The East Gloucester Shore is a beautiful stretch of rocky coast with some of the best diving in Massachusetts. There are only two places to access it, though, and this is one of them. At the intersection of Grapevine and Atlantic Roads, a 100-yard long rocky beach lies between two sections of ledge.
The bottom throughout the area is a wonderful mix of boulders and deep cut ledge. It follows a gentle slope down, reaching depths of 30 to 35 feet and staying there for several hundred yards offshore. This site faces the open ocean, and as far as the sea life goes, anything and everything has the potential to swim by. Nesting lumpfish seem particularly common in the spring. This is a very nice dive.
The walk from the road to the water ranges from 30 yards to well over 100, depending on where you park. Entry and exit range from tricky to treacherous, depending on the state of the tide and the wave action. There is no sand here. The bottom is composed entirely of medium-sized to large rocks lying on top of one another, without a patch of level footing to be had. Even minor wave action can stir up sediment and seaweed, making it impossible to see where or on what you're stepping. Entry and exit can be marginally less difficult at high tide.
This site is exposed to the East and should only be attempted by experienced shore divers unless the wind is under 10 mph and out of the West.
This site can become rough when the wind blows out of an easterly direction. The site is prone to powerful swells even when the wind isn't out of an easterly direction. The surge can be challenging and entry and exit are complicated by the variable rocky terrain so, like other rocky New England sites, slipping and falling or twisting an ankle can be a serious concern. Be careful and deliberate with each step while navigating your entry and exit.
Underwater navigation can be a challenge at this site due to the variable depth of the ledges. If you are new to the site make sure to keep an eye on your compass and stick to a simple heading to avoid surfacing around the exposed rocky areas to the North and South of the beach.
The site is across from the intersection of Grapevine Road and Atlantic Road in Gloucester. Depending on the day and time of the year, it may be possible to park on the side of Atlantic (from May 1st to September 15th, parking is not allowed on Atlantic on Saturdays during any PM hours or Sundays and Holidays at any time).
Jerry Shine provided much of the written dive site content on the shore diving sites around New England from his 2005 publication: A Shore Diving Guide to New England which is currently out-of-print. His 2017 publication A Year Underwater: Twelve Months of Diving, Fraternizing with Marine Life, and Just Having a Great Time, from the St. Lawrence River to West Palm Beach is available for purchase on Amazon.
If lobstering be sure that you are licensed, have a gauge for the area you are lobstering in, have your numbers on your cylinder and flag, and don’t land any shorts, longs, notches, or eggers. For more information please reference the mass.gov regulations site here.