Stillwater Cove State Park is 210 acres in size, and located about a mile South of Ocean Cove, and 16 miles North of Jenner. The park offers a 20-site campground, parking, easy access to the water, and beach-launching of kayaks and other small portable boats. The cove opens towards the Southwest so it's protected somewhat from Pacific swells, however conditions can be rough in this area depending on prevailing winds and the direction of the swell.
The beach is mix of rocks, sand, and coarse gravel and the entry to the water is relatively easy. Note that there are several abrupt dropoffs in the surf zone, so it's best to enter the water with all your gear in place, and exit the water completely before removing your gear. There is an informational bulletin board near the beach with more specific information and hazards of diving this area.
The cove itself can have a thick bed of kelp, especially in the late Summer months. There is sometimes an open lane through the kelp in the center of the bed that allows the diver access to outer areas, but follow all precautions regarding streamlining your gear to avoid entanglements, as there have been several accidents at this locations due to entanglement. Enough said...
For those searching for Abalone, the immediate cove itself is usually limited in size and numbers, but for those who venture outside, there are plenty to be found. If you head out and to the North, you'll find quick dropoffs and a very rocky terrain with many abs. If conditions are good, this is a good area, and if you can get down beyond 20 feet, you'll probably have no problem getting your limit. That being said, this spot does get very rough, with turbulent water and an unforgiving shoreline that you'll want to stay away from when there is anything but calm conditions.
A bit longer swim (or a short kayak ride) takes you to another nice area - just outside and slightly to the South. Once out of the immediate cove, there is an underwater reef heading West - out to sea - that is covered with large boulders, abalone, ling cod, and lots of other sealife. Even though this is a popular diving area, there are still plenty of abalone and game to be found.
For non-divers, there is a picnic and BBQ area, tidepools and rocks to climb, and a sand/gravel beach for throwing a frisbee or a picnic lunch. 2 parking spaces for loading and unloading are available a short distance from the beach. There are drinking fountains, outhouses and changing rooms available on the trail near the beach.
Take Highway 1 North from Bodega Bay. Drive North 11 miles North to Jenner, then another 16 miles to Stillwater Cove. You'll see the Stillwater Cove campground sign on the freeway, and just past here the road makes a sharp curve to the right. Parking is available alongside the road above the cove, and parking for loading/unloading is available at the bottom of the hill at the trailhead.
Stillwater Cove is one of the North Coast's more protected and most easily accessible dive sites, however conditions vary widely depending on the weather, wind, surge, and often change by the hour. Be sure to check the ocean conditions before driving up, and carefully evaluate the water before deciding to make a dive. On an exceptional day, the water can have lake-like conditions, and visibility can reach 30 feet or more.
Services & Resources:
Local dive shop: Bodega Bay Pro Dive
Stillwater Cove Campground
Salt Point Ocean Conditions
Bodega Bay Live Cam
Google Satelite View of this area