line), boat traffic (stay out of the main channel and use a flag), dredging (they dredge the channel every year or so -- it should be fairly obvious!) and of course, the tides! Try to time this dive to be in the water during the high slack tide. The current can get very intense between tides, so make sure you take that in to consideration.
Hartford Pier (Port San Luis Obispo)
Another good training dive, we take many of our students here for part of their certification. The benefits are a flat, protected, sandy bottom that's not too deep (max depth is usually 25 feet unless you do a lot of swimming), and relatively easy access. Visibility ranges anywhere from 0'-15', and averages about 3'. It's always a good idea to walk out along the pier before your dive to check how far down the pilings you can see. Expect to see plenty of small crabs and snails, some starfish (especially on the pilings), as well as perch, halibut, and nudibranchs. Keep your eyes open for the occasional small school of fish and also pipe fish. There are two entry points for this dive. You can either climb down the rocks from the parking lot, or you can do a giant stride entry from the pier. Don't worry, you don't have to jump from the top of the pier -- there are steps that lead down to a small platform beneath the pier. Look for the platform with the white fence around it. The ladder has been replaced, so you can do your exit at the pier as well.
Directions: Take Highway 101 to the Avila Beach Drive exit, and head towards Avila Beach. Stay on that road until you reach Hartford Pier. Instead of driving out on the pier (there's a restaurant at the end), park in the lot to your right.
Potential Hazards: Entanglement (fishing line) boat traffic (a flag is recommended), and potentially the surge on rough days (just stay away from the pilings and be very careful on your entry/exit).