Shaw’s Cove

Skill level/ necessary training: Open Water diver

How to get there: Use Google Maps and search for Shaw’s Cove. If you aren’t using Google maps, find your way to Pacific Coast Hiway, CA-1. From Pacific Coast Hiway, turn Southwest (towards the ocean) on Fairview St. You will quickly come to a T-intersection with Cliff Dr. Park along Fairview and Cliff Dr.

Parking: Depending on where you can find parking. Parking on the street is free in this neighborhood on Cliff Dr. but there are meters at the top of the hill on Fairview (they take credit card and change).

Facilities: There are no showers or toilets at this location.  Closest public facilities would be at Crescent Bay.

Surf is a great website and app to check surf conditions. The location is Laguna Beach (Brooks St.)

Entry: From Cliff Dr, head down the stairs by the sign that says “Shaw’s Cove”. After getting to the beach, head to the right side of the beach to enter closer to the reef area. The primary dive location for Shaw’s Cove is the reef wall and swim throughs off the right side of the beach. There is also reef structure on the left side of the beach. Be sure to take a good look at what the Cove looks like before you descend.

Dive site: After getting past the surf zone, it is encouraged to descend in the shallows at this dive site. You can see Round Stingrays, Angel shark, California Butterfly Rays, flatfish, and other marine life in as little as 8′ of water Continue south with the reef wall as your guide. The wall will continue to depths around 40′. When you reach about 20-25′, there will be a break in the wall. This is the opening to the crevice. It is a swim through with mostly no overhead. However, there are a few brief sections that do have overhead. When the surf and surge are up, this is not a good area to dive. When you find calm conditions with minimal to no surf and surge, this can be an amazing section of the dive site to explore and find an abundance of nudibranch, fish, California spiny lobster, California Moray Eels, and much more. If you venture into the crevice, be sure to pay attention to your turns. Some lead to dead ends and some will lead you to another exit around 40′ back to the Shaw’s Cove side. If you find yourself getting very shallow, you may surface in Crescent Bay’s Cove instead. You can surface and head up the ramp from the beach to the street. It will take you to Cliff Dr. Take a right on the road and it will take you down to the Shaw’s Cove sign.

If you continue the wall instead of going into the crevice, turn left 90 degrees from the wall at 35′ depth and swim about 25′. You will find a statue of a mermaid. This is known as Shelly of Shaw’s. The statue is mostly overgrown, but tends to be home to a handful of nudibranchs as well as the occasional octopus hiding under the statue.

The center of the bay is a sandy bottom. This area provides home to sand crabs, flat fish such as speckled sanddabs, California Halibut, and ornate tube worms. This is a great dive site to practice navigation and search patterns.

What you’ll see: Garibaldi, Halfmoon, Seniorita, Sargo, Green Abalone, Salema, Black perch, the occasional Harbor seal, California spiny lobster, Smooth turban snail (frequently on larger kelp leaves), Horned shark, Angel shark, Shovelnose guitarfish, California Halibut, Speckled Sandab, Kelp bass, White sea bass, blacksmith, Giant kelpfish, Opaleye, Zebraperch, Rock wrasse, California Sheephead, California Golden gorgonian, Southern Staghorn Bryozoan, Wavy turban snail, Giant green anemone, starburst anemone, Painted Greenling, California Scorpionfish, Stone Scorpionfish, Rockpool Blenny, Black eyed Goby, Spanish Shawl, Yellow Umbrella Slug, California Blue Dorid, Porter’s Chromodoris, Striped SeaHare, California Seahare, Hopkin’s Rose, Starburst Anemone, Grey moon sponge, Sulfur sponge

Emergency contacts:

Emergency Assistance: 911

Divers Alert network: 919-684-9111

Fire: 911 , Laguna Beach non-emergency line: 949-497-0700

Police:911 , Laguna Beach non-emergency line: 949-497-0701

Emergency Hyperbaric Chambers:
Long Beach Memorial Hospital: 562-933-2000
UCLA Medical Center: 310-794-1031
Catalina hyperbaric Chamber- Emergency line: 310-510-1053

Divers Alert Network, non emergency medical questions: 919-684-9111