The area is a maze of offshore rocks with tunnels, caves, and huge arches. Visitor Center—The Van Damme Visitor center, which was built as a recreation hall by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, features a life like model of an underwater surge channel, complete with all of the creatures and plants that live in the tidal environment. Nr. Van Damme State Park, Mendocino: Address, Phone Number, Van Damme State Park Reviews: 4.5/5 Swap Start/End Start Address. On calm days the best diving at Van Damme is on the outside of Key Hole and Top Hat Rocks. Divers with boats or kayaks should take the time to explore the small coves to the south of the main cove. Poor to fair spearfishing off of the rocks and outside the cove to the north.Hazards: Watch for thick kelp and boat traffic. Upon exiting the tunnel, swim 100 yards to the right to the next small cove. Looking for pretty spots with lots of life to see and photograph. Cautions: The cove is protected from wind and swell, however the outer areas receive little protection and can be rough. Explore the most popular trails in Van Damme State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. Van Damme State Park. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Little River Cove is quite picturesque with a wide gravel beach that is framed by huge redwood trees. Nearly all of the dive sites in Mendocino County were once lumber ports that provided the timber to build the growing City of San Francisco. Small boats and kayaks may be easily launched from the beach. Hold your breath and pretend you are diving under the waves! Call (800) 444-PARK for reservations.Depth: 15-80 feetSkill: Novice to advancedPhotography: Good macro throughout the area, good wide-angle outside the cove when the visibility is good.Hunting: Good abalone diving north and south of the cove and around the offshore wash rocks. There is good spearfishing for lingcod and rockfish. Willing to drive a bit. Conditions are normally calm inside the cove; but outside conditions are highly variable, and can change rapidly. “He was yelling for help,” Barney said. This is a pretty area with deep channels and caves to explore, with a thick growth of red coralline algae covering the shallow rocks. Look, but don’t touch these tasty invertebrates since they may not be taken in California’s waters. Map Move Map. This is an eerie experience with the constant, but mild, surge picking you up and down, along with the sound of the surf echoing back and forth. Nearly all of the dive sites in Mendocino County were once lumber ports that provided the timber to build the growing City of San Francisco. Outside the wash rocks are a series of depressions in 20 feet of water that are definitely worth diving on calm days. The Little River Beach is among the calmest and most comfortable dive sites on the North Coast. There is a state-run campground across the road. But, that’s another story. COPYRIGHT © 2019 CALIFORNIA DIVING NEWS. The park has 74 campsites with all the amenities, and a riverside foot trail. The numerous rocks creates an inland passage all the way south to Buckhorn Cove. Van Damme State Park consists of about 1,831 acres (7.41 km 2) of land in Mendocino County, California, near the town of Little River on State Route 1.It was named for Charles Van Damme (1881–1934), who was born in the area and purchased the land that is now the park with profits from a San Francisco ferry business. The bottom drops off rapidly to 60 feet and the rock walls are covered with fluffy white metridium anemones and red fish-eating anemones. Directions: The entrance to Van Damme is 3 miles South of Mendocino on Highway 1. The southern part of the cove has areas of rock separated by patches of sand. The mill remained in business for over 20 years, right alongside a shipyard that built 19 schooners. Hunting: The cove is within the Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area, which only limits the commercial take of kelp. This is the spot to spear lingcod and rockfish. Right outside the rocks are a series of depressions that are filled with giant green anemones. Divers will find a number of large lingcod, as well as several species of rockfish. However, it may be difficult to believe that in the past our dive sites were once centers of intense commercial activity. Reef Buddies 0.0 (0) 0 0 0 0 0 Compare . Many Tourists can spot abalone divers diving in the coastal areas of the park. Diving: 7 years: Facilities: 4.00: Dives: 300: Solitude: 4.00 : Roads: 4.00: Evaluation *Average: 3.63: Easy entry. There is a shallow reef not far from shore. It is a long swim to these rocks, and all but the most athletic divers will prefer to ride a boat or kayak there. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This cove was first developed as a port to ship fresh elk meat to San Francisco, and later as a cattle ranch and potato … Swim along the north face of the cove and find the entrance to the Cave of the Trolls. The dive site at Van Damme is directly across the street from the State Park entrance. Write Review. Driving Directions to Van Damme SP. Extremely long swim out and to the right for anything interesting. During the 1850s a mill worker’s son named Charles Van Damme went off looking for fame and fortune, and found it as the owner of the Richmond-San Rafael ferry line. Yet, divers will find a wealth of colorful invertebrates, large and small fish just offshore. 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