Rules and Guidelines for diving at Wharf 2, Monterey

  • Monterey Municipal Wharf #2

By Alan Throop

At the February 1 general meeting, questions arose about diving at Wharf 2. There have been rumors that diving was no longer allowed at that site. I called and spoke with Brian Nelson, who is the Dive Safety Officer at the Monterey Harbormaster office, an active diver, and also one of the two diver representatives on the Advisory Council of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Wharf 2 (or “Wharf II”) is a popular dive site in Monterey – and particularly so for UnderWater Photographers, due to the large number of invertebrates and great macro-photography opportunities here. Bruce Watkins, who writes about our local dive sites in California Diving News (and is speaking to us in March), has a good article on this dive site.

While it is a protected site and shallow ( less than 30’), it is often considered an advanced dive due to poor visibility (5’10’), entanglement hazards (active fishing lines from topside and lost fishing lines at the bottom), junk and snags, boat traffic, etc. This is also a good site to practice your navigation skills or as a second-dive after diving the boat and half-track off Del Monte Beach.

The dive typically consists of diving from the sandy beach next to the concrete pier/wall that juts out into the water, usually surface-swimming well away from the wall to avoid people that are fishing from the pier. One then cuts left/west to the end of the concrete wall where the wooden pilings begin. The wall there is covered with marine life and offers great macro opportunities. One can then turn north and dive along the OUTSIDE pilings, called “fender pilings” since there are better protected against boats or objects that may tie-up next to them. One can dive navigating north from piling to piling, out to the “bend” in the pier, where fishing and other boats tie-up to the commercial pier. Alternatively, you can swerve out away from pilings (east) to where there are grassy beds with nudibranchs, fringeheads, and other life in the grass and debris that you find there, then swerve back toward the pilings, covering the larger area west of the pilings. As noted below, divers are NOT allowed to dive under the wooden pilings that comprise the wharf.

Google Earth Wharf 2Basically, Brian said there has been no change from what the policy has been for many years. It has always been the case the divers are not allowed UNDER the wharf and some divers may have recently misinterpreted this to mean that diving is generally not allowed there. This is not the case.

I’ve listed below some notes and guidelines below from the conversation. I hope that this will clarify the concern, since Wharf 2 can be a very interesting dive.

  • Diving in buddy teams IS allowed the along the concrete wall and outside of the fender pilings.
  • Diving groups are allowed; it is recommended that a topside-spotter be with a dive team to warn fishermen of divers and call the Harbormaster if there are any problems during the dive.
  • Diving is NOT allowed (mandatory) under the pier, east of the fender pilings. This is city-property and you are not allowed to dive either under or east of the wooden pilings.
  • The Harbormaster Office recommends that you call them at 831-646-3725 or -3950 before you suit-up, to notify them that you will be diving. Give them an estimated time that you expect to be there.
  • It is recommended that dives NOT dive beyond the “dogleg” bend in the pier since boat traffic and overhead activities make that area more of a hazard.
  • Notify the Harbormaster Office when you complete your dive.

Brian was a real find! We are in discussion with Brian and friends to come to the club to speak about the Monterey Harbor Operations, Dive Boats and dive sites in the area, and/or aspects of interest to diving within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Let the entertainment chair know if you would like to hear some or all of these!