A new way to explore our ocean, minus the wetsuit!

Imagine knife-edge structures as tall as skyscrapers; giant pinnacles undamaged by the erosion of their land-based counterparts; chasms barely wide enough to swim through; ledges dropping into unfathomable depths; topography that was above water during the last ice age...

Most visitors to Point Lobos are on foot. What many don’t realize is that some of the most beautiful landscapes within the Reserve are found underwater. While the Reserve hosts 550 fully protected land acres, its protected underwater area is over eighteen times that size, at 9,907 acres.

In 1960, the first 750 underwater acres were added to the existing land area within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, creating the first marine reserve in the State of California and the second in the United States. Its fifty-plus years of protected status and limited access have allowed the marine life to flourish, without interference, among stunning natural surroundings such as steep walls, giant kelp forests, and granite reefs.

Until now, the only way to experience the underwater landscape of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve has been to secure one of 30 permits issued each day to proficient divers. Even then, without the guidance of someone extremely familiar with the territory, you’d be unlikely to know where you have been while seeing the extraordinary kelp forests, schools of fish, and friendly seals.

Thanks to the efforts of some dedicated members of the Bay Area Underwater Explorers (BAUE) and support from the community, visitors to Point Lobos will soon be able to visualize the undersea world—without getting wet. A permanent, museum-quality 3D model of the underwater park has been installed at Whalers Cove and was unveiled to the public on May 10, 2014. 

With this model, divers will finally be able to picture the underwater topography so they can navigate their way to points of interest. And non-diving visitors will surely gain a greater appreciation for the mysterious realm below the waters, making them more likely to support efforts to preserve and protect this extraordinary treasure.

Photos by Ted Heublein.

Learn more!

View Interpretive Sign
A Diver's View of the Reserve
Dive Map
Meet the volunteers and donors
Creating the 3D Model
Photos of 3D Model
Photos from divers