Dive Site Overview:
Fort Ross – Sonoma Coast
Fort Ross is located 11 miles North of Jenner at milepost 33, and is clearly marked with a roadside sign. The park is 3,200 acres in size, and includes a visitor center, and old Russian millitary fort, museum, bookstore, and an old Russian cemetary. It’s also the location of several great dive sites. There is an $8 use fee to use the park.
On the Southern part of the park, below the old Fort, lies Fort Ross Cove, or Sandy Cove. This cove is where the Russians launched ships that were built here, and it makes an easy entry for divers off a sandy beach. An inflatable or kayak can be launched from the beach for those who want to explore the areas outside the protected cove. Parking in the lower lot, next to the beach, is restricted and can only be used for loading, unloading, and for emergency vehicles. There is plenty of parking at the top of the hill.
The beach itself is sandy, and the gently sloping bottom becomes rocky on the Northern and Southern sides. Because of the sandy bottom in the beach area, visibility suffers somewhat until you get off the beach and into deeper or rockier waters. As typical on most North coast dive sites, the kelp gets thick here in the Summer and Fall months, until the first big storms move in and clean it out in the Winter.
Fort Ross Cove (aka Sandy Cove) is 11 miles North of Jenner at milepost 33. The park is clearly marked and there is plenty of parking available.
This cove is not as protected as some other locations, but it still offers more protection that the open shoreline for days when the wind is blowing. Visibility is better around the rocky areas, away from the beach, and depths range from 10-15 feet off the beach to over 60 feet outside the immediate cove.