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Diving Cape Ann

Matt Everett   Apr 12, 2023

Shore Diving Cape Ann

One of the most common questions we get asked is “Where do you go diving?” Our response is always the same, “Up at Cape Ann!” We dive off Cape Ann (made up of the towns of Gloucester and Rockport) because it features some of the best shore diving in all of New England. Numerous beaches offer easy shore entry and the rocky reefs we dive on typically run in depths of about 10 to 60 feet. One of the best parts of diving on Cape Ann comes from the fact that Cape Ann is an island; water surrounds all sides. This is extremely beneficial to shore diving because even when strong winds are blowing, you can always go to the leeward side of the island (the side facing opposite the wind) and find a protected site to go diving at. Parking can sometimes be tricky but generally the sites we go to have free parking available (if you get there early enough!).

To learn more about assessing wind conditions and knowing what site to head toward before leaving your house, check out our blog on assessing conditions here. Below you will find a list of our most frequented shore diving sites in Cape Ann. 

Old Garden Beach (Rockport):

Old Garden Beach (or OGB) ranks high among the easy sites to dive at locally due to the easy parking, great marine life, and interesting bottom topography. During the week you can park on the side of the road right next to the beach but on weekends and holidays you need to park on a parallel street to the beach (just don’t block any fire hydrants or people’s driveways! Remember to always be considerate and stay off the grass while parking in front of houses). There is a parking lot at the beach, but it is resident only so go look for that street parking! A large grassy area at the top of OGB provides the perfect area for setting up equipment away from the sand. Several picnic tables and benches line the grassy area for beachgoers to use so please remember to keep your equipment out of the way and stay off the benches: please leave those for non-divers. It is ok to use one to assist in putting on equipment but make sure to clear your belongings off when you head to the water to allow families to use the tables and benches. After putting on your equipment, walk down the large ramp to the beach and straight into the water. Average depths are OGB are usually between 20-45 feet (rocky reef starts at about 20) but by swimming directly away from the beach you can reach depths of 50+ feet.

Back Beach (Rockport):

Back Beach is one of our favorite sites for certification classes. The site remains shallow and has a large sandy area in the middle which is perfect for training dives. Metered street parking runs down the road directly across from the beach and additional metered parking can be found down the street near a restroom. After parking, you will unload your gear and walk it down the street to the small grassy area with a stone bench on the left side of the beach. This is the perfect place to set up your equipment; from there you will walk down a stone ramp onto the sandy beach and into the water. The average depths at Back Beach are usually between 10-30 feet.

Folly Cove (Gloucester/Rockport Town Line):

Folly Cove is our favorite dive site locally due to the diversity of both marine life and bottom topography. Folly Cove does not have a sandy beach to speak of; big rocks and small boulders make up the coastline and cause a challenging entrance and exit because of how slippery and prone to slide they are. You should only dive Folly Cove around high tide so as many of the rocks are covered by water as possible. A small dirt lot at the top of the cove gives you space to pull over and unload your gear but parking at the lot is only for residents so you cannot leave your car there while in the water. There are two parking options close by. By heading right when facing the cove, you will come to a lobster restaurant called “The Lobster Pool” on the left side followed by the road curving and turning right. Do not park in the restaurant lot, as it is reserved for their customers. Some street parking is available opposite the restaurant as well as additional parking on the bend of the road in front of a sign labeled “angled parking”. These spots are often full if you come during the afternoon so try to find an early high tide to head here in the summer. The other parking option is to head left when facing the cove and park on a side street. After heading down the road for a bit, you come to a side street on the left side called Woodbury St which has a sign at the corner of the road for “Plum Cove Pottery”. Woodbury St has street parking available which are most often open. By parking at either place, it only takes a short walk to get back to Folly Cove so the best method for diving is to pull into the lot, unload equipment, park your car, walk back, and bring your stuff down to the rocks to set up and dive. Once you are done, break your equipment down, walk to your car, pull back into the lot to load everything and away you go! Average depth is around 20-45 feet, but you can easily hit deeper depths by venturing out further from the cove.

Pebble Beach (Rockport):

Pebble Beach is an awesome dive that stays shallow but still offers great marine life opportunities! The beach runs alongside Penzance Road and has street parking available. Small rocks and pebbles cover the first half of the beach while the second half of the beach becomes sandy. Because residents want to enjoy the sandy area, the parking section at the far end of Penzance Road is resident only but the first portion of the street is free parking. A metal sign about halfway down the beach clearly marks where the resident only zone begins so make sure you park before that sign. Additional parking can be found on nearby side streets but make sure to follow all posted signs and be respectful of people’s property. Make sure to keep your balance as you walk over the rocks to the water, they sometimes slide underneath your feet but most people don’t have issues. Average depth is often around 15-35 feet.

Loblolly Cove (Rockport):

Loblolly Cove is a quiet and not often visited dive site. Located just around the corner from Pebble Beach, this site offers an abundance of lobsters when venturing further from the beach. A small lot next to the beach (resident only) gives you space to pull in and unload gear before looping around to park at Pebble Beach and then making the approximately half mile walk back to the cove. The best way to enter the water is via a small channel on the right side of the cove that guides you toward the middle of the site. From there you can stay in the middle and swim around the rock formations or venture further from the cove and explore toward the right side where it drops off deeper. Average depth is often around 15-35 feet, but you can get deeper by venturing further away from the cove.

Cressy Beach at Stage Fort Park (Gloucester):

Cressy Beach is a very reliable site due to the site’s physical protection from the wind which allows it to be diveable even during strong winds. This site has a very different bottom composition compared to most of the sites in the area because of its location close to Gloucester Harbor and the river. Instead of the common rocky reef style sites in the area, Cressy Beach has a silty and muddy bottom. Rock formations are still present but the presence of so much sediment causes the habitat to look and function differently. When you enter the park, you will drive up a large hill and pass a dog park on the right side before coming to a parking lot (also on the right side). During the summer months you will have to pay for parking in the lot and don’t forget to double check when the parking area is open, so your car doesn’t get locked in while you are in the water. During the offseason, you can park in that lot for free. Another parking option is to head past the parking lot on the main road and go down the hill toward the beach. There is a small restaurant called the Cupboard of Gloucester that has a parking area for their customers only so please use the parking lot on top of the hill unless the restaurant is closed. The average depth is often about 15-30 feet deep.  




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