Painted Cliffs is, like Cobre to the South, totally open to prevailing weather for much of the year. When Summer rolls around, make a point of stopping by. The anchoring is more protected than the printed guides will lead you to believe, and the snorkeling around the HUGE monoliths that make up the jumbled point can be beyond spectacular.
Open from north or south, with deep water right near shore. Just make sure to clear the rocky point.
Good protection from South and West, if the breeze has some more east in it, you will be tempted to tuck just around the point and work toward shore. The books shun this idea, but our experience, and view from the drone, confirms that large sandy areas with a few rocky spots are available. Most boats, however, will spread out along the obvious sandy bottom between the point and the conical gray cliff face, dropping in 20-25 feet over sand.
The crazy geology here has resulted in veins and seams of various rock and minerals in a wide variety of colors – hence the name. We think they’re best appreciated from the boat, and we’re quite certain the staff at the private hunting preserve would agree.
Snorkeling around the point, among the truly giant rocks and ledges that give you the feeling of swimming through a sunken Yosemite Park, or a huge cathedral. Fish populations when we were last here (Summer 2020) were actually more impressive just inside the point itself, but if the visibility is excellent, take advantage and go further around. You won’t be disappointed.