Point Loma

Point Loma dive sites are pretty much exclusively boat access sites. Local commercial dive boats frequently dive the Kelp Beds or Ancient Sea Cliffs off Point Loma. If you can help flesh out these descriptions or have other Point Loma sites to suggest, please get in touch. Thank you!

Kelp Beds

The kelp beds off Point Loma vary from year to year in their extent, but generally run from not far south of the Mission Bay Channel down to just past Point Loma. Nearly anywhere you choose to drop anchor in the kelp should be a good dive, though this is perhaps more true in the southern half of the kelp bed.

New Hope Rock

GPS Coordinates: N32 41.139, W117 15.950' (this is a bit SW of the two shallow spots on the NOAA chart, but is in an area which seems to have more good outcroppings to explore).

GPS Coordinates on a long, deep channel between two large outcroppings: N32 41.15, W117 16.04 (this is the average of three readings off different WAAS-enabled GPS units... it's somewhere in this general area). The channel is probably 75' long and 15' deep, with the inside outcropping about that long and the outside outcropping twice as long.

Average depth: 20 feet at the top of New Hope Rock, 45 feet or so at the bottom

This is a very beautiful spot with large rock formations. Some of the boulders are over 15' tall. You can navigate from one large rock to another or just explorer the growth on an individual rock. One of the rocks (it might be the actual New Hope Rock) resembles the bow of a ship. The site used to be home to many abalone, but they are few and far between these days. There are a lot of lobsters, but the majority are small. Scallops can still be found and the fish life is very good. The rocks are in the kelp forest and the plant life is very good. We usually explore the bottom portions of the large boulders first, looking at sponges, anemones, octopus, lobsters and other little critters foud in cracks and crevices. We spend the last part of the dive going over the top of the rocks. (Contributed by Steve S. and John L.)

Click here for Bob Willey's article "Diving New Hope Rock" (PDF file)

Ancient Sea Cliffs

The Ancient Sea Cliffs refers to the sheer cliffs—in places with 30 feet or more of vertical—generally outside the kelp coverage which were once the cliffs at water's edge (a very long time ago). Examples of the Sea Cliffs are pretty much straight out from the Lighthouse at Point Loma, a mile or more offshore, where your fathometer can jump from 60 to 100 feet as you motor over slowly.

On bathymetry maps, the contour lines look very close about 1/2 mile north of the Train Wheels site—suggesting good walls!

[Need help here from people who know Point Loma well... where are other good vertical sections of the Ancient Sea Cliffs?]

Train Wheels

A set of two full-size railroad train wheels, connected by an axle, sits maybe 30 feet back on the right-hand side in a cavern in the Sea Cliffs out from the Point Loma Lighthouse. The bottom of the cavern is at about 100 feet deep, and the top plateau—to which the cavern connects by an increasingly-smaller-as-you-go-back opening—sits about about 65 feet. At the back of the cavern, where it narrows, there is a chimney up to the plateau through which people can fit, single-file.

This cavern is apparently called "the crack".

WARNING: While this cavern is quite large at the opening in the cliff face, it narrows at the top (in a triangle shape—wide at the bottom and almost coming to a point at the top). Near the cliff face, a human being could escape through the cavern top to the plateau and the surface. Further back, it is too narrow and a person could not escape without coming back towards the cavern opening in the cliff face. Please be careful and dive within the limits of your training.

The cliff walls in the area are awesome. If gets a lot of water flow, so the growth is tremendous. In places, the cliff walls are 30 or more feet, in other places it's more like a series of large boulders on a slope from 60 to 100+ feet.

WARNING: Currents here—longshore and tidal flow in/out of San Diego Bay—can be strong. Pay attention! If you can, dive near a high or low tide.

Here are some landmarks: Maybe 30 feet north of the crack (where the train wheels are) on the 65 fsw plateau is a 15-20' wide deep channel, further north is a narrower channel, then the wall peters out. Maybe 30 feet south of the crack, up on the plateau, you'll find two narrow channels (shallow east and 15' or so deep west) about 10' apart. Another couple hundred feet south, you'll find a huge 30–40' high cavern in the cliff face. This is very similar to "the crack" (where the train wheels are), in that the opening runs from the base of the cliff up to the plateau, runs east into the cliff quite a distance, and narrows both towards the top (plateau) and towards the back. If you find a huge cavern which does not have the train wheels 30' in on the right, then go a couple hundred feet north along the sea cliffs. Continuing south, the wall turns in to a slope with large boulders.

Everywhere along here is gorgeous.

Coorindates are 32 39.122 N and 117 15.747 W.

John at the Train Wheels (Paul Foretic image)
Diver next to the train wheels

Three Fingers Reef

Published coordinates are 32 42.564, 117 16.633, which appear to be at the northern end of a shallower area at the outer edge of the kelp forest in northern Point Loma. Motoring slowly from south to north through this area, the depth finder varies a lot between 50 and 90 feet, with most in the 55–70 foot range. The kelp canopy is thick here. The bottom is a large boulder field with occasional house-sized boulders. The average size boulders do not have much growth on them, but the big (10–20' relief) boulders are covered in growth. Lots of invertebrate life, including sun stars. Smaller fish—a lot of sheephead, blacksmith, and small bass. Tremendous macrocystis kelp coverage, plus a lot of elk kelp.

Goal Posts

Published coordinates are 32 41.667, 117 16.121. If you've dived here, please send info!