Magnolia Rocks

Skill Level:
Best Time:
High tide when the wind is very low and out of the N/NW
Notable Features:
Challenging entry, great topography, lots of fish!
36 Shore Rd
Gloucester, MA 01930


Magnolia Rocks is a long stretch of ledge sloping gradually into the water. Because of its topography, it’s very prone to swells — swells that can build quickly. This is one of the most dangerous sites, in terms of entry and exit, included on this site. It should only be dived on calm days by experienced divers who understand that conditions here can change within the timeframe of a typical dive. The reason it’s included is that divers do have options if conditions become rough. They’re not good options but they’re options nonetheless.

The Dive

Underwater, the ledge follows a gentle slope down, eventually giving way to a sand bottom beautifully covered with medium-sized to large boulders. These boulders extend several hundred yards out offshore, and seemingly as far as you can swim in either direction along the coast. There’s a lot of sea life swimming around the boulders and hiding in the countless cracks and crevices. Depths drop to approximately 35-40 feet. This is a beautiful dive.

The walk from the road to the rocks is short and easy. Once on the rocks; entry and exit are made over a sloping ledge that's slippery at low tide. If wells build during your dive, your best option is to exit at the far left (east) end of the rocks where the slope of the ledge is less steep. The exit here is easier but still dangerous. The key is to be patient but decisive. Wait just outside the surf zone for the weakest set of swells. This may mean staying in the water for several minutes in very rough conditions. But as soon as you've gauged the rhythm and size of the swells, move in and get out of the water as soon as you see the opportunity.



The site can become rough when the wind is out of any southerly direction. The site is prone to swells when even when the wind isn't out of a southerly direction. Swells can build up here within the timeframe of a typical dive.

Be aware of fishermen casting from the rocks.

Street parking is available on the southern end of Lexington Street. During the summer, parking is limited to the area around the intersection of Lexington and Cliff Ave and north from there. It's a short walk down to Shore Road from there. When you reach shore road, head right (west) and look for the pile of stones and concrete/pipe ramp that leads down to the rocks. Avoid the entrance directly in front of the intersection as there have been uncomfortable interactions with the adjacent property owner about access rights.




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 regulations site here.