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Dive Review of Monterey Express in
The Continental USA/Monterey, CA

Monterey Express, Mar, 2007,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 3649.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments While on a work-related trip, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and try diving off Monterey. While the water (always cool here) was at its chilliest of the year (50 degrees), the visibility is normally best then. Indeed, per the many locals on my boat, the conditions while I visited were as good as theyíve ever seen it (calm and relatively good viz Ė meaning 40-50 feet or so). A skin, 7 mm Henderson gold core wetsuit, and a vest on top (along with hood and gloves of course) kept me quite comfortable (though many donned dry suits). While much of the diving there is off the beach, I read that the best sites are off shore just south of Monterey Peninsula off of Carmel. So, thatís where I went via boat. We dove Localís Ledge and Fire Rocks off Pescadero Point Ė both pinnacles.

My dive buddy, a local amateur underwater photographer, and I were content to spend most of the first dive right under the boat in and around a crevice filled with a huge school of blue rockfish, starfish, and some short kelp. We also saw the occasional kelp fish, treefish, and halfmoon common to the area. The pinnacle was covered in very (surprisingly) red and pink hydrocoral and anemonies with a few sunflower stars and decorator crabs roaming around. Apparently, this site is rarely dived as it is normally has a stiff current Ė so the locals were very excited to be diving there at all. According to those on the boat, a migrating gray whale came close by, but we didnít see or hear it (we did see several on the boat ride back to Monterey, however). Most of the dive was around 60 feet in depth. Unfortunately, my tank only showed about 2400 psi at the start, which limited my bottom line. Fire Rocks had similar aquatic life to the first dive. The site is more of a ridge with tall kelp strands and felt more like a coral reef in setup. We explored small areas of mostly sheltered large ďholesí in the rock/ledge.

The boat operator (Monterey Express) was solid and experienced. Unlike most places Iíve been, they are not affiliated with a dive shop, so any rentals, etc. would have had to be through a separate business on shore (not an issue for me fortunately). They allowed divers, who were clearly advanced on my trip, to dive their own profiles. They did not put a guide in the water (which was fine with me, but might be an issue to some). My only complaint was the relative lack of weights (and all in five pound increments!). I suppose with most of the divers local and probably showing up with their own weights, that is usually not an issue. They also, oddly, really pressed me to put a ton of weight on saying Iíd need much more here than other places. I can dive with all the neoprene I listed above with only 12 pounds of weight in the local fresh water quarry and they insisted I put 25 pounds on Ė big mistake. I dropped to about 20 pounds on second dive, but it was still too much. I would have been fine with 15-16 pounds or so.

Overall, the diving was interesting and worth it while I happened to be in the area, but I was disappointed in the lack of larger fish and seals (which I really wanted to see!). Based on my experience, I think Catalina Island off Los Angeles is better for diving on the Pacific Coast as the water is clearer, warmer, and contains more critters (including larger fish like bat rays, huge jewfish-size black sea bass, large sheep crabs, and small sharks). Should I go back, Iíll have to try the shore diving near downtown, which I hear usually has more seals, though less viz. I think I would also like to try to dive the shore near Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Carmel, which looked wonderful from the hiking trails above it. However, I do strongly recommend visiting Monterey, if for no other reason, to experience it and the area on land. It is truly one of the most beautiful areas Iíve seen in the U.S.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Nassau, Bonaire, Great Barrier Reef, wrecks off North Carolina and in St Lawrence River Canada, Key Largo FL, Ko Samui Thailand, Catalina Island CA, Puerto Rico
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 49-50°F / 9-10°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 40-50 Ft/ 12-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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